Sensassure's Sameer Dhar
Welcome to Founder Friday, where we learn about the people behind the Highway1 startups.
Today we talk to Sensassure co-founder and CEO Sameer Dhar.
Tell us a little bit about your background.
I graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Commerce in finance two years ago. I thought I wanted to be an investment banker, and worked at a bunch of different financial institutions including Morgan Stanley. When I got there, however, I realized it wasn’t the right fit for me. I wanted to be somewhere I could make a tangible impact on society. Two years ago, I didn’t know anything about tech, entrepreneurship, or the senior care space — I didn’t even know what “incontinence” meant!
Where did the idea for this business come from?
I was admitted to a program called Canada’s Next 36 where 36 recent graduates from across the country are placed into teams and given funding to start a tech venture. That was the genesis of Sensassure. We decided to focus on elder care, as we saw a huge emerging need, with an aging population and not a lot of innovation happening in the space. We talked to many different stakeholders: nursing staff at every level, geriatricians, long-term care home administrators and others, and they explained to us how incontinence and incontinence management is a major pain point. Nursing staff just don’t know when a resident has urinated, so they go around to check and change people every two hours. This means you’re either checking and changing unnecessarily, waking someone up in the middle of the night only to find out they’re dry, or you’re not checking and changing often enough, which can result in residents sitting in a soiled brief for hours on end, causing skin breakdown, pressure ulcers, and a host of other complications. The vision for Sensassure since the outset has been to empower nursing staff with the data they need so they can make the right decisions around incontinence care.
How did you find out about Highway1?
One of the mentors at The Next 36, Dan Debow, connected me with Highway1 last year. We built a relationship with the Highway1 staff over a period of 6-8 months, and we were getting a sort of informal coaching prior to applying to the Spring 2016 cohort.
What’s your biggest surprise or key learning been thus far at Highway1?
There’s something about being here in the Valley and being at Highway1 that we’ve never experienced before. It’s been tremendously motivating to be here, and we’ve learned a hell of a lot.
What are your goals at Highway1?
We were looking for support in our product development processes, help identifying and honing in on exactly what we need to be focusing on when, and a broad understanding of all the pieces it takes to get a hardware product to market, and I think we got that in spades at Highway1.