Nikhil Patel is the kind of founder investors love. He is a chimera who, before studying computer science at Yale, spent three years in high school worked as a research associate at the University of Central Florida. “I started working there before I could drive, and it was most embarrassing to be dropped off at the office by my mother,” he says with a laugh.
Patel also has a personal connection to the problem he is trying to solve, which is diagnosing and managing Alzheimer’s disease as early as possible. Seeing how his grandmother was losing ground to Alzheimer’s disease and understanding from an early age that early diagnosis and intervention can delay the onset of dementia, he focused his research on building Alzheimer’s-related automated diagnostics — which wasn’t easy. to do because a teenager. (He says he finally found a professor willing to publish his findings under the auspices of the lab after more than 100 others rejected him.)
Patel got a little distracted. After graduating from college, he logged time with a “few different hedge funds” and Goldman Sachs, where he worked on trading algorithms. But early last year, when another family member was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, he returned to his previous work and founded Craniometrixwhich today is a three-man operation with great ambitions.
To date, the team has raised $6 million in seed funding for a HIPAA compliant app that, according to Patel, can help identify Alzheimer’s — even years before symptoms appear — after just 10 minutes of playing on a cell phone. It is not purely a technical offer. Patel says the results are given to a “real doctor” affiliated with Craniometrix who “reviews, verifies, and signs the diagnosis” and returns them to a patient.
But the company’s backers — including Quiet Capital, Defy.vc, Olive Tree Capital, Rebel Fund, J Ventures, Cathexis Ventures and Y Combinator — are really betting on Patel and his bigger vision to create a one-stop, direct-to consumer telemedicine platform that not only aids in the early detection of Alzheimer’s, but also provides ongoing support to patients and their caregivers.
It’s a concept that Defy’s Neil Sequeira says easily rallied given his company’s interest in startups that use technology to improve legacy health businesses. (Defy’s other bets include a cloud-based lab management startup called Genemod and applicationa healthcare rental platform.)
But Sequeira suggests he could support whatever Patel has been working on. In fact, he says he met Patel through… another CEO whose stealth startup Defy funded and who, when asked about the smartest person he’s ever met, pointed to Patel.
Only time will tell if that savvy will support a big business successfully, but unsurprisingly, Patel already has a roadmap.
While Step One focuses on people concerned about developing Alzheimer’s disease, who want to screen themselves at home and will receive a doctor-reviewed diagnostic report from the company within 48 hours, Craniometrix expects to offer real-time doctor access to customers soon. they may still have questions and comments after receiving their report.
Craniometrix also plans to create bundled monthly plans that include timed screenings, access to live physician help, and other resources to address symptom management and health care provider support.
It’s a big market, says Patel. He claims that healthcare providers today spend $3,000 a year out of pocket on the types of services Craniometrix will eventually offer online. He also notes that while the direct-to-consumer market alone is a big opportunity, he’s already having “interesting conversations” with health plans about using tools like those Craniometrix is developing to reduce unnecessary patient visits.
Patel says, “Many of today’s visits can be easily served by a chat service or an offline communication service.”
Ultimately, Patel says, the idea is to eliminate the need to go to a medical office. But it’s also to “keep people going” when it comes to managing the disease.
Considering that Alzheimer’s disease currently affects 6 million Americans alone and those numbers are: grow fast as the overall population ages, the company could be one to watch. Stay tuned.