Sam Rusk of EnsoData

An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Sam Rusk, the co-founder and president of EnsoData, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of EnsoData – what problem were you trying to solve and why?

While studying at UW-Madison, we discovered our passion for machine learning and artificial intelligence. We wanted to combine these interests and work toward increasing patient access, improving patient outcomes, enhancing the patient-provider care experience, and advancing the state of knowledge and scientific methods for studying health and disease. As it turns out, we also loved working together and wanted to turn these passions into something tangible. Together, along with my co-founders Chris Fernandez and Nick Glattard, we founded EnsoData, the company using groundbreaking AI to simplify the process of analyzing the human body to diagnose health conditions, starting with sleep.

What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?

Anyone working at the intersection of technology, especially artificial intelligence, knows how hard it is to create technology without data. The power and ability of AI technology specifically is a function of how much data it is given, so the issue was a pressing one. In short, we had to find data.

Although it was challenging and took us on a road trip up the California coast, our Midwestern grit and dogged belief in EnsoData won the day. We were able to gather enough data to get the ball rolling. Our biggest advice to overcoming entrepreneurial hurdles: get creative.

What does the future hold for EnsoData?

It’s been a huge year for us, and we’re just getting started. Over 400 US clinics are using our technology to analyze sleep studies and diagnose more than 14,000 patients’ sleep disorders each month. We also closed $9 million in Series A funding, which was led by Venture Investors and Zetta Venture Partners.

EnsoData’s vision is to live in a world in which every patient has access to quality and affordable treatment. While our current focus is sleep apnea, our goal is to cross into other areas of healthcare by leveraging other waveform data. In the future, EnsoData may be the lowest cost, most scalable, and most widely available tool to look inside the body and understand individual health and disease.

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

Watch out, Silicon Valley! We’ve got an incredible startup scene AND cheese curds.

But really, we’re inspired by the growing number of entrepreneurs here in the Midwest that are taking some serious risks to innovate and make the world a better place.

What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

There are a few cornerstone startup mantras that still hold true for us today. “Make something people want”. “Do things that don’t scale”. “Talk to your users”. But above all, solve a problem you’re passionate about because it won’t be easy, and at the end of the day, find people you like to do it with. Your colleagues in a startup are more like family, so find the right ones for your team.


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