Founder Friday

Cocoon Cam's Pavan Kumar, Siva Nattamai, and Rubi Sanchez

Welcome to Founder Friday, where we learn about the people behind the Highway1 startups.

Today we talk to the founders of Cocoon Cam: CTO Pavan Kumar, COO Siva Nattamai, and CEO Rubi Sanchez.

Tell us a little bit about your background.

I studied electrical engineering and computer science at Rutgers, and I’m a hacker at heart with experience in hardware, firmware, and mobile software garnered working at Tesla, Garmin, and Motorola. I’ve developed embedded software and hardware for consumer products, as well as system design for larger control systems.

I started out as an intern with the California Academy of Sciences and moved into information technologies and healthcare with the San Francisco Department of Public Health. After that, I moved on to North East Medical Services, where I led operations, marketing, and business development across ten health centers spanning three cities in the San Francisco Bay area.

I have a master’s in Computer Science from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and worked as a software engineer at Apple in Cupertino and NetApp Inc., in Bangalore, India. I’ve acquired a fair amount of applied technical experience in the fields of computer vision and machine learning, having published works in both areas.

Where did the idea for this business come from?

When I had my daughter Leena, I bought a video baby monitor, but couldn’t tell that she was breathing when she was sleeping. By interviewing 200 parents and caregivers through the National Science Foundation I-Corps program, we determined that many parents do not consider current camera options adequate and parents are not comfortable putting wearables on their babies. Wearable monitors were just being released, but like most parents, I didn’t want to expose Leena to radio and electronics. I was also concerned with skin irritation that might be caused by hard plastics.

How’d you get the company started?

I met Siva and worked with him for the first time during Startup Weekend: Makers in the Bay Area in July 2014. During that sleepless weekend, we completed customer validation interviews, identifying that there was a gap in the baby monitor market, and demonstrated that the technology could work. Pavan joined the team (and declined a job offer from Apple!) after meeting Siva at AngelHack.

We decided to enter MedHack SF in September 2014, developing a proof-of-concept consisting of hardware and software to process video and detect skin temperature. We were voted Most Practical Solution by 27 judges in the medical, investment, and entrepreneurship space.

How did you find out about Highway1?

The Cocoon Cam team was a part of the inaugural BuildUp Fellows Program in San Francisco, which is a 2-week intensive mentorship program for entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds. Christian Anderson, one of the founders of the BuildUp program, recommended that we apply to Highway1. She texted and called me, saying “You guys absolutely have to apply to Highway1, you’re at the perfect stage.”

What’s your biggest learning been thus far at Highway1?

For me it’s been the focus. The resource you have the absolute least of is time.

My biggest takeaway is that user research is extremely important.

What are your goals at Highway1?

Our number one priority is to finish our pilot program, which we just started recruiting parents to participate in on our website.

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