Let’s start where you started. Why start with a pill organizer?
Noka Supply actually began with solving a problem. I had no idea I would eventually start a company. As part of my senior thesis in Stanford’s Product Design program, I set out to develop a product that would solve a real world problem, so I asked everyone I knew what things they used or did everyday that needed to be improved, what caused a pet peeve, etc. Many people responded that they hated their pill organizers. And what stood out to me about these responses among the other product ideas was the emotion tied to it. There was such a level of frustration and anger that I instantly knew there was a need here.
It’s impossible to talk about the Nokabox without noticing that it doesn’t look anything like a typical pill organizer. How did you settle on the design?
After I interviewed people and realized there was a need for a better pill organizer, I stumbled into the larger problem of medication adherence- whether or not patients take medication the way it’s prescribed. That research showed that a large population of people, especially young people, aren’t taking their pills with them for the day because it’s embarrassing. So many pill organizers look like something that belongs in a doctor’s office. Whether you’re dealing with a chronic illness or an acute condition, other people’s comments affect how you think about your illness and your health and influences whether you take your pills. No one wants to pull out their medications in the middle of the day and have to answer prying questions or field sarcastic comments. The Nokabox is intentionally stylish because I saw that if we could make pill organizers a stylish accessory it would make it more likely that people would stick to their health routines.
And that’s when Noka Supply was born?
Not right away. After developing the first prototype of the product for school, I started a career in consulting that involved a ton of travel. I was spending a lot of time on the road and I kept coming back to the importance of managing health and having the right tools to make that a seamless part of life. I knew there was still a need for an upgraded pill organizer and I could see so much potential to expand into other products. Every time I walked down the aisle of a pharmacy I could see the potential for a redesign that would make current health accessories something you’d actually want to take with you. I decided to launch Noka Supply and do this for real.
You just launched the second edition of the Nokabox and it seems like that’s just the beginning. Where is Noka Supply heading from here?
I don’t have a concise answer for you because I have so many product ideas in mind! We’re going to continue responding to customer needs. I take all of the feedback we get seriously and love getting requests for new products. I see Noka Supply expanding our line of health and travel accessories to go beyond just medication, as well as continuing to produce industry-leading pill organizers. We’re not stopping with just two editions!
When bringing people onto the Noka Supply team you always emphasize that you want people to be working on things that drive them. What about your role gets you out of bed in the morning?
I love solving puzzles. Building a company is a massive never-ending puzzle! How do I solve this new hiccup? What should the product look like? How do you get it shipped internationally? All pieces of one very large, and sometimes very stressful puzzle. But in order to grow, I need to figure it out. Building Noka Supply has given me the opportunity to learn these lessons deeply, in ways I couldn’t in a classroom.
You’re now about three years into life as the founder and CEO of a start-up. What has been the most rewarding part of that process?
Hearing from customers! That sounds so cheesy but it’s true. It means a lot when I talk to someone who is genuinely excited about the product I designed. Something I made is out there in the world bringing some little bit of joy to people’s lives.
You’re one of those Nokabox users yourself. How is your product bringing joy to your own life?
I travel all the time for work (when there’s not a pandemic!) and was absolutely blown away when I started using the Nokabox. It was an aha moment, like “holy sh*t, this actually works!” It keeps things organized and makes it so I have the supplements I want handy, and ensures I don’t accidentally take my multivitamin and sleep supplements twice the same day. I can see them right in the drawer, or see the empty drawer, and it eliminates that little bit of anxiety, that little bit of extra stress that goes into making sure I’m taking care of myself when there’s so much else going on. It makes me feel like I’m checking off a list- I did what I needed to do today!