Spotlight: Helen Behn

Entrepreneurial Spotlight

Helen, Helen, lovely and spunky Helen.

Helen entered our world when she entered (and subsequently won) the Propelle Retreat Scholarship Contest. Little did we know at the time how wonderful and business-savvy she was. Now that we know, we are inspired daily by her tenacity and drive.

We are also damn excited to see what she has been working on so diligently this year with her business.

Also, just a warning: Helen is pretty stinkin' cute. As evidenced by her playful and fun interview. We hope you enjoy it (and her) as much as we do.




Name: Helen Volkov Behn 
Business: Spand-Ice™ Job title: CEO, Founder 
 Twitter: @Spand_Ice Facebook: LinkedIn: Spand-Ice

Introduce yourself as if you were speaking from the cockpit. Welcome aboard Spand-Ice Air with service from Pittsburgh to anywhere at anytime! I’m Helen and I’ll be your Pilot for today’s flight. On Spand-Ice Air we aim to reduce pain in your everyday life and travel experiences through a unique on-the-go therapy garment. That’s right – we’re bringing your comfort level to first class.

Not only have we reinvented the way people manage pain and inflammation, we’re also saving time streamlining operations and flight patterns. So, instead of the normal 3-hour flight time to our destination, we will be landing in roughly 15-20 minutes, the time of a therapy application (depending on tail winds). We don’t mess around here at Spand-Ice – maximizing your time is our specialty.

On behalf of the flight deck we'd like to say sit back, relax and let Spand-Ice therapy work its magic. By the time we get you where you need to go, you’ll be feeling relaxed, refreshed and ready to buzz the tower – right Goose?

When did you earn your wings? Since I suffer from chronic low back pain myself, Spand-Ice has been a twinkle in my eye, second star to the right and straight on ‘til morning for a few years now. I wanted to create a fashionable mobile therapy product that was comfortable, adjustable, and that I could use without having to be sedentary – all while keeping the therapy hot or cold for longer periods of time. Within the last year, I made that dream a reality and was cleared for take-off.

Anyone who’s started their own business knows it take a lot more than just fancy flying to get off the ground. So, I created my plan on paper and was wings down focused on market research, product development and learning from those who have flown before me. I starting working with PantherlabWorks, a startup accelerator at the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence, and could see through the fog where there was a gap in the marketplace for thermal therapy. I’m pleased to say that we’re now gearing up for our product release so this bird can fly on it’s own.

Focusing with the first release on low back pain, Spand-Ice offers a consistent and easy way of decreasing pain in your life while not taking time out of your busy schedule to do so.

If you could name a nail polish color after yourself of your business, what would it be? I always see a combination of RED and BLUE swirls to represent hot and cold therapy. It wouldn’t necessarily be purple, but the two colors coming together that would have that crackle effect, like the shatter polishes. I would call it something like: I Desire Ice and Fire, Heated Popsicle, ChillyHeat or RedHotFrost. I can’t quite decide!

There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but I can only narrow it down to 4 final names.

Not all flights are smooth. Tell us about how you handle turbulence in your business and life. Please use caution when opening the overhead compartments as shift happens! After a particularly hard landing, I might need some time to reflect on the big picture, not the details that are grounding me. I personally do my best thinking during my workouts or on my night flights. For example, I came up with the name “Spand-Ice” at 3 am after a few hours of sleep!

You may get to a point in your work where you’re coming in too fast and have to hit the brakes or opportunities will fly right by. You have to learn to adapt and switch from missiles to guns. As long as you keep focused on your customer, you can work around changes in flight patterns and you will reach your destination.

Just remember, there is a lesson in everything and in the event of an emergency water landing, your Spand-Ice garment can be used as a flotation device. Please take it with our compliments.

Who is the wind beneath your wings? I have an amazing support system within my family. When I told them I was going to start my own business, Brand and everything in between – they supported me wholeheartedly.

I would also say my husband Bernhard Behn is my North Star and when I feel like I’m going to literally fall out of the sky, he’s always there to help me navigate through.

What's your advice to other women as they navigate the business world? Here’s my advice:

  • If you find yourself doing nosedives in a MIG 28 or you’re asking yourself “What’s our vector, Victor” (or your ego’s writing checks your body can’t cash) – Listen to your gut – no one knows your business as well as you do. Continue to talk to people in the industry, learn from the mistakes they’ve made, but ultimately make your own decisions.
  • Request a fly by, even if the pattern is full. In this business, you have to be creative about getting your product in front of the right people – Passion, persistence and tenacity go a long way.
  • Figure out why you exist in business. Make sure your product / services are unique or filling a gap in the marketplace.

In closing, I’d like to thank you for flying Spand-Ice Air. We hope you enjoyed giving us the business as much as we enjoyed taking you for a ride.