In our Senior Send-Off series, the Dingman Center celebrates the student founders who are part of the graduating class of Spring 2020. We are so pleased to have had the chance to get to know each of these talented entrepreneurs through our programs.
Co-founder & CEO – Dhruv Patel ’20, Bioengineering major
Co-founder & CTO – Christopher Look ’20, Bioengineering major
Lead Systems Engineer – David Boegner ’20, Bioengineering major
Lead Software Engineer – Megha Guggari ’20, Bioengineering major
Lead R&D Engineer – Anoop Patel ’20, Bioengineering major
The Synapto team is made up of five University of Maryland bioengineering majors who are using a portable EEG and machine learning to provide doctors with a more efficient tool to diagnose Alzheimer’s. Having worked on this idea since 2017, the team has achieved many milestones along the way, including a prize from NIH, second place at the 2018 Do Good Challenge, and third place at the 2019 Pitch Dingman Competition Finals. The Dingman Center has had numerous opportunities to watch these founders grow: Chris Look enrolled in our Terp Startup accelerator for a different idea, Senvision, as a freshman; David Boegner and Anoop Patel represented Synapto in the 2018 Terp Startup cohort; and Megha Guggari was part of the first cohort of Ladies First Founders. The Synapto team took home our Rudy Award for Social Entrepreneurs of the Year in 2019, and we are excited to see how these impressive founders continue to shine post-graduation.
What’s your plan after graduation?
Dhruv: Taking a gap year before medical school!
Chris: I will be going to Amazon as a software engineer.
David: I am accepted into grad school at UMD for a PhD in Bioengineering. I will be researching in the area of bio-optics, developing new biomedical devices to aid in detecting or improving abnormalities in human biology.
Megha: I will be working at PWC as a technology consultant in their healthcare division.
Anoop: I am excited to start as a full-time software engineer at a NYC health tech startup.
What’s something you’ll really miss about UMD?
Dhruv: The people, food, and vibrant atmosphere.
Chris: I’ll miss the community the most by far. The people around me have been amazingly supportive, from the students to the faculty. We have been encouraged from the start to create whatever we can and run with it, and been given incredible resources to do so.
David: I will miss being surrounded by people who are so relatable through our similar interests, experiences, activities, etc.
Megha: I will miss attending classes and studying with my peers!
Anoop: I’ll miss the convenience of having friends and resources in close proximity.
What’s your favorite memory from Terp Startup?
Chris: My favorite memory has to be from Senvision’s demo day, where, even though we said our business was a No-go, everyone was still supportive. They told us that this did not mean we failed, but that we have learned quickly.
David: I loved eating lunch and making new friends with a whole bunch of smart, multi-talented people. They were so easy to talk to due to their great personalities and our shared experiences.
Anoop: One of my favorite memories of Terp Startup was actually the very first day meeting everyone, and going on the Testudo scavenger hunt.
What was your favorite part about competing in Pitch Dingman Competition?
Chris: I thoroughly enjoyed the day of the competition. Even though I was insanely nervous, I learned a great deal about how to present difficult material under pressure.
Megha: I loved being able to stand on a platform and pitch an idea that I am very passionate about in front of numerous people. It was a very exciting opportunity to be able to share our ideas with a greater audience.
What’s next for Synapto?
Team: We’re currently publishing our results in a peer review journal for validation with the hopes of advancing the field of EEG in Alzheimer’s disease.
What advice would you give to student entrepreneurs just getting started?
Dhruv: Fail forward. There will be a million times where you will fail but that one success might be all you need that takes your idea or business to the next level.
Chris: Learn from books and experience. It is immensely helpful to learn from both your mistakes and the mistakes of others, so make sure you read and practice entrepreneurship.
David: Do good and have fun along the way. Obviously you’re smart enough and courageous enough to have found an idea to pursue, but if you’re not passionate about not only the idea, but also the work itself, then you’re going to have a tough time.
Megha: My advice is to never be afraid to ask for help! It can be intimidating at times when you don’t even know where to begin, but having support goes a long way. I am very thankful for the Dingman staff for always being there to give us that support and advice!
Anoop: Keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to pivot!