2018 Winner
Wise 50 Over 50 Award™

Catherine Winckler – Mindful Garden Digital Health


When our mother died as a result of a high profile medical error in 2000, I could not have anticipated the pivot my own life would take. From running a 25-year, 35-person multi-million dollar digital design agency with TV networks and independent producers as clients, today I lead a small and talented team in a bootstrapped pre-revenue start-up harnessing these same interactive digital technologies, but now applied to healthcare.

I started Mindful Garden at the age of 65. We call MindfulGarden the digital ‘crashcart’ for frail seniors experiencing hyperactive delirum/dementia. In a nutshell, it’s the videogame that the individual doesn’t know they are playing. As they gesture or shout, MindfulGarden captures this input and responds with colourful visualizations on-screen. Aggression and anxiety de-escalate. Reliance on psychotropic drugs and restraints (for too long the ‘tools of first reach’) is reduced or eliminated.

This idea of bringing ‘story’ to complex issues has always been part of my entrepreneurial journey — from ownership of a gourmet soup business called The Soup Doctor (Soup to Nourish the Spirit™) to a partnership in a design firm organized around the promise, The Story Through Design™. I’ve found that many entrepreneurs over 50 share this experience of a personal event or story guiding them to their next business. For me, reinvention is most rewarding this time around. Although the competitor in me of course looks to global scalability in the years to come, I also look equally to building a business that is meaningful, and has me working daily with people I admire, and for people who need our solution. Best of all, this has become the legacy to my mother that I badly needed to come full circle.

Two formal clinical studies for MindfulGarden are underway this Fall/WInter – one in a long-term care setting; one in a regional hospital. Stay tuned.