The Humegy Corporation Story
Claris Castillo Singh, CEO and Founder
Picture: The healing well of our home in Cary, North Carolina.
We were recently named finalists of the prestigious Amber grant for April, “Distinguished Business Winner 2023”, and “Meritorius Business Grant Winner.” This is a summary of our story.
Right before the pandemic hit, I launched Humegy Corporation after 12+ years of a research career in technology and cloud computing. I wanted to develop technology solutions to help bridge the gap between people and nature to boost their mental health and well-being. This entrepreneurial journey grew from a renewed purpose to aligning my professional career with my passion for the environment and spending my coming years making the World a better place. As the pandemic made working from home a new norm, I fell ill with symptoms that limited my mobility. This limitation further isolated me within my house, where I helped my two young children (a kindergartener and a 2nd grader) survive virtual school. During this time, I found myself without my only coping mechanism: my daily four-mile walk on the greenway around my neighborhood in beautiful North Carolina. Without realizing it, I increased my collection of indoor plants till my living room started to look like a tropical forest. I started tending to my plants first in the morning, before my family woke up, and interacting with them throughout the day. Indoor plants became my primary source of healing and well-being as I waited for my symptoms to subside, to reinstate my walks, and for my kids to return to school!
The early-pandemic journey with plants made me realize the therapeutic power of indoor plants in ways traditionally associated with wild outdoor settings. In the process of founding Humegy Corporation, which initially targeted the corporate market, I started researching nature-based interventions (NBIs). NBIs are strategies that aim to engage people in nature-based experiences with the specific goal of achieving improved health and well-being. I learned that NBIs had grown in popularity during the pandemic, and more and more doctors were prescribing activities like walks in the woods and birdwatching to help their patients boost their mental health. In fact, the United States and Canada had recently launched ParkRx, a non-profit organization to educate healthcare professionals on nature experiences outdoors. The UK government earmarked millions to increase access to green environments nationwide post-pandemic. What struck me the most in my research is that all NBIs focus on outdoor settings. Where did this reality leave people with physical disabilities? What about the people who live far removed from the green outdoors? I learned that in America, underserved communities have 44% less access to green parks when compared to their privileged counterparts. And we have 36 million Americans with physical disabilities preventing them from walking or climbing, which affects poor communities the most! Many people are missing out on the powerful healing benefits of nature experiences.
The rest of this journey is history. My immediate goal is to democratize access to the health benefits of nature to everyone, regardless of socio-economic status and physical abilities. I literally pulled up my sleeves, and PhyBe was born. I formed a team with a co-founder, engineers, business, accounting, and legal experts, and together we invented, built, and filed a patent for a habit-building product and app to help people develop sustainable interaction habits with indoor plants to improve their mental health and well-being. Our team is executing on our multi-year product launch plan from ramp-up to customer adoption, ultimately to benefitting society and our world.
PhyBe’s value proposition lies in its ability to gradually integrate plant caring into the user’s daily routine, bringing the user’s attention to the present moment through their plants, making them more mindful, and improving their general well-being with subtle yet regular engagement with plants. By integrating knowledge from environmental psychology, “habit-building” technology, and mental health into this new product, we believe it will transform the life of everyone living away from nature.