SkyFounder Spotlight: Mack Gamahewage of SkyTeam ReThink Medical
This week’s spotlight is on SkyTeam ReThink Medical co-founder Mack Gamahewage. ReThink Medical produces a remote patient physiologic monitor for predicting heart failure related hospitalizations, enabling preventative interventions.
Q: What problem does your startup solve?
A: ReThink Medical solves the problem of managing heart failure. Heart failure is a chronic disease, it’s a slow progressing disease, and it’s really hard to manage. One, because there’s not good enough tools to manage heart failure, and the other is the symptoms appear very late in the stage of heart failure. So basically when patients know, it’s usually too late to have preventative measures and intervene. So usually, they end up being hospitalized. Due to the difficulty and complexity in managing heart failure, a lot of patients end up in the hospital and their quality of life decreases. However, studies have shown that 50% of these hospitalizations are preventable, so our goal is to reduce the unnecessary hospitalizations. We look at proven physiologic parameters that are indicative of worsening heart failure conditions, and we are able to predict the trends three weeks in advance.
Q: Has there been any obstacles that you didn’t expect?
A: Fundraising has taken longer than anticipated but that is usually something very common in this space. So in terms of obstacles I would rank that as our biggest hurdle so far since we are in the process as we speak. But most of the technical challenges in developing our technology is behind us thanks to Reza’s genius and perseverance – so we have a fully functioning prototype at this point.
Q: Why did you choose SkyDeck?
A: One of the biggest reasons I thought SkyDeck would be helpful was the network that they have, as well as the buzz and attention you get, being out there with other startups. I thought that SkyDeck would do a really great job, as well as having access to Berkeley resources, and the network of people.
Q: What gets you out of bed in the morning?
A: One of the biggest drivers for me is that I really want to affect change, very specifically in the healthcare space. And even more specifically, in chronic diseases. Both my parents had heart failure, so that itself is a lot of inspiration and motivation. At the same time, I come from humble beginnings, and for me to be here and to have this opportunity to pursue what I’m doing right now is never taken for granted, so I want to make sure that I’m in it and I want to give my 100%.
Q: How did your team meet?
A: Well, Reza had been working on physiologic monitoring for the past decade and he had begun working on this particular project 3 years ago. I joined last year to do some data analysis work for our first study at UCSF. I became very fascinated with the heart failure space and the solution that Reza was building so I continued working there and assumed more responsibilities to evolve into the role I have today. I met Vivek serendipitously on the BART during our commute to the East Bay when I was working at a previous job and we became good friends – he was more of a mentor to me. I mentioned about ReThink Medical to him during our regular coffees and he was curious to learn more and help in anyway he could. We found great synergy once the 3 of us started working together and Vivek helped us a lot during our very early days of fundraising with his expertise and experience. He later quit his full-time (high paying) job to join the founding team at ReThink Medical.