March 27, 2014
What do you get when you add together two hard-working students, one of the best universities in the country, and an incredibly efficient entrepreneurial education platform at said university? The short answer is: Sparo Labs.
Founded by Washington University students Andrew Brimer and Abigail Cohen, Sparo Labs focuses their efforts on the healthcare world, specifically toward people with asthma and other respiratory diseases. It all began during their junior year at Wash U when Brimer and Cohen were part of an extra-curricular design team that operated similarly to engineers without borders.
Through their work they diagnosed a major need in the healthcare market space for a consumer device that can help people with respiratory diseases. True, there is the medical gold standard spirometer, but people only have access to this technology a few times a year at their hospital or doctor’s office.
“There’s also the peak flow meter which is ugly, clunky, and relatively inaccurate with a 20 percent error rating,” says Brimer. “Asthma varies on a day to day basis, and the only other tool that most asthmatics have at their disposal is to journal their symptoms.”
What the Wash U duo was able to do, then, was combine the peak flow and spirometer to essentially conquer some of those barriers while drastically reducing cost. Their solution uses a microphone as the main sensor implanted in a device about the size of a whistle that plugs directly into your smartphone.
As you blow air into the device it accurately tracks all of your data over time. And since it interacts with your smartphone it can build off of environmental data like temperature, humidity, and pollen count – all the factors that mess with respiratory issues in one way or another.
Possibly the best part about their solution isn’t the fact that it might help people breathe easier, both literally and figuratively. Rather, during the first week of May in New York City Sparo Labs will showcase their product at a summit at the United Nations Floor.
The Cavendish Global Health Impact Forum, sponsored by Cavendish Global, will be bringing together about 150 different offices from around the world to listen to companies like Sparo Labs pitch their ideas. Both family investment offices and heavy hitters in the healthcare space will be attending and looking for philanthropy or grant investing opportunities.
Brimer and Cohen are priming on all levels, because the director of the World Health Organization will also be there. However, they’ll be setting their sights on family investors and building relationships with them to start.
“The investors see this opportunity as a way to avoid the traditional one-and-done VC investment,” says Brimer. “They’re looking to tailor a partnership towards making an impact with their money over a ROI.”
Brimer and Cohen are just 2 examples of a trend we’re seeing pick up major steam across America. This is what happens when you expose young students to the fact that they can establish a viable, entrepreneurial career track directly out of college, and I’m dying to see what they make of their opportunity.
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