Future Cardia on StartEngine 2021
Although COVID-19 has captured the world’s attention over the past few years, heart disease is still the top cause of death in the United States. Heart attacks can occur without the sufferer even noticing, and individuals who survive one heart attack are often at risk of having another. Monitoring a recurring patient’s condition can make the difference between life and death.
Future Cardia is working to keep patients safe with long-term heart-monitoring implants. After a quick and easy insertion, the devices will be able to gather actionable data and predict heart failure ahead of time. We reached out to founder and CEO Jaeson Bang to learn how he met the team and the short- and long-term goals of the company.
Note: This interview was conducted over phone and email. It has been lightly edited for clarity and length.
In your own words, how would you describe Future Cardia?
We are developing a tiny, insertable cardiac monitor for a long-term monitoring solution. This is a $40 billion-a-year healthcare expenditure problem in the US due to a lack of viable monitoring solutions. The EU is facing a similarly sized problem.
What inspired you to take the leap and start this company?
I have been in the implantable cardiac devices industry for 18 years. These are complex and traumatic surgeries that are designed to save lives. After all the hard work by the patient and the medical staff, we are sending our patients home with no viable monitoring solution.
This is a huge problem right now because they are most vulnerable and in need of clinical support at home. So, I decided to work on a meaningful solution that will bring value to the patients and physicians.
Who is on your team and how did you come together?
Professor Frits Prinzen, PhD, is a friend and a trusted confidant. He is also a world-renowned expert in cardiac hemodynamics with an extensive track record of working on innovative and impactful devices for cardiology. We met many years ago when I was living in the Netherlands for a Silicon Valley-based startup.
Dimitrios Georgakopoulos, PhD, and I met over a decade ago, when we were working together at a famed startup, CVRx (funded by NEA and JNJ, recently went on to an initial public offering). During the past 15 years, he held the chief science officer position at a NASDAQ company and founded his own med tech company. We have been collaborating ever since.
Dr. Kevin Heist, MD, PhD, and I met when I was working at EBR Systems, a Silicon Valley-based heart failure device startup. Dr. Heist currently practices cardiology at Harvard Medical School. He was one of the first people that believed in me and the Future Cardia mission.
Dr. David Krause, MD, and I met in Memphis back in 2019. I had nothing but an idea at that time. He took me under his wing and has been guiding me since then. He is also one of the most sought-after heart failure trialists in the world, with many leadership positions in the cardiology and heart failure space. He is one of the few physicians that I know that still takes personal phone calls from patients.
Dr. Toshi Okabe, MD, and I met at Ohio State University when I was at EBR Systems. I took notice of his knowledge and thoughtfulness with his patients. He and I talked countless times as he shared his insights from clinical and patient perspectives.
Dr. Dan Burkhoff, MD, PhD, and I never met until recently, although I knew of him because of his publications and wildly successful exits. We were introduced by an incredible leader and mentor in the medtech space. Due to COVID-19, we Zoomed for almost a year before meeting in person. We have many commonalities in our passion for cardiology, science, and entrepreneurship that will ultimately benefit patients, physicians, and healthcare as a whole.
Anatoly Yavkolev, PhD, wrote an incredible paper on artificial intelligence (AI) and cardiology. I cold-called him, and we met in San Francisco. Lo and behold, he happens to be a Stanford PhD with a degree in electrical engineering and expertise in AI. Since 2019, he’s been helping and guiding us on the AI side of operations.
We also have three vice presidents (VPs) of engineering with more than 90 years of combined expertise in cardiac device development and manufacturing and a team of engineers and clinical experts working behind the scenes.
How is Future Cardia transforming the cardiac (heart failure) monitoring industry?
CardioMems (acquired for $455 million) by Abbott is the current gold standard in heart failure monitoring. This device requires a sensor implant inside the heart in a cardiac cath lab procedure. Although accurate, it suffers from complexity and low adoption.
Wearables, on the other hand, are ideal for short-term monitoring. However, they are not used as a long-term solution due to low accuracy, poor compliance, and limited data.
Future Cardia brings a full suite of solutions with electrocardiogram (ECG) and heart sound sensors with remote monitoring capability. This is a two-minute office procedure to insert a tiny device under the skin with no follow-up needed. We have a huge advantage because our device has a short regulatory process as well as existing insurance coverage.
What does the competitive landscape look like, and how do you differentiate?
CardioMems is the leader in this space with three other startups working on a similar device. However, they are five to seven years away from obtaining FDA approval.
Vital Connect is the leader in the external patch device approach for heart failure monitoring. This is an ideal device for short-term solutions, but for the long term, it is not used.
Sensible Medical is the leader in the wearable approach for heart failure monitoring. It has shown strong data in clinical settings for heart failure monitoring. However, it has not been able to gain adoption due to limited insurance coverage and high cost to patients.
How do you intend to use the money you raise this round to scale the business?
Our goal is to implant in the lab with a fully functional and patient-worthy device by the third quarter of 2022, then in heart patients in the fourth quarter of 2022, and to then obtain FDA clearance in mid-2023.
Past and current funding will allow for full device development and manufacturing for patient implants and also for the subsequent FDA clearance for commercialization in targeted regions.
What progress have you made since your last round in 2021?
Raising $4 million via Republic.co and from super angels gave us a huge boost.
Getting accepted to Stanford StartX and Y Combinator was big validation for us as well.
The goal of 2021 was to focus heavily on research and development (R&D) engineering to set the stage for implants in 2022. Although we made solid progress, we decided to continue the raise with the same terms. Our conclusion was that 12 months of R&D was not sufficient to increase the valuation, as our value comes from the implants in 2022.
As for the core team, we hired three VPs with a proven track record of success in implantable cardiac device development, with additional engineers and clinical experts working in the background.
The second patent on our wireless technology was filed, with a third patent (algorithm) on the way.
What do you want potential investors to know about you and/or your company?
The implantable bioelectric space is very different from consumer electronics. We bring value in three main milestones: lab implants, patient implants, and FDA clearance. It is common to see the valuation increase at each milestone. CardioMems, for example, was acquired for $455 million back in 2014 with limited human data and no FDA clearance. We are striving for that benchmark.
As you think about the business 5-10 years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like? Have you set any future goals for the company?
The line between medical devices and consumer technology is getting blurred as human-sensor convergence is becoming more common. For example, we have seen advancement in diabetic devices, in which the patient applies the device, monitors the blood glucose level, and administers the medication on his/her own. Something like this was not possible just a few years back. Even simple devices like ECG machines and blood pressure machines had to be prescribed, but now consumers are using them on their own.
Our immediate goal is to focus on heart failure with actionable and quantifiable data. And this data is extremely important, as we can expand to other areas of cardiology and respiratory.
And as the device becomes smaller and smaller, we plan to help asymptomatic patients as well as healthy consumers. We will ultimately go into cardiac predictions, cardiac performance, and human longevity for the general population.
We look forward to seeing where Jaeson and his team take the company. Future Cardia is currently raising on StartEngine.
About: Léa Bouhelier-Gautreau
Léa is passionate about impact investing and sustainability. Prior to KingsCrowd, she worked for Stanford’s accelerator, StartX, helping to select the most promising entrepreneurs. She also led the first award-winning study on the Malawian startup ecosystem. In her free-time, she volunteers to help entrepreneurs in Cameroon, Brazil and Colombia. Léa holds a degree in Anthropology from France and is currently enrolled in the UC Davis MBA program.