By Paul Blanton WG’14, Team Member for PhaseOptics
Team Leader: Frank Brodie MD’14/WG’14
Team Member: Grant Mitchell MD’14/WG’14
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.
Paul lived in Japan for the past five years where he learned to spear fish.
Frank worked at General Mills prior to medical school where he worked on developing new types of Fruit Rollups.
Grant is a professional rock skipper and holds a competition record of 42 skips.