Boston-based wearable company PAVLOK wins trip to Richard Branson’s Necker Island

The ultimate cure for procrastination--Pavlok's wearable device that zaps you with an electric shock to keep you focused on your work.
The ultimate cure for procrastination--Pavlok's wearable device that zaps you with an electric shock to keep you focused on your work.

Five days on a private island with Richard Branson? For one little Boston startup, it’s not just a vacation, but an opportunity to learn business techniques from one of the masters.

PAVLOK, a company which creates wearable devices that aim to break bad habits in their wearers through the use of minute electric shocks, is one of the six winners of the Build a Business Competition, hosted by Shopify, an online retail platform for upstart companies.

The winners of the competition will be shuttled on a private jet to Necker Island and spend five days being mentored by some big business names, such as Branson, Daymond John from the ABC show “Shark Tank,and entrepreneur/angel investor Tim Ferriss.

In order to be eligible for the competition, entrepreneurs needed to create an entirely new company between October 2014 and May 2015 and sell products using the Shopify platform. The six stores with the highest sales over a two-month period were named the winners. PAVLOK has sold more than 3,000 production pre-orders and 800 prototypes of their bands, some of which were on the Shopify platform and others through their successful Indiegogo campaign.

“We are one of the top businesses on all of Shopify, which is very encouraging,” said Sims McGrath III, marketing manager at PAVLOK. “The thing we want to get out of this experience is that we want to learn how to grow our business.”

PAVLOK’s wristbands aim to help end bad habits through aversion therapy, in which a user is subjected to an unpleasant sensation while being exposed to a stimulus, hopefully in order to trick the brain into associating that stimulus with discomfort.

Depending on how the band has been programmed, when a user reaches their hand up to their mouth to bite their nails, or smoke a cigarette, for example, they receive a small electric shock that increases in intensity the more that the user ignores the reminder. The band can be programmed to recognize a number of inputs, including behaviors such as an inability to wake up in the morning.

“We want to see our band on every wrist in this world in the next 15 years,” said McGrath. “That’s our big, hairy, audacious plan.”