Startup Profile: Loop Medical Innovations
With COVID-19 pandemic changing the way the world operates, it’s no surprise that healthcare was the most common industry within this spring’s cohort of the Blackstone LaunchPad Fellowship.
Innovation within the healthcare industry is moving at an incredible pace. Many young entrepreneurs have either pivoted their business or identified problems as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically in the home, new medical devices are being created to ensure safe, remote monitoring.
Abhishek Dasgupta, UT Austin student and founder of Loop Medical Innovations, is one of three LaunchPad Fellows innovating in this space.
Loop Medical Innovations
Loop Medical Innovations is a medical device startup creating personal spirometers, or breathalyzers that can provide data about lung health, such as lung capacity, expiratory volume, or how hard you breathe out.
“Spirometry has been around a long time but it hasn’t gotten to the level of other devices like heart rate monitors on watches,” Abhishek Dasgupta explains. “You can find a lot about your heart, a lot about your blood pressure, and things like that. Spirometry hasn’t propagated as much because there are a lot of ways to introduce error during a test. That’s why they’ve been limited to in-person visits and require an appointment scheduled in advance.”
Through customer discovery, Abhishek learned that doctors – including physicians, pulmonologists, respiratory technicians, surgeons, allergists, and pediatricians – felt that monitoring their patients’ lung health was more difficult than it should be. At-home spirometers were unreliable, and doctors could only prescribe medication based on in-person testing.
“That’s why we designed our spirometer with a unique sensor built into the mouthpiece that detects and quantifies user error.”
How did you start Loop Medical Innovations?
The company started as a group senior design team project that Abhishek was working on with his co-founders, all biomedical engineers.
“During the final year in our major we were employed to find an unmet medical need in the world,” he says. “After [our project] ended, we latched onto that idea because lung health was becoming more and more important. People in general were paying more attention to their lung health…but there are no tools to serve that newfound awareness.”
They founded Loop to meet this need, initially planning to launch the product to be sold direct to consumers, like an Apple Watch or Fitbit. Through conversations with mentors, however, they realized the impact they could have if they packaged the device with asthma or COPD medication or through doctor’s after lung-related surgeries, to increase the level of care and connection between doctors and patients.
Despite this initial focus, Abhishek and his team are open to pivoting back to sell direct to consumers. “The greatest hesitation or reactions that come up when we introduce this are: does it prove that error minimization is valuable, and will physicians adopt the new technology? If getting physician’s approval is too complex or time consuming, our device is very easily convertible to becoming a consumer product… We’re agile in that we can pivot as a result of hesitation from physicians.”
Blackstone LaunchPad Fellowship & Next Steps
After the fellowship ends, Loop has plans for a clinical pilot during the summer with a pediatric facility in Dallas. In addition to receiving data about the devices efficacy, the team hopes the pilot can shed light on the best go-to-market strategy and pricing model. They’re focusing their efforts during the Fellowship to make sure they’re prepared for the pilot, both in terms of refining their hardware and software and connecting with mentors and peers in the medical industry.
“For us, the Fellowship seemed like a really cool engine for growth and that’s what it’s been. The way it’s connected us with different advisors and also some of the workshop programming they’ve hosted has triggered a lot of important conversations that allow us to grow into a more robust organization… We applied for the connections and financial support, but it’s grown into full on organizational support.”
Read more about the 50 Blackstone LaunchPad Fellows participating in this year’s cohort.