ND Founders Profile #13: Notre Dame Alumna Launches App That Helps People Manage Chronic Pain

Author: Lillian Piz

Laura Seago Nd Founders Facebook Web Laura Seago (McGlinn Hall, ND ‘09) launched Curable Groups last year


Company Founded: Curable Year Graduated: 2009
Title: Co-Founder and Head of Content Degree: B.B.A., Accounting
Location: Chicago, IL and Denver, CO Residence Hall: McGlinn Hall

As soon as Laura Seago (ND ‘09) experienced what she had previously thought to be impossible, the subsiding of her severe chronic pain, she knew that she needed to find a way to share this with others. Suffering from a combination of chronic migraines, sciatica and knee pain, Seago was dejected after seeking out countless doctors and taking expensive medications and treatments, all to no avail - until she met Dr. John Stracks. “He took me through a very different treatment approach. We didn’t focus on medication but we focused on my brain and nervous system and how my thoughts and feelings were impacting my migraines.” 

Seago began to attend Stracks’s educational lectures and discussion groups at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Within a few weeks of putting the techniques she learned into practice, she felt the pain begin to lift away. After her transformative recovery, Seago joined forces with fellow chronic pain sufferers John Gribbin and Erich Luedtke to build Curable, an app that provides evidence-based non-medicinal techniques for chronic pain self care. 

After what was a life-changing experience for Seago, she reached out to friends and coworkers in similar situations to learn from their experiences. “We were really stuck as to why more people didn’t know about [this approach to chronic pain care].” Seago, Gribbin and Luedtke believed they had found a compelling opportunity to bring peace of mind and body to millions experiencing debilitating pain. Seago remembers thinking, “no one ever mentioned to me that my thoughts or feelings or what was going on in the world around me could influence the way my body was responding [to pain]. So we thought to ourselves that there has got to be a way to get this out to everyone because this is supported by modern pain science; it’s just not in the medical mainstream community yet.”

Determined to see this idea through, Seago, Gribbin and Luedtke harnessed their collective years of experience in marketing and tech and went to work to put this unique approach into action through the Curable app. The Curable platform is loaded with science-backed exercises, including: guided meditation, guided visualization, cognitive behavioral therapy techniques and bite-sized audio lessons about the neuroscience behind pain. A “smart coach” named Clara walks users through the content in a personalized and engaging way. After first launching the app back in 2016, Seago described their excited feelings of slight disbelief that delivering this type of healing through an app was really working for people. “The first few people that used it started feeling better and they said ‘I can’t believe it’ and we said ‘we kind of can’t either.”

Of course, the Curable journey was not an easy one. “It was a huge leap for all of us,” says Seago. “We all had to make a lot of sacrifices to get the business where it is today.” Even so, Seago was confident that this was the right decision. “We had personally experienced the difference this could make in people’s lives because it happened to us. We were going to do whatever it took until it started working.”

Today, Curable continues to expand its core business capabilities. Launched last year, Curable Groups is their latest offering which allows small groups of users to meet virtually and work through a 12-week workshop where they engage in group discussions and can consult a physician who specializes in chronic pain. “People have loved it to a degree that I never expected and it has grown at such a rate that it is really helping us to expand awareness of the app.” 

As the world has recently experienced a dramatic shift from its normal routines to working from home and social distancing, Seago discusses some of the challenges that exist for chronic pain sufferers today and how Curable’s resources are becoming even more relevant to the situation in which most of the world has found itself. “It is going to be especially valuable at this point in time because people can’t access therapy as easily and we’re kind of already set up for exactly what they need right now.” 

Seago can trace a clear connection between her passion for Curable and the values she learned as a Notre Dame student, like authenticity and staying true to one’s values. “I can run this company with real intention and purpose. This is something I picked up on at Notre Dame. Now I have a career that is aligned with something I truly care about, and that is the greatest gift.”

Seago attributes her success to her deep, personal connection with the problem. Seago cautions entrepreneurs, “don’t [start a business] unless you have a very urgent and important problem you truly care about. The only way to get through those [inevitable entrepreneurial] obstacles is to be solving a problem you genuinely care about in your core.” 

You can download Curable through the App Store.

Registration to join Curable Groups is currently open and you can learn more here.