The KNOX Team’s Journey

KNOX Team: Charvi (left), Huyson (middle), Inderjit (right).

Our team has accomplished the following with $200K and 3 members:

2013, 1 part-time member: 100+ customer interviews: 2 months. $0.

2014, 1 full-time, 2 part-time members: Built a functional prototype: 6 months, $5000.

2015, 2 full-time, 1 part-time:

  1. Completed a 66 subject study at UCSF to validate the functional prototype: 1 year, $60,000.

2. Wrote a National Science Foundation Award application (12% acceptance rate) and got it on the 2nd attempt: 1 month, won $225,000.

2016, 3 full-time:

  1. Going from functional prototype to something that people would actually use: 4 months, $100,000.

2. Testing Aeris with 8 families at home for a week: 2 months, $1000.

3. Gain 4000 subscribers on our newsletter nearly a year before launch: 6 weeks, $1000.

4. Getting a product ready for FDA submission: 8 months, $100,000.

Progression of Aeris over time.

We have access to great mentors.

When we need help, we seek it out from our mentors and advisors. In our first year, we worked in the basement of Sutardja Dai Hall in UC Berkeley to create our functional prototypes. When we ran into hardware issues, Chris and Mark at the Invention Lab helped us. Fellow Foundry@CITRIS engineers guided us as well. When we ran into business strategy issues, we reached out to Allan, Patrick and Gwen.

Happily working away in the basement with some artificial lights so we have no notion of day or night.

We’re grateful for the people who believe in us.

In our second year, our UCSF partners believed in us so much that they fought for us to be the first ever startup outside UCSF to receive a $60K grant, of which $15K went to our team (remainder used to run the study). So, we delivered our prototypes for 66 kids to test at the Children’s Hospital. It took us a while to get to this point, because we were constrained by our budget. Our hardware lead, was part-time and in Georgia.

Towards the end of 2015, Ryan from IndieBio recognized our team’s persistence and after a 30 minute interview, his team invested $250K. I shifted roles from engineering, to business, then moved onto design. Inderjit and Huyson switched between hardware and software, and then to industrial design and UI/UX. We were under the guidance of Arvind, former Design Director at IDEO, and Krissa, a UI/UX expert. We gained a designer, Erik, who works with us pro-bono on his nights and weekends to really bring the product to life. All our fancy videos, pictures and sexy prototype are of his work.

We grew our newsletter subscriber list from 23 to 4000 in 6 weeks. It took 2 people: me and my summer intern, Bella. She’s a freshman going into her sophomore year in college, so she’s as new to this as we are. We cold-called/emailed news reporters, bloggers, and writers. They responded because they loved our work. We were featured in ABC News and Huffington Post shortly after.

Placing Aeris into the hands of 8 year old Finn.

Our greatest progress has all been accomplished in the past 4 months at IndieBio, with $200K and the first time all 3 KNOX members worked together in the same room. We also just added a mechanical engineer to our team last month.

We’re a capable team and our strength lies in the recognition of our limitations. When the time comes to bring in expertise to move faster, we’ll welcome it. With your help, we can bring our product into the hands of asthmatics in need.

We look forward to working with you.


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