Peter Weisz wants his business to prevent a silent killer: blood pressure.
“If you say you’ve got high blood pressure … it only indicates high stiffness of your arteries,” Weisz said. “And high stiffness of arteries are a major risk of suffering from either a heart attack or a stroke.”
Weisz wants to monitor blood pressure not on the typical location of the wrist, but right behind the ear with a device that can be attached to the end of a pair of glasses. Through Bluetooth, the vitals data can be transferred to a phone.
Weisz’s company, PulseWave, is part of Fort Worth’s TechStars physical health accelerator cohort. The three-month program, launched this year, takes in 10 startups to develop and pitch their ideas to investors like venture capitalists, angel investors and foundations.
Weisz hopes to find investors and corporate partners while at TechStars. In the future, Weisz said Fort Worth might be a place to establish a national distribution center for the product.
The company, founded in Switzerland, is in the cohort to explore expanding into the U.S. market. Switzerland’s government is backing the product by providing research money, which is being conducted at Bern University of Applied Sciences.
The temple is ideal to monitor vitals, Weisz said. That’s thanks to auricularis posterior artery located behind the ear, which is more exposed, larger and where there’s no hair growth, Weisz said. There’s also two measurement points which can help validate data results. He wants the products to be small, discreet and noninvasive. The temple tips of glasses are supposed to help prevent glasses from falling down.
“Our device is supposed to do the same, and measure vital signs at the same moment,” Weisz said.
Weisz also founded an app and product called Find My Glasses with his company Foxsmart Systems, a company born when a friend of Weisz’s couldn’t find his glasses for more than an hour.
“I just thought to myself, ‘OK, is there nothing to find lost glasses?’ And there was nothing, so I invented it,” Weisz said.
Since starting that company four years ago, he has sold about 700,000 Find My Glasses. Later, he started thinking about other applications glasses could be paired with technology. When they spoke to clinicians and caretakers, they found out about the artery.
The device prototype will be finished in the next five months, Weisz estimates. During testing, he said they will test aspects of the product, such as how happy customers are with the discreteness of the product.
Kathleen Otto, CEO of the trade group Bio North Texas, said she’s seen different kinds of wearables that monitor biometrics, but none that are on glasses. There’s several factors a company like Weisz’s has to consider when developing their company, she said. It might have to be accepted by the Food and Drug Administration of another regulatory agency, and it has to be vetted and sold.
“It has to be sold to the purchasing agents at hospitals,” Otto said. “And he has to understand the reimbursement. If a doctor is going to prescribe this product, is there a reimbursement factor? Will insurance pay for it? The question was, and that’s, you know, sort of where the pain point is.”
Trey Bowles, managing director of TechStars physical health Fort Worth accelerator, said he sees potential in Weisz’s company, which is why he invested.
TechStars takes 6% common stock of the company and up to $100,000 in an optional convertible note along with mentorship and guidance on developing their company.
“There’s a market opportunity that’s going to grow in the biometric tracking space around eyeglasses,” Bowles said. “I completely buy that.”
He said the TechStars program is a good way to highlight Fort Worth as a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship, which is one of the city’s goals.
Being a part of Techstars provides companies like Weisz’s resources to develop in a short amount of time, he said. Time, mentorship and funding can go a long way for a startup, Bowles said.
“The enemy of a startup is time,” Bowles said. “The more time it takes you to raise money, the more time it takes you to develop sales and create some sort of financial sustainability, the more opportunities you have to fail.”
Seth Bodine is a business and economic development reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at email@example.com and follow on Twitter at @sbodine120.