I always knew I was different from my peers. I immigrated to Verona, NJ, at six years old, and the first friends I made were the senior citizens in my apartment complex. Unlike kids my age, they didn’t care if I had a funny accent or what clothes I wore, and they helped me acclimate to American culture — although Mom had a bit of a shock when she realized the people I invited to my seventh birthday party were old enough to be her parents!
When I was 10, my best friend Madeline died at the age of 86. Then Richard passed away a few months later, followed by Albert, and Milly. It was crushing for a fifth grader to process so much loss, and it galvanized me to find a solution to the problem of aging, so I could keep my remaining friends around for as long as possible.
I understand now how complex that question really is, but the desire has never left me to make growing old easier so we can all live longer, healthier, more meaningful lives.
My efforts started small — I got a job at a nursing home in my sophomore year of high school, and kept it until I left for college. I loved working with the residents, especially the ones in the final stages of dementia. They lived in the moment and might not remember who you were, but they never forgot how you made them feel. I even met my future husband while working there. No, he wasn’t a resident, just a young engineer who believed in my dreams.
At college I pursued my interests by studying Biochemistry and Gerontology, while he studied Business. Between us, we developed the knowledge and skills to take our ambitions to the next level. I founded a home healthcare business that enabled dementia and Alzheimer’s patients to retain their independence, while he entered e-commerce logistics. Both companies thrived — mine enjoyed 600 percent YoY growth and employed hundreds of staff, while his grew to a $20M brand with four international locations.
We had the success we’d always dreamed of, but I wasn’t making the impact I’d envisioned and I started to burn out. My work was important, but by the time I met my patients, their health was already irreversibly declining, and the razor-thin margins insurance allowed meant I couldn’t offer my staff the opportunities they deserved to advance their careers. As time went on, the search for a new way of giving back began to consume me.
I decided to sell the healthcare business in order to focus on my original passions. That’s how Qyral was conceived. It’s the culmination of my life journey and experiences, giving me the opportunity to explore the science behind aging, help others to learn about the biological processes we all go through, and empower others through entrepreneurship. And heck, if the byproduct is healthier, more youthful skin — even better!
Continue Reading Meet Hanieh Sigari of Qyral