Today's itinerary: startup success story; noisy operating rooms; other medical innovations and a couple of whiz kids
August 20, 2019
How a startup invents a market
The team at Genscape. Photo by Toni Bowers
What do the wheel, the airplane, and the underwire bra have in common? They were all inventions that arose from a need. Of course, the needs have changed in the digital world, but the innovations are still happening.
A need most people didn’t realize they had
The idea for the company Genscape arose in 1999 when two energy traders, Sean O’Leary and Sterling Lapinski, became frustrated at the lack of real-time, fundamental energy data needed to make market decisions. They decided to address the need themselves and invented a technology that could collect the necessary data and then distribute it to financial market players.
O’Leary, who had received his MBA from the University of Louisville, moved back to Louisville. Working with Lapinski many nights and weekends, the two established Genscape.
The pair, formed Genscape in Louisville, KY and essentially changed the way the world sees and reacts to the energy market. In building the business, they were pioneers on the forefront of new technology, such as the Internet of Things, big data, and machine learning.
In 2005, they sold their company to the well-known British corporation Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) for $140 million.
Headquarters still in Louisville
Annie Edwards, chief people officer at Genscape, says that while it has a dispersed footprint, the company’s strength comes from the fact that its roots and headquarters remain in entrepreneur-friendly Louisville. “We can easily find great talent for core functions such as finance, legal, tech operations, HR, and also have great access to more niche experts, including data scientists and software developers. The local collegiate and educational resources bring in a regular flow of phenomenal talent.”
Outside of what Louisville means for recruitment, the headquarters’ location offers a unique workspace equipped with the latest technology and resources that would be much more expensive in a larger metro area or coast city.
Edwards says that Genscape is always looking for software and data engineers to join the family in Louisville. You can check here if you’re in the market for a high-tech job in a great town.
First of all, we didn’t even know this was a thing.
CEO and one of the company’s founders, Alistair MacDonald, MD, is an anesthesiologist who has practiced for 20 years. Dr. MacDonald was inspired to create the CanaryBox as a result of an experience he had in the OR. When the patient began to deteriorate during the procedure, Dr. MacDonald had to shout above the music to draw attention to the situation.
MacDonald had also heard of another case in which a young and healthy patient suffered anoxic brain injury because the ventilator alarms couldn’t be heard over the music.
Couldn’t they just not listen to music? Annie Crimmins, a critical care nurse and the company’s COO, says that music is an integral element of surgery, with studies demonstrating that music reduces surgeons’ stress and helps them improve focus. Good to know.
Grant money for Alzheimer’s clinical trial
A Pittsburgh-based clinical stage neuroscience company, Cognition Therapeutics Inc., has been given a $3.3 million grant by the National Institute of Aging (NIA) to conduct a clinical trial on Elayta, a therapy that has shown promise in previous clinical studies to reduce concentrations of synaptic damage proteins in people with Alzheimer's disease.
The company plans to use the grant to conduct a clinical trial that employs quantitative electroencephalography (qEEG), or “brain mapping,” to measure synaptic activity changes in Alzheimer’s patients who’ve been treated with Elayta.
Philip Scheltens, professor of cognitive neurology at Amsterdam University Medical Centers and director of the Alzheimer Center Amsterdam in the Netherlands, will be conducting the study sometime in the second half of 2019.
Cognition Therapeutics president and CEO Kenneth Moch expressed the company’s appreciation for the NIA grant: “We are grateful to the NIA for their continued support in helping to advance our understanding—and the understanding of the entire health care community—of the potential that qEEG holds in the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease and the measurement of therapeutic impact."
Columbus prescription service delivers
Add prescriptions to the list of items available for fast, cost-effective delivery, thanks to Columbus, OH-based startup ScriptDrop, Inc. According to Columbus Business First, the service, which allows patients and pharmacists to order delivery at the touch of a button, is eyeing $11 million in revenues this year—more than three times its income during its first year in 2018—while almost quadrupling its workforce.
The service allows pharmacists to verify prescriptions and check insurance on the same screen and uses such delivery and ride-sharing services as Postmates and Lyft, whose drivers must pass background checks, to deliver prescriptions, reducing costs for pharmacies already delivering prescriptions and creating other efficiencies.
The system is already working in Albertsons supermarkets in 35 states, and the company has deals in the works to add its software to pharmacy systems in some 10,000 independent pharmacies around the country.
Next time you find yourself playing Fortnite (and that’s pretty much all the time, right?), give a little hat tip to Tim Sweeney. He’s the creator of Unreal Engine, the development platform that powers many of the most popular 3D and VR games. Including Fortnite.
Sweeney founded Potomac Computer Systems as a teenager in his parents’ home. That company became Epic Games, based in Cary, NC.
In 2012, Chinese tech giant Tencent acquired 40% of the business. And last October, Epic received a colossal $1.25 billion in funding from KKR, ICONIQ Capital, Smash Ventures, aXiomatic, Vulcan Capital, Kleiner Perkins, and Lightspeed Venture Partners.
And guess what? Epic Games was recently valued at $15 billion.
Nobody knows food delivery like a college student
Other than keggers, maybe the one thing college students think about most is food. So it stands to reason that the guys behind EatStreet, the largest independent food ordering service in the United States, were undergrads when they thought up the concept.
Seven years later, the University of Wisconsin-Madison grads (Matt Howard, now CEO, and Alex Wyler, now CTO), were recognized by Forbes on its 30 Under 30 Consumer Technology list. This year, EatStreet was recognized as one of the Best Startups in Madison by The Tech Tribune Staff. To make the latter list, all companies must be independent (un-acquired), privately owned, at most 10 years old, and have received at least one round of funding.
The company has raised over $37 million, launched in 250 markets, and now delivers to more than 1.7 million customers as it moves to dominate delivery in mid-level markets.
It's "Name That Flyover City"!
I'll take "tawdry trivia" for $200, Alex
The very first Wendy's restaurant opened in this city in 1969.
This city has one of the nation's largest concentrations of Art Deco architecture.
One of Ronald Reagan’s first jobs in the entertainment industry was calling baseball games for WHO radio in this city.
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