Countdown to Celebrate 2015: Sonavex

At this point, Celebrate 2015 is two weeks away. I have been honored to speak with several founders and get plenty of feedback on my posts. I have recorded many interviews that I plan to upload to the site when storage permits.

Until then, here is a rundown of my conversation with David Narrow. He is the CEO of Sonavex

The Product

Dr. Devin O'Brien Coon developed the idea based upon his reoccurring problems with clot formation during his surgical career. He and David Narrow came up with the idea to mark the at-risk surgical with a tissue indicator to make the ongoing care of the patient simpler and cheaper for hospitals.

Sonavex uses a common polymer as its tissue marker. The tissue marker is placed at the site of the vascular connection to make it possible for the ultrasound technician to find and collect information about a possible clot.

The magical secret sauce is in the software algorithms. The mathematical formula runs blood flow calculations based upon the images collected to help catch the possible formation of clots before the sugery fails. It is these anastomtic failures that result in major costs for hospitals. 

David told me that Sonavex has filed for patent protection for the technology.

The Team

Dr. Devin O'Brien Coon is a surgeon at Johns Hopkins. He is well published and reviews for other medical journals. He has also received multiple awards for his talent in plastic surgery. Dr. O'Brien Coon is the President and Chairman of Sonavex. He is the technical brains behind the practical application of the product.

David Narrow is the CEO. This is not his first start up. He also founded MonoMono Cycling. MonoMono offers a detachable and adjustable cycling control system that allows for steering, breaking, and overall control of the bike for those who have disabilities resulting from stroke and amputation.  It was a class project to which Johns Hopkins chose not to retain the rights.  

MonoMono is still taking orders and selling product. David said most of his time is spent with Sonavex. 

Xin (Ben) Kang is the Director of R & D. He is an accomplished scientist and software developer. He has spent time in the Washington DC health care system working with leading researchers. Xin is the product development brains.

According to his LinkedIn profile and September 14 press release, he was recently added to the team. His product development skills will definitely be an asset to help the idea and company grow. David said that finding Ben after an extensive search was a real score for Sonavex. David said this is a very specialized skill set and pulling Ben away from Siemens was fantastic. 

Accelerators, Incubators, and Advisors

Sonavex comes from Johns Hopkins University's FastForward accelerator. There are several buildings and locations. You can read about all the options and apply HERE

FastForward is a part of Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures. THIS website provides details on how students can start a venture or license a technology and tap into the resources of the university. THIS page shows the portfolio. 

Dr. Jerry Prince and Dr. Emad Boctor are also founders and technical advisors for Sonavex. Each is well published and proficient in imaging technologies and computer sciences. Additionally, David said these men have their own ideas with FDA approval. Having Dr. Prince and Dr. Boctor as advisors has helped Sonavex in the growth and networking process, according to David.


Sonavex has gained plenty traction and funding as a result of the association with Johns Hopkins. On September 14, Sonavex announced it had raised seed funding. Read the release HERE. Combined with the other grants and awards received so far, Sonavex has over $1 million in funding.With the backing of a major academic institution like Johns Hopkins, this is most likely just the beginning. 

On THIS page, you can also see other investors. The money in play here is no joke. Sonavex has some serious cash behind it along with plenty of smart people to make it happen. 

Sonavex will also be presenting at the AdvaMed Conference in San Diego as one of 48 emerging medical technology companies selected. This conference runs concurrently with Celebrate 2015. The team has chosen to present at AdvaMed for the networking and investment opportunities.  Given that platform, I can't blame them for not coming to Celebrate 2015. 

Closing Thoughts

Sonavex is backed by powerful and smart people with lots and lots of money. It has won multiple awards and grants. It has the potential to return plenty of value to investors. Since there are over 550,000 anastomosis operations performed each year, and in up to 15% of those cases non-preventable blot clots form, there is a huge market for this product. 

Hospitals spend $55,000 each time there a failure from a blood clot to solve the problem. That means hospitals spend A LOT of money nationally fixing the implications of these blood clots. David said their idea can reduce the number of catastrophic failures and dramatically cut costs. In a world-wide billion dollar market, this idea is a real winner.

The real value here is the patented algorithm. David said the tissue marker is  made of a commonly found product. Like everything else, the math that goes into the algorithm is where it is at.