2023 Most Disruptive MBA Startups: Vital Audio, New York University (Stern)

Vital Audio Inc.

New York University, Stern School of Business

Industry: Digital Health

Founding Student Name(s): Divya Mehta (MBA ‘23, NYU Stern), Nyamitse-Calvin-Mahinda, Harsh Sonthalia

Brief Description of Solution: Our cutting-edge technology listens to a person’s voice and computes heart rate and other biometric data using advanced AI. Within seconds, clinicians can access patient vital information through a conventional phone call. Healthcare professionals can customize how they collect data, ensuring a tailored and efficient approach to patient monitoring. From on-demand patient-initiated calls to automated scheduled check-ins, our solution offers a personalized and hassle-free experience for both patients and clinicians, making healthcare monitoring more accessible and convenient than ever before.

Funding Dollars: $600K

What led you to launch this venture? The escalating costs of healthcare and the influence of external market forces served as the catalyst for launching our startup. Data shows that nearly one-third of emergency department admissions could be avoided with improved remote monitoring. Additionally, the financial burden on patients, ranging from $250 to $1,500 per emergency room visit, highlighted the urgent need for more affordable healthcare solutions. Coupled with the changing landscape of remote work and the industry’s push for value-based systems, we saw a unique opportunity. We envisioned a future where cutting-edge technology could significantly reduce healthcare costs while enhancing the quality of care. This mission became our driving force: to create a solution that not only eases the financial strain on the healthcare systems, but also saves lives by making healthcare more accessible and affordable. Our venture is rooted in the belief that healthcare should be a fundamental right, not a financial burden, and we are committed to pioneering this change for a healthier, more equitable future.

What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with venture? After winning the NYU Entrepreneurs Challenge, hosted by NYU Stern’s Berkley Center for Entrepreneurship, our team was handpicked from thousands of startups to join the prestigious Techstars LA network. This opportunity has been transformative, offering our startup a nurturing ecosystem that encompasses financial support, invaluable mentorship, abundant resources, and extensive networking opportunities. These benefits have propelled our growth trajectory, significantly enhancing our likelihood of long-term success.

What has been the most significant challenge you’ve faced in creating your company and how did you solve it? Funding opportunities. We have always been excited to address and solve a significant and more meaningful problem facing our communities and healthcare systems. However, with a novel technology, it required a significant amount of work to demonstrate viability and to shift skepticisms to opportunities. We have done that through product demos, non-dilutive funding, and a VC who took a chance on our cause. Today, we are on track for multiple Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) submissions totaling $6 million across the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Science Foundation (NSF).

How has your MBA program helped you further this startup venture? I was fortunate enough to be admitted into NYU Stern’s Andre Koo Technology and Entrepreneurship MBA cohort. The one-year MBA program’s focused curriculum, in the heart of New York City, provided the academic groundwork and practical experience crucial for my entrepreneurial journey. Equally valuable were my experienced classmates, who, despite juggling numerous commitments, remained an unwavering support system. In the midst of the NYU Entrepreneurs Challenge, some of my classmates offered invaluable feedback on our pitch deck, ultimately contributing to our victory on stage. Their dedication, even amidst busy schedules, demonstrated an unparalleled commitment to our shared success.

What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? How did he or she prove motivational to you? My shift from Big Tech to entrepreneurship was inspired by my father, Deepak Mehta, an immigrant engineer and entrepreneur. He imparted essential values like patience, resilience, and dedication vital for startup endeavors. I was fortunate enough to watch his small business flourish over 15 years, providing low power memory IP to a wide array of industries, including medical and defense. His success served as a profound reminder that anything is possible with the right direction and mindset. He continues to be our biggest cheerleader.

Which MBA class has been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it? At this stage of the journey, the tools provided to us in Product Management have been critical in testing hypotheses to narrow in on our target customer and overall value proposition. We have already replicated some design-thinking exercises to brainstorm potential use cases. The biggest lesson I’ve gained is that customer feedback is paramount in building a product.

Additionally, Tech Immersion was a course where we had the chance to hear about evolving challenges from industry professionals in New York City. The Chief Medical Information Officer of NYU Langone Health came to present to our MBA cohort about the challenges with digital healthcare products. He emphasized the fact that digital health platforms can have many different customers including the clinician, the patient, and eventually researchers. It needs to be easy to use on all sides. This remains a pillar in how we think about our product at Vital Audio.

What professor made a significant contribution to your plans and why? Our entrepreneurship professor, Jeremy Kagen, provided our small cohort with a comprehensive overview of key startup essentials, covering SAFE terms, vesting, market sizing methodologies, conversion rates, and effective pitch tactics. These condensed, yet thorough, lessons equipped me with essential tools for navigating the complexities of early-stage funding, strategic market analysis, customer behavior, and impactful investor presentations. This helped me develop the confidence I needed to join and build the startup.

How has your local startup ecosystem contributed to your venture’s development and success? We had an abundance of startup resources and support during our time at NYU Stern. While competing in the NYU Entrepreneurs Challenge, we were also supported by NYU’s Tech Venture Accelerator. Each week, our team attended sessions on various topics such as finance, accounting, and strategy. We were also equipped with mentors in various areas of the healthcare industry. Our Tech Venture Accelerator instructors also taught us the importance of robust objectives and key results, which we translated into our company Asana. This strategic approach empowered us to launch effectively, ensuring clear direction and transparency from the outset.

What is your long-term goal with your startup? Vital Audio aims to be the most trusted and accessible platform used in telehealth settings and doctor’s offices around the country. Non-invasive access to cardiovascular health will ensure timely interventions, consistent data, and personalized care plans. Our solution will empower healthcare professionals to deliver continuous, high-quality care beyond the hospital walls, ultimately improving patient outcomes and reducing healthcare costs.


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