Richa Krishna: Helping Hearts

By Elli Lahdesmaki and Sanjana Mishra

Senior Richa Krishna started dance when she was just four years old. But in her freshman year, she was devastated to find out her heart condition, Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), left her unable to continue her pre-professional ballet training. Richa had to stop intense physical training in order to reduce the risk of heart failure. When her heart rate gets too high, the frequency of arrhythmias (irregular heart rhythms) increases, which increases the risk of sudden death.

This experience inspired her to develop a product in order to help others with similar heart conditions to continue their passion. Her idea was to create a patch for people with HCM called Pulse Wearables. This patch counts an individual’s heartbeat silently and then warns the user with vibrations when their heartbeat rises irregularly or gets too high. Her vision of the company was to give people who are limited by their heart conditions peace of mind while they perform physical activities.

She pitched her idea at the 2017 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Launch, a selective summer program with around 70 participants. There she met Anna Pertl and William Barkoff, from Germany and New York, respectively. Richa is in charge of designing the product, while William handles the technology portion of the patch. From across the globe, Anna manages finance and sales.

“By establishing my team at [MIT] Launch and developing our product and business, I have come to recognize the incredible value that this product can have on those aside from myself, who have experiences that I can relate to,” Richa said.

Together the company has developed its third functional prototype and raised over $5,000 in funding from prizes and grants. In their weekly Skype meetings, the team discusses next steps for product development, prepare presentations for competitions and apply for grants.

“We have learned the importance of communication in being a global team, and a team in general,” Richa said.

This past October, the team came first place in the 2018 i.Invest National Entrepreneurship Competition. She and her team won $2000 for their idea.

In the new year, Richa and her team will continue to participate in competitions and look forward to moving onto the alpha phase of testing. During this process, the team will test key components of their product such as the adhesive, battery duration and material durability and flexibility. For alpha testing, the product is not tested on potential customers. After this phase, the company will begin to beta test their product on athletes with HCM.

Working with teammates who have a strong belief in the Pulse Wearables’ mission, Richa was able to take a major obstacle in her life and create her own solution.

“I looked at [creating Pulse Wearables] as an opportunity to dive deeper into my other interests and to create something out of [the experience] as opposed to getting stuck in the negativity,” Richa said.