Soner Hacihaliloglu of PONS Digital

An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Soner Hacihaliloglu, the co-founder and CEO of PONS Digital, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of PONS Digital – what problem were you trying to solve and why?

PONS is an ML software that converts traditional ultrasound systems and devices into smart and AI-driven diagnostics and non-robotic navigation systems focusing on brain problems and neurosurgeries.
My brother and I (the co-founders) were raised by great parents. Our father comes from the Black Sea region of Turkey, a region known for its high blood pressure and brain bleeding risks.

In 2006, our father went to the doctor three times in order to examine his blood pressure and brain bleeding risk. The results were OK, but at that time, he also had some problems with headache and blood pressure. In 2007, while he was driving the car with my mother, an unexpected brain bleeding started and he had a bad traffic accident, killing him and a pedestrian at the same time. That was the tipping point that got us thinking and developing an early and mobile technology for the recognition of brain bleeding.

What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?

It is very difficult to create and develop a new technology in traditional industries like health care. We started working on the project with very limited resources, but the thought of the impact that PONS could have kept us going. Another big hurdle for health tech startups is of course the FDA and clinical trials process.

What does the future hold for PONS Digital?

Moving forward, we also would like to incorporate 3D transcranial ultrasound scans into our framework. Measurements such as straight sinus systolic flow velocity (FVsv), middle cerebral artery (MCA) pulsatility index (PIa), and diastolic flow velocity (FVd) can be extracted from transcranial ultrasound scans. We believe the incorporation of these additional clinical markers will improve the efficiency and efficacy of our technology moving forward. Finally, we are also interested in incorporating our AI-based portable ultrasound imaging technology in other application domains such as COVID-19 patient risk assessment or an intraoperative imaging tool for orthopedic procedures.

What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Jersey City?

Jersey City is becoming a place in which a lot of deep tech startups are coming up. The universities around the city, but also the strategic location that JC has, is creating a vibrant environment for tech startups.

What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Believe in what you are doing, no matter what people say, and do what you love the most.

 

For more exclusive interviews, see our full Profile of a Founder series

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