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Hidden Gems: Meet Celine Tien of Flowly

Today we’d like to introduce you to Celine Tien.

Celine, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
My story is full of strange twists and turns so bear with me! I grew up passionate about storytelling. Storytelling came to me in the form of incessant writing and reading, and then later on, acting in the film/TV industry. As a child actor, I loved both the art of acting but also the business of the industry. This led me to explore other types of entrepreneurship. In high school, I founded a nonprofit organization called Zoom for Kids! where high school students would teach younger students classes like Chemistry of Nail Polish, Physics of Basketball, and more.

Through Zoom for Kids! I was selected as the youngest participant to join a group of Thiel fellows in Silicon Valley to dive into tech and incubate new ideas. While I was tempted to drop out of school, I ended up getting into my dream college and really wanted to explore life there.

At Yale, I started working for DreamWorks in China and the U.S., and became very involved in their interactive technology and VR content strategy. I fell in love with Virtual Reality and discovered it had been used since the 1980s for pain and anxiety management. Because I grew up around cancer patients who experience deep pain and anxiety, this immediately drew me more to VR.

Soon after, I left DreamWorks and worked with my future cofounders on an initial VR project that was selected for 2017 CES and 2017 Cannes Film Festival. That project would become the precursor to our team and work today in Flowly.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Our first time fundraising was one of the biggest challenges I’ve experienced in my career. I am a young woman of color in a very traditional world of health and medicine. There were times when investors assumed my male cofounder was the CEO (I am) in a meeting, or when the investor and their admin assumed I was the assistant cc’d on the email.

We had one investor who wrote “I’m into out of the box ideas” on his website bio and when we pitched, he said we were amazing but this was “just too out of the box” for him.

As you know, we’re big fans of Flowly. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
Flowly is a science-backed and data-driven method designed to reduce chronic pain for 100 million Americans.

Using a mobile app and VR headset, Flowly uses biometric data such as HR and HRV and converts it to visualizations in virtual experiences that reduce pain by over 46%. The founding team is made up of Yale, DreamWorks, and Hyperloop One alums in conjunction with a world-class clinical team at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and USC. Flowly has also been studied in NIH-backed clinical trials that show an average 40% reduction in opioid usage.

Flowly is backed by Y Combinator and has been featured by Inc., People, US Pain Foundation and more.

Any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general?
I like to create a list of people I look up to. Once I have a list of people I admire, I start to ask around my community for potential connections and then sign myself up for events and conferences where the person I’m hoping to connect with might be speaking or presenting. Once you have clarity on the type of person you would like to be your mentor, you will have better clarity on how to find and connect with them.


  • Individual – $45/month
  • Individual – $240/year
  • Family Plan (Coming Soon)

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Image Credits
Celine Tien

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