Tracking vital signs is a crucial means for preventing disease. However, it’s a big time demand on caretakers of the most vulnerable patients and rarely done for much of the general population.
V-Sense is developing monitors using NASA Jet Propulsion Lab radar technology to remotely and continuously monitor key vital signs. I talked to the company’s CEO, Jeff Nosanov, about learning how to apply this new technology, lessons moving from research to startups, and goals for V-Sense. Check out his pitch live on February 4th on IndieBio’s Demo Day Livestream!
A: Tell me about your background, how did you get interested in the biotech space?
J: I always wanted to be an astronaut and started college in engineering because of this. I later switched out to approach the space world from a different angle and got the first ever Space and Telecommunication Law degree. That got me my job at NASA Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) testing clinical application for a new radar technology. My biotech interest started in 2012 after my newborn was in the NICU for a week and we kept having problems with his vital sign monitors. I found out this is a very common issue in medicine and almost considered commonplace, which I thought was really strange and unfortunate. I knew the technology I was involved with could remotely measure vitals and realized it would be very helpful for this application. Then when my second child was born and had the exact same problem in the NICU, I got a really passionate about applying this technology to medicine. When we moved to Bethesda for my wife’s residency I left NASA and had the freedom to pursue this startup and technology.
A: What problem are you working to solve with your company, V-Sense?
J: Understaffing is a huge problem in nursing homes across the US. Due to this nurses and staff can’t measure vital signs on schedule and as often as needed. This results in missing a lot of important information on patients that could improve quality of care and save money. We’re automating this time-consuming task which is a win for everyone. As we expand into consumer homes we can provide the same service to millions more people.
A: If you could only pick one thing to validate your reason for forming a startup, what would it be? In other words, what would be the single biggest indicator to you that you are doing the right thing?
J: I’m really excited about the day I get a call from our first customer that says we saved someone’s life because of our device.
A: How do you think success can change your industry?
J: For five years at the JPL I would hear from my wife, who was in medical school, how some techniques doctors use are brand new and others are two thousand years old. We often have a big gap between techniques doctors are using and what modern technology can do. I’m interested in bringing more advanced technology to medicine via the rapid innovation possible in a startup. There’s a lot of great technology sitting in research labs throughout the country but no one is having the light bulb moment to apply it. I want to see more innovative medical technology coming out of space technology research.
A: How is your team uniquely able to tackle this? What’s the expertise?
J: I spent two years working with the team that invented this technology, mostly looking at how to apply it clinically. So I’ve been working with this technology and its users for years. My CTO, Hector, spent over a decade at JPL working on tons of radar technologies and applications. After that, he did a lot of product consulting and is perfectly positioned to bring this technology out to the world. Plus, we still have access to JPL and the tremendous minds working there.
A: Any big lessons learned transitioning from research to startup entrepreneurship?
J: The power of going out and directly talking to your customers. It’s not really clear who our customer is with research since we don’t know if our technology will reach the outside world. In business we can go out and ask the user to design it with us and how to make it as useful as possible for them.
A: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve encountered so far?
J: The medical community is fairly conservative, for understandable reasons. It can be a challenge to communicate possibilities of radar technology since they aren’t trained to know its nuances and applications. We have to communicate in a collaborative manner to explain the potential and value of this new way of doing what they already do. Having a wife who’s a physician has been really helpful since I can interact with and learn from so many different physicians.
A: What are the big goals and milestones you’re looking to hit in the short term? Long term?
J: Raising another round of funding that allows us to get to market in the nursing home space. Once we do that we’ll be reaching a sufficient install base so that the data gathered can be used to predict medical events for nursing home patients. From there we’re releasing a consumer product for the home that does the same thing.
Get in touch with Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org