Our current primary focus is a high-tech sock, the Medusa, that is essentially a condensed motion capture laboratory comprised of a wearable hardware device and a software platform a...
Our current primary focus is a high-tech sock, the Medusa, that is essentially a condensed motion capture laboratory comprised of a wearable hardware device and a software platform accessible on computers, iPhones, and tablets. The first iteration of the Medusa, the Co-contraction Medusa, solves a problem presented to us by a world-renowned neurologist at the Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Hubert Fernandez.
Dr. Fernandez expressed his dissatisfaction and pain points with the current method of monitoring and tracking lower limb co-contraction (muscle co-activation) timing and associated gait characteristics that increase a patient’s fall risk (definitions and more detail available in our PowerPoint, slides 10-11). Current methods are either subjective, do not smoothly integrate into the fast-paced neurologist work schedule, contain too many exposed wires, or simply do not output and track objective metrics effectively.
The Co-Contraction Medusa has been designed for seamless in-clinic integration. We currently have seven development interns working for us and we plan to validate our designs and progress with our network of neurologist throughout the development process to ensure a product-market fit.
We realize a company cannot be built off of one product and plan to utilize the modularity of our device to scale to related target markets (slide 23 in our PowerPoint) once our initial beachhead has been overtaken. The Co-Contraction Medusa penetrates a relatively small niche market, but is a strategic move to enter a market open to new technology, prove the value of our device, and expand.
(PowerPoint available upon request)
I have known both Hobey and Tanya for several years now, and only have the highest admiration for their drive, work ethic, knowledge and experience. They have strong educational backgrounds, but are constantly striving to expand their knowledge in all fields. They are honest and dependable, and some of the most focused, dedicated people I know. I highly recommend them, and guarantee you will not be disappointed if you work with them.
I made Tanya’s acquaintance during the latter part of her undergraduate studies. As Department Head of Engineering Management, I gained an upfront and personal view of Tanya’s professional transformation during her graduate studies. Her goals guided her actions and environment, both personally and professionally. Tanya’s desire to utilize her academic and professional experiences to improve an individual’s quality of life has always impressed me. Rather than taking a well-worn path through an established organization, she and Hobey continue to blaze a trail towards a successful entrepreneurial venture in the biomedical space. I truly believe they possess the technical skills and business acumen needed for the long run. As such, without any reservation, I recommend Dr. Hobey Tam and Ms. Tanya Colonna.
I'm excited about BlackTop Labs efforts to create wearable technology that will improve monitoring and tracking of lower limb co-contraction timing and associated gait characteristics. I met with Ms. Colonna, the CEO, recently to discuss her efforts at building a company and found her especially inquisitive and curious related to my field of expertise in helping small companies create sustainable processes for innovation management. I believe that the dedication, energy and passion that her and her colleagues bring to their endeavor will serve them and their investors well.
Hobey is very impressive and clearly surrounds himself with an equally capable team. He is very focused on balancing the long term goals of a project with the short term critical milestones to ensure success of the program. It's a pleasure working with him on market impacting solutions.
As the founder of greenlight.guru, I got introduced to Tanya and BlackTop Labs a few months ago. When I spoke with Tanya, her passion and drive were contagious. Over the past 18 years, I have worked with numerous medical device startups. However, few have demonstrated the attitude, demeanor, and maturity I have observed from Tanya.
I first met Tanya in 2007 when she was a pole-vaulter for the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology track and field program. There she was able to balance a vigorous class workload and track schedule to become a 6 time HCAC indoor and outdoor track women’s pole vault champion. She has proven that her ability to perform in the classroom was top notch as well with her many opportunities that she has experienced. It takes a dedicated and passionate person to be able to succeed as highly as she has in both areas. I have followed one of her projects with a team of students here at Rose-Hulman and I am very impressed how hard Tanya is working to introduce new and exciting innovation to the medical field. Through my interactions with Tanya, I know she has the passion and relentless determination to succeed.
