Andreas Forsland, Cognixion CEO and founder, is determined to make changes in the field of communication. His company recently raised $12 million in seed funding to advance its efforts in building brain-monitoring headsets for people living with disabilities. He hopes to develop a predictive speech algorithm to help users piece together full sentences and add a future that will enable Alexa integration. The motivation for this passionate CEO is all about creating a solution for a problem he discovered when his mother was sick. Here are ten facts to tell you more about him.
1. His First Application for a Trademark Was Rejected
Forsland wanted to register Cognixion with the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), but they rejected his application. The office explained that the trademark was a normal word despite the tweak of spelling it with an “x” instead of “t.” The CEO was, however, determined to remain with his chosen trademark. So, he had the IVR on the corporate phone system say “welcome to Cognix ion.” Forsland then tried his luck registering the trademark as a phonetic variant, and it was approved.
2. His Inspiration to Change the Trademark to a Phonetic Variant
In his interview with Qualio, Forsland revealed that the idea to use a phonetic variation came from Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx. Blakely had researched and realized that made-up words did better as brand names than real words. Therefore, when she settled on “Spanks,” she decided to replace the “ks” with “x” because she thought it sounded funny. It was a great decision that only took her $150 to register the trademark; thus, Forsland learned from his friend’s strategy.
3. His First Job was at IBM
On his LinkedIn profile, Forsland lists being a senior designer at IBM Global Services as the first job he ever held. He was an employee there from March 1995 to March 1996 and was an early member of the “e-business” global business organization. He designed some of the first interactive and internet experiences using multimedia.
4. His Mother Inspired Him to Venture into Communication Technology
Forsland’s mother visited him in Santa Barbara for her 70th birthday but ended up falling sick with pneumonia. Her condition worsened; thus, she was in the ICU, so ill that she needed a ventilator. Since the ventilator gives the patient oxygen through a tube inserted in the mouth or nose, the CEO’s mother tried communicating. Unfortunately, her efforts were futile, which frustrated her. The desperate attempts made Forsland realize how much communication was important in enhancing the human life experience. It dawned on him how catastrophic it was to have communication cut off because it affected the quality of care.
5. His Company Began as “Smartstones”
After being inspired to help his mother to communicate, Forsland came up with an innovative device. According to Futurism, he wanted a simple device that would let the other person know that she was awake. Therefore, the only two messages in the system were “Come Now,” and “I am awake.” However, people wanted something that would help patients with different types of disabilities. The innovator came up with :prose app after incorporating his company Smartstones, Inc. in 2013. He later rebranded it as "Cognixion" in 2017.
6. His Opinion on the Challenges of Technology
As he carried on with the desire to assist those facing communication difficulties, the CEO noticed that it was nearly impossible to tailor technology to suit the needs of each individual. He explained the challenge came because users could not use the interface, and once he knew this, he set about making a difference with his technology. He partnered with companies that made sensory hardware to enable people living with other disabilities would use sensors to communicate. As a result, “thought messages” were transmitted through brainwaves thanks to an EEG headset that sent push notifications.
7. He Believes Cognixion’s Work is Only a Pebble, Creating a Ripple Effect
The ripple effect is a term that has been adopted in various fields. In business, it implies that one action will affect different entities. In psychology, it refers to how the mood of one person will affect the entire group. Forsland believes that even if his work is focused on addressing the needs of those living with disabilities, it will have a much larger effect on the global community. He argues that by concentrating on one unique need, the entire world benefits when the solutions are adopted worldwide.
8. Doctors Said His Mother Would Not Survive
Forsland's mother escaped death by a whisker. When she fell ill with pneumonia, she also went into septic shock and suffered kidney failure. According to Cerebral Palsy News Today, Forsland was out of town that day. Luckily, she managed to call for an ambulance on her own. By the time her son arrived at the hospital, things were not looking up, and doctors asked Forsland if his mother had her affairs in order. Instead of giving up on her, the CEO had her put on life support. He went on his knees, hoping for a miraculous recovery that occurred and shocked everyone, including the doctors.
9. Why He Called His First Invention “Hopestone”
The CEO imagined as his mother lay in the hospital bed, unable to speak, her friends prayed for her. He also envisioned them sending her messages of hope and care by rubbing a pebble-sized stone. He hoped to develop a sensorial method of staying in touch and sending out good vibes. Therefore, a year after his mother’s recovery, he attended Startup Weekend and pitched this vision to about 300 entrepreneurs. As a result, he came up with a product to facilitate communication and appropriately named it “Hopestone” but later changed it to “Touchstone.”
10. Why He Chose to Expand to Toronto
According to Toronto Global, Forsland was excited to expand to Toronto. The region is recognized for its large pool of talent in the tech field, specifically machine learning, artificial intelligence, and neuroscience. He said creating high-quality jobs has always been a focus of Cognixion.
Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee