SonoFAST is engineering a new, more comfortable way to experience ultrasounds. Having been a part of the Georgia Tech Startup Summer Program, a faculty-led student-focused pilot program for student teams to launch startups, the SonoFast team was able begin building their medical-device empire earlier this year. We were able to catch up with one of the founders, Stephanie Camstra, to give you the scoop on SonoFast and answer all of those questions you’ve been dying to ask.
Funding or bootstrapped:
SonoFAST has developed a novel pad to be used for medical ultrasound procedures. The SonoFAST pad incorporates innovative polymer technology allowing for optimal ultrasound image quality and residue free gliding across the patient’s skin. The single use pads are individually packaged to eliminate the risk of cross contamination. The SonoFAST pad provides superior comfort, cleanliness, and versatility over other coupling media, such as liquid ultrasound gel and stand off pads.
How’d you get the idea for it?
The concept of the SonoFAST pad began with hours of observation at Atlanta metropolitan hospitals. During the hospital visits, the team kept observing ultrasound probes covered in dry gel, the difficulty that doctors had in getting the gel out of the bottle, the time consuming steps of re-applying gel and cleaning the patient and the probe after the exam, and not to mention the patient’s complaints about the cold gel.
The team decided that there had to be something that could streamline the ultrasound exam process and make it more comfortable for the patient, thus SonoFAST was created.
Who are your customers and what do they get?
The SonoFAST pad targets three different customers – ultrasound users, hospital purchasing staff, and ultrasound patients. These customers benefit in different ways from the SonoFAST pad, but the benefits include a more efficient and comfortable ultrasound experience, while cutting down the overall cost of an ultrasound exam by eliminating other resources that are currently used.
The SonoFAST pad meets customer needs during an ultrasound exam with the following:
(1) Acoustic properties whose transmittance is the same or better than current options to allow for a bright, clear image
(2) A minimal friction surface to allow the probe to slide easily across a patient’s skin
(3) A surface that securely attaches to the probe to allow independency to the user
(4) A comfortable pad that is not cold to the touch or messy to increase patient satisfaction
Who are your competitors and how do you stand out?
Current and potential competitors include Parker Laboratories, BLUEMTECH, and Thixo-gel Ultrasound Spread. None of the competitors offer independency to the physician by adhering the pad to the probe. The competitors also require clean up after the exam to either remove the ultrasound gel or residue left behind on the patient and the ultrasound probe.
The SonoFAST team is open to licensing our product and using distributors to get our product to hospitals or selling directly to private clinics. The team will attend medical conferences to demo our product and provide samples to physicians and hospitals to gain exposure and interest. The team will also tap into parenting blogs to spread the word about the clean and comfortable alternative to ultrasound gel during OB/GYN ultrasound exams.
How does ATL weave into your story?
The SonoFAST team are all recent graduates from Georgia Tech and two of the team members came to Tech from Houston and Venezuela. Atlanta gave the team the home base to begin the project, as well as the connections that Atlanta and Tech provide to progress with the start up.
Do you use any tools & services to manage your day-to-day?
We use Google Calendars to organize our meetings and to stay on schedule with deadlines. We are also avid users of Whatsapp to ensure constant communication when we are apart.
How do you stay connected with your audience/customers?
The SonoFAST team has a website and video that shows the customers the SonoFAST pad, the design, and the company. Customers can sign up to receive newsletters on updates and the progress of the team.
How do you stay informed & on top of emerging trends?
Lots of reading! The team enjoys reading articles about different subjects – Flipboard is a great way to have different news sources in one place.
If you could have one mulligan (do-over) in the process of launching and running this startup what would it be?
To join up with a Materials Science Engineer during senior design. The SonoFAST pad turned out to be a lot more materials based than the mechanical and biomedical expertise that the team possesses. Having a materials person on the team from the get go would probably have accelerated the process.
What kind of mentor could you use the most right now?
The SonoFAST team could use a mentor that has expertise in medical device patents, as well as knowledge in the FDA clearance process.
Is there anything else you need (that money can’t buy)?
Spread the word! Let your ultrasound physician know that there is the SonoFAST pad in the works and that you want it in the future!