Feature Friday! Kaalmi

This summer, the Dingman Center will be conducting interviews with the 11 student startups participating in our in-person Terp Startup summer accelerator since 2020. Participating student entrepreneurs will receive a stipend of up to $5,000 that will enable them to work exclusively on their startups over the next eight weeks.

Founder: Matthew Foulk ’23, Mathematics

Matthew Foulk pitching to judges at the 2023 Pitch Dingman Competition.

DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?

Foulk: At Kaalmi, we are creating sensory-based solutions for individuals facing mental health struggles. We are empowering people to take control of their well-being by offering innovative tools that can support traditional methods.

DC: At what point did you know you wanted to create your own startup?

Foulk: I come from a family of serial entrepreneurs. My grandfather has started numerous companies, my dad is developing his startup (Argo Navigation), and my sisters are both working on starting their own businesses (wecansaw.com, Pots for Plants with Personality). I love the idea of adding value to the world and an innovative startup is a clear path to do exactly that. So to answer the question, I don’t feel there has ever been a point where I actually knew what I wanted to do. But given the influences around me and the dreams I have for the future, I’ve almost always been on a path to creating my own company.

DC: Who or what is your biggest influence for your startup?
Foulk: My partner Paige is the inspiration behind this startup. Her compassion and empathy has shaped our vision to support those struggling with their mental health. And on top of that, she created the original design of our Five Senses Box.

DC: Why did you decide to start a business in this industry?
Foulk: Recognizing the lack of physical resources in the mental health space, we saw an opportunity to address a critical problem impacting millions of people. The growing mental health crisis necessitates innovative solutions, and we are determined to fill the gap and provide valuable support.

A Kaalmi Box, designed to engage the five senses, offers a tangible solution for managing anxiety and panic attacks, drawing inspiration from coping techniques like the 5-4-3-2-1 method.

DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last few months?
Foulk: Our company has been catalyzed through the support of UMD and the Dingman team. We were a finalist in Pitch Dingman’s Idea Track this spring and are currently participating in the Terp Startup Accelerator. This has allowed us to explore the fundamentals of our business through in-depth interviews and develop functional prototypes of our Five Senses Box.

DC: When it comes to your startup, how do you define success?
Foulk: Every day is a new success. The interactions I’ve had with peers and mentors have opened so many opportunities and continue to expand my understanding of the world. I’ve learned so much that I wouldn’t have otherwise, and the fact that I get to continue to work on this is a major success for me. Our ultimate success will be when therapists actively recommend our products to their clients, which will be a testament to the value we add to the mental health journey.

DC: What are you hoping to achieve during Terp Startup Accelerator this summer?

Foulk: Our primary goal is to refine our understanding of our customers and market to ensure we are developing resources that maximize our positive social impact. We have so much to learn, so I hope we can absorb as much expertise as possible from the Dingman team and the other amazing entrepreneurs (education through osmosis). I hope to walk out after 8-weeks with a brain filled with useful information and a renewed confidence that we are going in the right direction.

DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Foulk: Start.

To learn more about Kaalmi, please visit the website here.

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