Tanya and her team would greatly benefit from the resources that your accelerator program could offer, and I give her my highest recommendation.
I have known Hobey for many years as a student and fellow entrepreneur. His passion for innovation and "go-getter" attitude has poised him for success. Having done extensive research in the gait rehabilitation and data tracking space, I will agree that there is an unmet medical need that I believe Medusa can address. Having been through a startup accelerator myself, I know how useful they can be, and believe that Hobey and his team will thrive if selected to participate.
My company has worked closely with Hobey over the last year and a half on an IoT software project, and I have always been impressed with his abilities as a project manager, and technical leader. The project we worked on together was technically complex, and required a great deal of coordination between teams of various specialists. Whether is was design of the IoT device prototype with the hardware vendor, building virtual simulators for the device, working on code, QA testing, or planning infrastructure setup, Hobey was always able to get all those moving pieces to align. Those who have been involved in projects like that know it's no easy feat.
Hobey is a pleasure to work with, and I highly recommend him.
I know Hobey through the University Innovation Fellows program. He has a no-holds barred approach to solving a problem. He'll go to lengths unseen to understand the user, asks deep questions and fully comprehend the problem people face. Black Top Labs is solving a really critical problem of patient outcomes for the hospital system and I wholeheartedly believe Dr. Tam and his team will help solve this problem.
Dr. Hobey Tam has been involved in the SCBio community of entrepreneurs for several years. In the early years he volunteered at our statewide life sciences conferences, and spoke and pitched at several more recently. He and his group are doing good and necessary work to improve patient outcomes. In medicine, that is the first and most important goal. I am proud of what they are doing at Blacktop labs and commend them on their progress with Medusa.
I have known Dr. Hobey Tam for the past four and half years. I have closely followed his development as an independent scientist in the cardiovascular engineering and regenerative medicine fields. I have been mentoring faculty and students for last 20 years and directing a tissue regeneration center for last eight years at Clemson. I can definitely say he is one of the top 1% mentees I mentored in terms of his scientific curiosity coupled with his ability to find practical solutions to the problem at hand. He has a strong business mind and always thinks of practical solutions. His innovative ideas led to the filing of a patent for novel crosslinking chemistry for stabilizing bioprosthetic heart valves. Hobey is also a very passionate teacher. He has mentored 3 undergraduate researchers in my laboratory and they praise his leadership.
Naren Vyavahare, Hunter Endowed Chair and Professor of Bioengineering, Clemson University
I have had the pleasure of knowing Tanya and Hobey since they first arrived at Rose-Hulman nearly 10 years ago. They have certainly received a world-class education, but what separates them from most are the things that can’t be taught at college. I have been extremely impressed as the two of them immersed themselves in their endeavors both in, and beyond, the classroom. Their determination, work-ethic, ability to engage their peers and faculty, and unwillingness to settle for anything short of their goals are going to continue to serve them well throughout their careers. I have been particularly impressed with how well they work with each other, as well as others that are engaged in their projects. If included in your next accelerator cohort, I’m absolutely confident they will exceed expectations; they’ve been doing that for as long as I have known them. I give them my highest recommendation.
Erik Z. Hayes
VP for Student Affairs & Dean of Students
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
I am writing to very strongly recommend Tanya Colonna and Hobey Tam and their promising entrepreneurial efforts. Like other Rose-Hulman (ranked #1 for engineering-US News) graduates, they have the "right stuff" for successful innovation. Tanya has a wonderful pleasant, cooperative manner, but she also has strong passions for learning and innovation and extreme determination that will propel her success and inspire others. The business is focused on a huge and growing market that badly needs data for patients using exercise to battle Parkinson's and physicians trying to understand it. Thus, there are significant quick and follow-on opportunities.
I met Tanya while she lived in Boston in 2014 and have observed her transition from corporate to startup life. Through our interactions, it has been made evident that she is passionate, authentic, and believes in what she works towards.
