- Frank Brodie MD’14/WG’14 (team leader)
- Grant Mitchell MD’14/WG’14
- Paul Blanton WG’14
Diabetic Retinopathy remains one of the leading causes of vision loss in the United States despite significant advances in therapy. Current pharmaceuticals could prevent vision loss before it starts, but no practical screening tool exists to identify treatment candidates. Thus, many patients lose vision that could have been saved.
PhaseOptics technology solves this problem by offering a revolution in noninvasive ophthalmic imaging earlier and more safely than any current technology. Moreover, this test can be performed in the primary care setting, saving patients the time and expense of a visit to the ophthalmologist. This will provide drastic reduction in blindness for patients, and a new revenue stream for ophthalmologists who can remotely interpret the images. The PhaseOptics team notes that over 50% of diabetics do not get screened for treatable complications—a statistic that helped inspired the team to make screening more accessible. In fact, the team is so passionate about the accessibility and efficacy of their innovative technology that they each loaned their company money out of their own student loans.
And the Winner Is…
On May 5, 2014, PhaseOptics was voted the crowd favorite at the 2014 Wharton Business Plan Competition, winning the Michelson People’s Choice award. In addition to the $3000 prize for People’s Choice, PhaseOptics also took home Second Prize out of the “Great Eight” finalists in the Wharton Business Plan Competition. Second Prize does not garner prestige only; PhaseOptics also took home $15,000 cash $15,000 in-kind services.
The PhaseOptics team notes that both the money and the Wharton stamp of approval will be immediately beneficial in growing their company. They plan to use their cash prizes and in-kind service rewards, as well as the exposure from the 2014 Wharton Business Plan Competition to begin “official” fundraising efforts and spread awareness of the accessibility of their screening technology.
- David A. Cohen, PAR’14/PAR’16/PAR’17; CEO, Chief Investment Officer, and Co-Founder, Karlin Asset Management, Inc.
- Doug Given, MD, WG’93; Advisor, Bay City Capital.
- Marc Magliacano, W’96; Partner, Catterton Partners.
- Richard Perlman W’68; Founder and Executive Chairman, ExamWorks Group, Inc.
- Kathryn Stewart, WG’88/PAR’12/PAR’17; Managing Director, J. Moore Partners.
- Note: WG=MBA alum; W=Undergraduate Wharton alum; PAR=Penn parent
- Funniest Moments from the Wharton BPC [2014-05-28. Nadine Kavanaugh. Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship]
- Funnest Moments From the Wharton BPC [2014-05-13. Matthew Brodsky. Wharton Magazine]
- Slidejoy Wins Wharton Business Plan Competition Perlman Grand Prize with an App That Pays Users to See Ads on Their Smartphone Lock Screens [2014-05-05. News. Penn Wharton]
- Slidejoy Wins Wharton Business Plan Competition Perlman Grand Prize [2014-05-05. Nadine Kavanaugh. Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship]
- PhaseOptics, Wharton Business Plan Competition Finalist [2014-04-22. Nadine Kavanaugh. Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship]
- PhaseOptics, Wharton Business Plan Competition Finalist [2014-04-22. Nadine Kavanaugh. Wharton Entrepreneurship Blog] [Archive.org]
Answers provided by Paul Blanton WG’14, Team Member for PhaseOptics [Source]
- What’s new and exciting about your business?
- We’re excited to be part of a company that is developing a novel technology that can help so many people. Frank was already interested in eye care given his background in ophthalmology, but for Grant and me, it has been fascinating to learn what a huge problem diabetic eye disease is. With over 50% of diabetics not getting screened for these treatable complications, we are hopeful that PhaseOptics can help bring screening to those patients. Moreover, by reducing the number of visits to specialists, we’ll be able to help save the health system money and direct valuable resources to patients who really need it.
- How did you come up with this idea?
- Frank has been involved in the ophthalmology space before, and he worked with Dr. Schwartz previously on Maculens (WBPC 2013 2nd Place). Dr. Schwartz was one of the inventors of the Phase Variance technology and in his own words wanted to “Whartonize” it. Pretty quickly we realized how saturated the OCT device market is, so we explored how we could generate ongoing revenue streams instead of just single machine sales. A huge turning point was discovering how many patients with diabetes go un-screened each year—from there we became focused on how to best bring good eye care to those patients.
- What does it mean to you to one of the “Great Eight” finalists in the Wharton Business Plan Competition?
- It’s a huge honor to be selected to present as one of the “Great Eight.” It’s an amazing opportunity to pitch and receive feedback from some of the best investors out there. The WBPC draws an incredible audience in terms of VCs, angels, entrepreneurs and more—our team is very excited to meet with as many folks as possible to make connections and hopefully form partnerships. We’re preparing to start raising money ‘officially’ after the competition so this is a great way to get people familiar with our story and raise awareness of both the problem of diabetic eye screening and the PhaseOptics solution.
- If you win the Perlman Grand Prize ($30,000 prize, $10,000 in legal services, $5,000 in accounting/strategy services), what will you do with these resources?
- The money will be a huge help and a boost to our fundraising efforts. Even things as mundane as travel and printing costs add up quickly, and we’ve all loaned the company money (from our own student loans!) as we’ve gotten started. Having some actual cash in the company will be a huge help.