2018 Winner: Teen Entrepreneurs Develop Wearable Medical Device to Help People with Heart Conditions
Updated: Jan 15, 2019
Richa Krishna, 17, of Los Altos, CA along with her team members, William Barkoff, 16 of New York, NY and Anna Pertl, 17, of Munich, Germany are one of this year’s competitors in the i.Invest National Youth Business Competition. The team, who met at the 2017 MIT Launch Entrepreneurship Program, are the co-founders of Pulse Wearables, a startup company working to develop a potential life-saving wearable patch that will give people limited by heart conditions peace of mind. We spoke with Krishna to learn more about the business venture:
Tell us about your business/product.
The Pulse Wearables device is a non-invasive patch that is easy to use, inconspicuous and does not require any companion devices, such as smartphones to operate. For patients who have been diagnosed with a heart condition, our wearable technology will positively change the way they monitor their heart health. Pulse Wearables allows people who experience dangerous arrhythmias - 16 million people in the US alone - to live their lives to the fullest. The user inputs the heart rate levels recommended by their cardiologist through a mobile app. When their heart exceeds the maximum safe heart rate, the patch vibrates gently to notify them to adjust their activity levels to better suit their heart.
What inspired you to start Pulse Wearables?
Pulse Wearables was inspired by my personal need for a reliable and an inconspicuous device, which I could wear to keep my heart rate in check. I was a high-performing ballet dancer when I was diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), a heart condition in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick, causing the heart to have a dangerously high frequency of irregular heart rhythms, called arrhythmias, at high activity levels. Having HCM meant every time I was dancing and training, my heart rate could reach levels that caused dangerously irregular rhythms. Too many arrhythmias meant a high risk to my life, which led me to give up spots in prestigious performances, competitions, and training events. There were no devices available that allowed me to take more control of my activity, and that’s what inspired the need to create one. Additionally, my co-founder, William, has Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT), a heart condition also related to dangerously high heart rates that can lead to arrhythmias and therefore, understands this need as well.
How will Pulse Wearables impact the world?
1 in 500 people is diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, the heart condition that is the leading cause of sudden death today. People who have been diagnosed with this condition often have to put an end to active lifestyles because of the high risk of heart failure. Pulse Wearables is addressing this problem by putting the control in the hands of the user and in doing so, giving them peace of mind.
Our product will allow users who are more-active to increase their activity at a reasonable level to suit their personal ability, instead of abstaining out of fear and uncertainty. For users who are less-active, our product will allow them to be conscious of their restrictions when performing daily tasks that require physical exertion.
What are the next steps?
We currently have a grant from the MIT Launch entrepreneurship program (now called LaunchX) and a monetary award from the Diamond Challenge. We are additionally seeking $60,000 to roll out the initial 200 units for beta testing and initial sales. We plan to use various captive marketing channels such as Cardiomyopathy, sports, dance, and heart-specific health blogs to put our product in front of potential users. We plan to target HCM patients in the year 2019 and will expand to people with other forms of arrhythmias in 2020.
We are very excited and motivated to see the impact we can make with Pulse!