She and her business partner are strategic business developers who utilize their holistic viewpoints, advisor inputs, and global perspectives in a quick and proactive decision making process. Last February, they were advised to focus their value proposition. By May, they had a clearly defined niche market, strategy to scale, an expanded advisory network, and had hired 7 interns to execute their product vision.
Through my personal network, I know former advisors and participants of Startup Bootcamp. I believe this environment will allow them to validate their ideas and access growth opportunities, catalyzing BlackTop Lab’s pathway to market. I highly recommend this team for your next accelerator class.
CEO & Founder
I have known Tanya since 2013 when I started teaching. Tanya stood out from other talented students because of her leadership potential and grit. She is resilient, resourceful, has integrity, and possesses an incredibly wonderful personality that enables her to communicate easily with everyone. Tanya has sacrificed many things in life to fulfill her dream of becoming an entrepreneur, and she has fearlessly pursued her passions. I have no doubt that any project that she is involved with will become a success because of her great management and leadership skills. Tanya and Hobey have been very creative in finding ways to advance their product development process. They have hired several engineering students for a summer internship program to help with product development process and they have also obtained assistance from experienced entrepreneurs. They would greatly benefit from the resources that your accelerator program could offer them, and I give them my highest recommendation.
Hobey and Tanya possess two key attributes of successful entrepreneurs – passion for what they are creating and an unrelenting drive to succeed. I have been working with them as a member of an experienced mentor team since September of 2016. They have managed to significantly advance their product design in a highly cost-effective manner utilizing undergraduate engineering student interns. This demonstrates both financial acuity and excellent project management skills. Recently they have made numerous significant connections with key opinion leaders in the application area for their device through a dogged determination in the key skill area of networking.
I highly recommend Blacktop Labs for your next accelerator class. They will benefit greatly from the infrastructure, resources and connections you offer as they take the next steps in commercializing a system that has the potential to improve patient outcomes while containing costs.
I have known Hobey and Tanya for a couple of years as they have started BlackTop Labs. They are bright, hard-working, and driven to succeed and combine strong technical backgrounds with good people skills. This is not a common combination. They actively solicit feedback and listen, even when it is a difficult message. They have been very creative in developing their initial product in order to bootstrap their business. A good accelerator program would be extremely beneficial for them and their business. The interaction with other developing businesses and mentors would give them insight and knowledge to drive their business forward. I can highly recommend them for your accelerator.
I have had the pleasure of getting to know and work with Hobey and Tanya as part of a mentoring program sponsored by the Greenville Chamber as they have developed their business plan and execution strategy for BlackTop Labs. They are two extremely bright and focused young leaders with a tremendous amount of passion and energy. They have been very thorough and diligent in their analysis of the market and product options and have done a great job of working with their design team to modify the product to best fit the market. I have found both of them to be extremely coachable and appreciate the way the respond to suggestions and critique with grace and a desire to grow and learn. They would benefit tremendously from a focused, accelerator program where they would be surrounded by people with differing backgrounds and connections enabling them to validate and expand their ideas. I recommend both of them with complete confidence
The principals of BlackTop Labs, Tanya and Hobey, bring high energy passion to their entrepreneurial endeavors. To date, they have moved their company forward through efficient bootstrapping, such as engaging undergraduate engineering design teams to develop discrete portions of the end product. These efforts combined with the pair's tenacity to execute have put BlackTop Labs in a position for rapid growth under the right conditions. Infrastructure and entrepreneurial climate are key elements feeding the greatest startup regions of the world. Infrastructure and climate are exactly what BlackTop Labs needs for their next big leap in product commercialization to move toward market launch. A top accelerator program could provide these elements and help push this team to become a leader in healthcare diagnostics.
It is my sincerest compliment to recommend the team of BlackTop Labs for inclusion in your next accelerator cohort.
David E. Orr
VP, Strataca Systems