The Science of Better
How one Lake Nona startup is leveraging technology for better mental and cognitive health and performance
If there was an affordable app to help you train your brain for better cognitive health, mental wellness, and human performance, would you download it?
That’s the vision at NESTRE (pronounced nes-tree), one of six startups selected to participate in the inaugural cohort of the leAD Lake Nona Sports & Health Tech Accelerator.
NESTRE is a neuro-strength platform that provides cognitive assessments, training, and analytics to help you monitor and improve both your mental (referring to the mind or mindset) and cognitive (referring to the brain) performance.
NESTRE’s solutions are results-driven and have been successfully utilized by elite performers including professional and collegiate athletes, coaches, medical professionals, and executives in an in-person setting. Now, NESTRE is bringing its science and solutions to every walk of life with a one-of-a-kind app.
The brains behind NESTRE are Founder and CEO Dr. Tommy Shavers and COO Kyle Israel. Both are former UCF football players and alumni, Lake Nona residents, and business partners.
In this Q&A, Dr. Shavers and Kyle share the inspiration behind NESTRE, what it’s like in Lake Nona’s first accelerator program, and what’s next for the company.
What is NESTRE?
Dr. Shavers: NESTRE means neuro-strength and is anchored in the science of neuroplasticity – our brain’s capacity to change. At NESTRE, we look at every walk of life from a performance perspective, whether that’s in recovery, health and wellness, human advancement, or the highest level of cognitive demand in sports or business.
Our goal is to leverage the science of neuroplasticity to increase mental and cognitive performance. To do that, we’re creating a mental and cognitive strength training app using Exponential Plasticity™ – our system-based brain training modality within the app helps identify each user’s unique mindset profile, and customize the training and engagement experience for users.
If you’re familiar with mindfulness and brain training apps like Calm and Lumosity, we’re looking to provide a unique differentiator using a systematic approach to identify and improve mental and cognitive abilities. For example, going for a walk can build muscle in an organic way while having a strength and conditioning training program can build muscle in an intentional way. In the same way, we see the NESTRE app as the digital workout environment for the mind and the brain – the most important workout of the day!
What is your inspiration behind NESTRE?
Dr. Shavers: My passion for this work comes from my personal experience with cognitive impairment and recovery. When I played football at UCF, I had concussive fits that ultimately ended my playing career. My symptoms never went away and I began to experience mental and cognitive impairment that became significantly worse over time.
My doctor told my wife and I that the science said these symptoms don’t get better. At the time, we were in our mid-20s with our first child and I refused to accept that reality. So, I began to develop a theoretical framework for mental and cognitive rehab. I had an opportunity to share my story and the model I created for self-recovery when I was collaborating with some of the top neuroscientists and neuropsychologists at Harvard. That became the seed for what is now NESTRE.
Prior to our app development, I successfully applied the NESTRE model to others who are experiencing high-stress, demanding environments, and saw great results. I’m excited to continue to develop a scalable, accessible model that can address brain-based health, wellness, performance, and productivity challenges for those who need it most.
How did you team up on NESTRE?
Kyle: We knew of each other through UCF football and one day we got to talking about the cognitive challenges student athletes face after graduation. I shared my concern for those athletes who struggled with the same symptoms I experienced – loss of identity, heavy depression, weight gain, and more. That’s when Dr. Shavers told me he’d been working on something that could help and said he’d love for me to be part of it when he was ready. A year later, he came back to me with the foundations of NESTRE, and some of the early results he’d achieved with high performers in professional sports. I was all in and joined the team full-time to help grow the company from a fundraising, development, and operations perspective.
What led NESTRE to Lake Nona?
Dr. Shavers: I see Lake Nona as the Silicon Valley of health, wellness, and performance and moved here with a vision in mind to grow NESTRE in this incredible ecosystem. My wife and I laugh now because I say that my Super Bowl with NESTRE would be winning a Nobel prize one day. It wasn’t until months after we moved to Laureate Park that I realized the streets are named after Nobel Laureates. What better inspiration for one day becoming a Nobel Laureate than living every day in their presence.
Tell us about your work with the leAD Lake Nona Sports & Health Tech Accelerator – how has it helped support your business?
Kyle: The leAD Lake Nona Sports & Health Tech Accelerator has been a remarkable and eye-opening experience of what the future holds in the digital tech space. When they say ‘accelerator,’ that’s exactly what it does! It has provided such an extraordinary ecosystem for creativity and collaboration. There are a lot of incredible accelerators across the country, but when we realize what we’ve experienced here and the resources, mentors, support, and insights we’ve been provided – this is better than any of us could have imagined.
When you think about what’s in our proximity – the Orlando VA Medical Center, Nemours, GuideWell, USTA National Campus, KPMG, and UCF – with what Tavistock (Lake Nona’s developer) is building in Lake Nona, it’s hard to imagine that a startup could be in a more powerful networking position. It would have been extremely challenging to make those connections had we not been part of the program. I’m really excited to be living here and experiencing it firsthand, knowing this is only the beginning.
Dr. Shavers: The whole experience has been outstanding. Coming from a sports background, this has been like another locker room for us. The collaboration and camaraderie we’ve built with the other teams has been amazing. The network, resources, experts, and training have been top notch and have helped us transform in a short amount of time and find clarity in who we are and what we’re doing.
What’s next for NESTRE?
Dr. Shavers: The NESTRE app is our first neuroplasticity tech solution. We’re excited to bring our NESTRE science of better to the world and to continue to develop smarter human possibility technologies, and build on the momentum of our early results with top performers in pro sports, medicine, and business. We are also excited about the collaborative vision of some of our key investors and partners such as leAD Lake Nona Sports & Health Tech Accelerator and former NFL star Calvin Johnson.
We are focused on getting the NESTRE app into the hands of those who want to get better and those who need to get better, with the future of integrating wearable compatibility, real-time analytics, and AR/VR technologies.
We have several preliminary partnerships with research institutions like the Harvard Global Health Summit and International Phytomedicines Institute, where I oversee sports and health initiatives. We’re exploring collaborative research in cognitive recovery and performance using neuronano-technology. Where there is a mind and a brain, there’s an opportunity for NESTRE to help someone get better.
Kyle: Everyone is welcome to sign up for updates about the app and pre-register for the full launch later this year. Plus, there will be a discount for those who pre-register before the app goes live and some pre-registrants will even have the chance to participate in complimentary beta testing before the launch.
To learn more about NESTRE and pre-register for the app, visit www.nestreperformance.com. For more information about the leAD Lake Nona Sports & Health TechAccelerator, visit www.leadsports.com/academy/lake-nona.