In the fall of my sophomore year, I co-founded an organization with two people that were much more qualified than me. Zishaan was an MD/PhD and Nick was finishing up his Master’s in Biomedical Engineering. I was an undergrad about to begin my first year in business school.
We met through a medical device startup called CentriCycle (CC). CC began as a project in a freshman engineering course at U of M – founders Carrie Yarina and Alex Thinath designed a manual centrifuge for point-of-care blood separation. After realizing its potential as a marketable product, they decided to continue developing the prototype and build a business. I joined CC during my first semester, CentriCycle’s third year. By the end of the year, Zishaan was working as Public Health division lead, Nick was Prototyping lead, and I was Business lead. Carrie and Alex both graduated that year, and Carrie began working on the company full-time, moving to Bangalore to live the true startup life.
To continue CC’s mission of creating affordable diagnostic technology for India, Zishaan, Nick, and I co-founded Rural Innovations in Medical Engineering (RIME). We missed all student org recruiting events, had no clue what we were building, and had no money. But despite this rough start, RIME would grow from a side project into the defining experience of my first two years of college.
We spent the first semester recruiting (pitching to friends of friends and entrepreneurship classes), and conducting as much of a needs assessment as we could from the opposite side of the world. By the end of it all, we decided on our device: a combination pulse-oximeter and bilirubinometer.
Throughout the second semester, we worked on our prototype, developed our pitch, presented at the National Undergrad Global Health Conference in Houston, were named semi-finalists in the optiMize Social Innovation Challenge, finalists in the SPH Innovation in Action Competition, and were sponsored by Innovate Blue. All of this led up to our India trip, a trip probably misplaced in our timeline but nevertheless critical for RIME’s sustainability. We have an alpha prototype and many unanswered questions. I am writing this from Secunderabad, a city in southern India. Tomorrow, Sud, Aditya, and I begin the first step of RIME’s month-long field study. Let the summer begin.