pi Ventures-funded ten3T Health is creating a one-of-its-kind device in India, which can be placed on the patient’s chest to monitor ECG, pulse, blood oxygen, respiration and temperature in real-time.
Dr. Sudhir Borgohna is certainly no greenhorn in medical entrepreneurship. Armed with a MD in Medicine from St. Johns University and a management degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he first dabbled in this field when he founded Angstrom, a venture that uses calcium and phosphate to create structures identical to a human bone, with two other engineers. “These were essentially screws which could replace titanium during bone reconstructions,” he adds. While the venture was later acquired, he had a second go at entrepreneurship when he founded Triesta, a US-based company working in the field of human genome, which too, was acquired by HCG, a leading provider of cancer care.
Of course, now, this entrepreneur is already working on his third venture, although what should take precedence is the series of events which led to the formation of it. “My co-founder, Rahul Shingrani and I met at a Writer’s Workshop. We both were aspiring writers; while he had a bent for short stories, I was inclined to literary fiction,” he narrates. It was when both engaged in a conversation that they realised there’s a huge vacuum between medical services delivered to patients in an ICU and in the general ward, and the market is flooded with devices which claim to be healthcare-related but are far from delivering quality medical data. Hence, they founded ten3T Health in October 2014 with a larger vision of being a cardiac care monitoring system. The company has created a nine-centimetre triangular patch, a device named Cicer, which can be placed on the patient’s chest to monitor ECG, pulse, blood oxygen, respiration and temperature in real-time.
With a larger vision of being a cardiac care monitoring system, the company has created a nine-centimetre triangular patch, a device named Cicer, which can be placed on the patient’s chest to monitor ECG, pulse, blood oxygen, respiration and temperature in real-time
Breaking New Grounds
“Typically, in the history of medical devices, someone creates a product in the West and we, in India, ape it. But, we wanted to do this the other way around,” he opines. Cicer is effectively a one-of-its-kind in India, with ten3T effectively creating a market for such a device in the country.
The opportunity for this, in fact, is quite huge. For example, a patient in an ICU gets complete medical care with the right monitoring equipments in place, whereas once he/she is shifted to a ward, the device-related service is bare minimum. “It’s a 1-0 ratio. One has it all or has nothing. That’s where we want to fit in,” he notes. The founders want to create a mobile ICU, and place it in three models; one, where there’s an ICU ward but in the general ward, the facilities are at a bare minimum. This will be a step down model because we’ll be setting up a mobile ICU. Secondly, at places with 10 to 12 beds, with no monitoring systems and where an ICU has to be created from scratch. This will be a step-up model. Thirdly, a device which can be attached to a patient’s body once he/she is discharged, to continuously monitor their health. “In this case, the patient’s readings can be monitored and supervised remotely,” adds Dr. Borgohna.
Taking a Niche Approach to Growth
With being a first mover and a niche player also comes the challenge of educating customers about your product. And rightly so, among the key challenges the founders face is in creating a market fit. “Many of our customers (in clinics and hospitals) understand the technology but don’t know where it will fit. So, we invest a lot of time in conveying the value it will create for their patients,” he states. Moreover, technology by virtue of being technology, especially in the medical field, nurses and doctors especially working in hospitals are averse to it unless it’s a high-end device like CT scan or an MRI. “The technology has not permeated in hospitals in India. There are high-tech labs on one end and stethoscopes on the other. In between, there’s a huge vacuum,” he observes, further adding that if a device is created to fill that vacuum, the strategy is to ensure that the people using it find it comfortable and adapt to it quickly.
The Opportunity in Big Data
While Cicer, their trademark device was developed with the founders’ pooling in their own money, ten3T Health sought external funding in December 2016, when it raised an angel round for an undisclosed amount from pi Ventures, an early stage fund focused on investing on disruptive ideas leveraging machine learning, AI and IoT. The funds from this round, shares Dr. Borgohna, will be channelised towards creating a market fit, deploying the product and building analytics into the device. “This will allow us to get to a point where we need to scale. At that stage, we’ll seek further funding,” he adds lucidly.
Operating on a pay-per-use basis, the device is still being tested in small and large centres to identify where it fits best. That being said, Dr. Borgohna clearly states that the way forward for the company is to focus on three aspects; firstly, add sensors like blood pressure monitoring, build AI into the sensors, and build real-time analytics into the device. “So far, the world hasn’t had the ability to collect continuous, real-time data. We want to make that possible,” he voices, on a concluding note.
Snapshot: Ten3T Health
Founders: Dr. Sudhir Borgohna and Rahul Shingrani
Investors: Pi Ventures
Concept: A medical device which monitors ECG, pulse, blood oxygen, respiration and temperature in real-time.
Ten3T Health’s Market Fit Strategy
Operating on a pay-per-use basis, the device is still being tested in small and large centres to identify where it fits best. The company is currently following three approaches;
- A Step-Down Model: Placing the device where there’s an ICU ward but in the general ward, the facilities are at a bare minimum.
- A Step-Up Model: Placing the device at places with 10 to 12 beds, with no monitoring systems and where an ICU has to be created from scratch.
- A Mobile ICU Model: The device can be attached to a patient’s body once he/she is discharged, to continuously monitor their health.