04 Mar 2021

Get to Know ThetaSense, a Business Track New Venture Competition Team


With the New Venture Competition (NVC) finale right around the corner (be sure to register and tune in March 30 at 6:00 pm), learn more about team ThetaSense, a software as a service startup aiming to empower clinicians to make better and faster diagnoses with Electroencephalograhpy (EEG). We asked team member Zachary Hermes (MD/MBA 2021) about the New Venture Competition journey.

Team members: Sara (Qi) Zhang (MD/MBA 2021), Veronica (Peitong) Chen, David Zhou (MBA 2020), Tanishq Bhalla (MBA 2022), Zachary Hermes (MD/MBA 2021)

What inspired you to start your company?

Zachary Hermes: The concept for ThetaSense emerged from frustrations as an inpatient and outpatient doctor. Too frequently I’ve found myself feeling limited in my ability to obtain useful information on brain function in patients with abnormal or dynamically changing neurologic findings. EEG is the optimal method for non-invasive, continuous monitoring of brain function and the only modality that can provide clinically-actionable information on the brain at the point-of-care. Yet, this key tool is often inaccessible.

There is a real scarcity of technologists available for setup, and of specialized neurologists for interpretation. Turnaround times are also often delayed because of time-intensive, manual review. As a result, we overuse costly and static imaging modalities like CT or MRI. The fundamental consequence is that evaluations are not performed, resulting in delays and missed opportunities for timely diagnosis and treatment.

This reality is only exacerbated in under-resourced healthcare systems in the US and worldwide. That’s our inspiration as we work to make it easier for doctors to detect seizures, and more broadly, augment their ability to interpret and identify EEG signals across neurological conditions.

How has the Rock Center helped with your entrepreneurial journey? Are there any other HBS resources you have been using?

ZH: The Rock Center was, and continues to be, critical in my entrepreneurial journey. The Rock Summer Fellowship provided the opportunity to continue nurturing the concept and allowed me to interview more than 20 neurologists, multiple hardware manufacturers, and engage with other companies in the broader ecosystem. It also refined and improved my approach to customer discovery.

How have you been preparing for the competition?

ZH: We’ve continued to refine our understanding of the problem and our key personas as participants in MIT’s I-Corps Program and PM102. We’re also beginning to develop our prototype/MVP in PM102. Beyond that, we’ve sought out opportunities to pitch and gain feedback on how we articulate the problem and solution, our transformative vision, and why we believe our team is the one to do it.

What part of the NVC journey has been the most helpful for your team?

ZH: It prompted us to revisit and reinvigorate our pitch and deck. It also served as a catalyst to dive deeply into our market definition and sizing.

How did you go about creating your competition pitch? Any advice for someone looking to create a pitch?

ZH: We spent a lot of time putting ourselves in the shoes of the customer: the neurologist. We thought critically about their pain points, how the process is today, what would make their life easiest, and tried to capture that into our pitch and story of why we started ThetaSense. Then we tried to put ourselves in the shoes of an investor, ​who would know very little about these pain points, and focused on questions like: Why now? Why is your team best positioned to tackle this problem? What is the market opportunity? Taking both perspectives has hopefully helped us create a deck that meticulously captures the problem while portraying it in a way that makes our business model clear.

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

ZH: Surround yourself with great people on your team. Entrepreneurship is a long journey and it's much more than just identifying a problem and creating a solution. So be prepared for a lot of ups and downs and make sure that the people around you are just as inspired to solving the problem you've identified.

Post a Comment

Comments must be on-topic and civil in tone (with no name calling or personal attacks). Any promotional language or urls will be removed immediately. Your comment may be edited for clarity and length.