Chapel Hill entrepreneurs making apps for kids with anxiety disorders


Jesse Burkhart
Digital Producer- Triangle Business Journal


A husband-and-wife team in Chapel Hill has turned to technology to help children with anxiety disorders.

The Daily Tar Heel recently profiled Jen and Pete Minnelli, the founders of rubycube, which is a mobile app company that develops apps for children with high-functioning austim, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and other social challenges.

The “storysmart” apps help the children navigate various social scenarios by asking them to make decisions based on the character in the story, and then give immediate feedback on whether that decision was right.

The Minnellis told The Daily Tar Heel that they were inspired to develop the apps after they grew frustrated with the lack of understanding among educators who couldn’t sufficiently address the challenges faced by their 11-year-old daughter, Ruby (the company’s namesake), who was diagnosed with high-functioning autism, ADHD and anxiety.

“Children on the spectrum are never going to be neuro-typical, but they have their own unique strengths and capabilities and with the right interventions — like this app — they’re always going to make progress compared to themselves,” Jen Minnelli said. “That’s what we’re hoping for.”

Burkhart oversees TBJ’s web operation.