Entrepreneur launches recovery app with help from area incubators

Cris Collingwood//October 31, 2022

Entrepreneur launches recovery app with help from area incubators

Cris Collingwood//October 31, 2022

State Rep. Patty Kim, D-Dauphin, Johnson, and Joseph Hackett, executive in residence at Ben Franklin Technology Partners – PHOTO/PROVIDED

Sharina Johnson knows firsthand the need for support after completing a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program. 

Her journey through recovery led her to start a new venture, Arcana Recovery Inc., to help others facing similar issues. 

Through the help of Penn State Idea TestLab, Ben Franklin Partnership and the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) at Harrisburg University, Johnson has launched arcanarecovery.com, an app that connects people leaving a recovery program to resources in their area. 

“When I left the Lebanon Veterans Administration treatment center, I had no resources. I felt lost as I was put back into my environment,” the young combat veteran said. “I had a person who valued me and checked in on me three times a week. He walked the journey with me.” 

Johnson wants to offer that to others in drug and alcohol treatment. Jay Jayamohan, executive director of CIE thinks she’s on the right track. 

“With the growing opioid overdose and the increasing mental health challenges from loneliness due to pandemic, there is a big need for solutions that connect patients with the right resources at the right time,” he said. “If Arcana can execute on their growth plan, they fill a much-needed gap in the market to predict and intervene a potential relapse, resource suggestions and individualized recovery treatments plans.” 

Johnson went through an 8-week cohort at Penn State Idea TestLab. She was then referred to the Ben Franklin Technology Partners’ TechCelerator where she was awarded $7,000 for her idea.  

She also received help developing her business model, which she said she had no idea how to start. 

“The advisors and mentors,” she said, “helped me learn how to create the business plan and what steps I needed to actually get the product to market.” 

As she continued research into creating the app, she turned to Harrisburg University for more direction. 

“Sharina approached us more than six months back when she heard that Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship (CIE) has the lengthiest incubator program in PA, said Jayamohan. “As an incubator company, we play an important role in empowering innovators to build successful ventures by providing tools, resources, and opportunities to make a difference in communities where they live and work.” 

CIE provided Johnson with 18 months of free space, up to four student employees (paid by CIE), legal and technology partners, and mentors.  

 With their help, “I hired an AI developer who taught me about algorithms,” Johnson said. “I developed a pitch and made connections that allowed me to raise $100,000 from investors. Ben Franklin matched that in October,” she said. 

Johnson plans to continue developing the app so providers can track clients’ goals, plans and milestones. The app will also provide information on any services people might need, including clothing, housing, and emotional support. 

“Right now, the app offers help from a certified recovery specialist who checks in with the client on a regular basis,” she said. 

Her goal is to have the full app operational by April. Johnson said that Arcana Recovery, Inc. is continuing to partner with different entities and programs focused on addiction.  

Her goal, she said, is to see it progress into a full-service resource.