An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Nick Glattard (co-founder and CTO) of EnsoData, which was honored in our:
- 2022 Best Tech Startups in Madison
- 2021 Best Tech Startups in Wisconsin
- 2021 Best Tech Startups in Madison
Tell us the origin story of EnsoData – what problem were you trying to solve and why?
The year was 2015 and Chris, Sam, and I were finishing up graduate school with heads full of biomedical engineering, applied AI, and dreams of making a dent in the universe. We knew we wanted to start a company, but we had no idea what to work on, so we went into the field searching. We asked over 100 doctors at the University of Wisconsin-Madison hospital if they had any burning big data challenges and we got lucky. The president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) gave us a couple terabytes of sleep study data and challenged us to use AI to score sleep studies. The rest is history!
What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?
As a startup, we’ve had our fair share of challenges, but two examples immediately jump to mind. First, creating over 1,000 pages of documentation to achieve our first FDA clearance as three twenty-five year olds was certainly a noteworthy hurdle. And second, we also temporarily lost 75% of our production sleep study volume due to the pandemic while actively fundraising. Quick thinking and great team members helped us recover in both scenarios, and our grit is one of our team’s major strengths.
What does the future hold for EnsoData?
In the past 7 years, we’ve established ourselves as innovators and thought leaders at the intersection of AI and healthcare. We are one of the first few of a small number of companies that are actually using FDA-cleared AI technology in the diagnostic process at scale, so we have a lot of exciting opportunities for expansion both vertically in sleep, as well as horizontally into other specialties.
What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Madison?
Between the cutting-edge research being done at UW-Madison, Epic bringing in loads of talent, and the rise of Gener8or as a startup accelerator powerhouse, Madison’s tech startup scene has certainly been growing. In fact, EnsoData would likely not be here had we not been accepted into Gener8ors first gBETA class. We are also proud to have significant investments from multiple Madison angel investors and venture capital firms (HealthX, Venture Investors).
What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
- Know what you’re getting into – reach out to founders to hear about their experiences. Startups are certainly a roller coaster and not for the faint of heart
- Apply to go through an accelerator – they will teach you the basics of how to incorporate and fundraise and plug you in to a great network
- Your first employees will help define your culture and become the future leaders of your company – you’ll also spend a ridiculous amount of time with them. Make sure they are all rockstars