3. Onwards and Upwards

The last five months have flown by, and we have a bunch of updates. We’ve made a lot of progress but we also have a long road ahead of us.

A few days after New Year’s in January 2016, we found out we were named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 in Healthcare and it’s been surreal. While our team’s philosophy is to let our work speak for itself (and we still have a lot to do!), the recognition has created a lot of opportunities to connect with new people. We’ve learned that most people like to give advice – you just need the right opportunities to meet them. Forbes also periodically hosts lunches and gatherings and we’ve met a speechwriter at the White House and someone who helps develop stories for Sesame Street. Most of these people are incredibly humble and it’s a really cool experience to talk to people whose lives are wildly different from your own.

Forbes 30 Under 30 event in January 2016.

Forbes 30 Under 30 event in January 2016.

Recently, we’ve been involved a lot with VentureWell. At the end of January, we attended the E-Team Stage 2 workshop in Boston; in March, we traveled to Portland, OR, and demoed at Open Minds (where we won the People’s Choice award!); and we’ll be heading to Boston a few more times in the upcoming months for the Stage 3 ASPIRE workshop. For all the startup teams still in college out there, definitely consider applying. The mentors are phenomenal and we’ve had a ton of fun getting to know the other teams. It’s a great feeling to meet other college and grad students who can relate to the challenges of starting a business while still in school, and the VentureWell mentors are always willing to help even after the workshops as long as you ask.

Demoing at VentureWell Open in March 2016.

Demoing at VentureWell Open in March 2016.

Over spring break in March, we traveled to Brussels and Geneva to meet with MSF and WHO. This was facilitated by our partners at USAID, which speaks to a larger theme about why it’s so important where your company gets its funding from. Regardless of whether it’s from a foundation, the government, or a VC/angel, having expertise or connections in your field can sometimes be even more important than the money. Our demo for MSF got really positive feedback, and we’re planning on returning later this year to set up a field-test with them. The meeting at the WHO was also very productive and we’re working to see where Highlight might fit into recommendations for decontamination.

Presenting to WHO in Geneva in March 2016.

Presenting to WHO in Geneva in March 2016.

And finally, we graduated from Columbia! To say the least, it was challenging to balance school work while prioritizing Kinnos, especially when we had a couple of unique opportunities to drop out or take a break from school and get funding. But in the end, graduating from college wasn’t about Kinnos – it was about fulfilling another dream of ours. And now that we’ve got our degrees, it’s extremely liberating to be able to go field-testing or travel to meetings without having to worry about studying for exams. We’re ready for the long haul.

So what’s next? We were recently featured in the Wall Street Journal and some other exciting pieces are coming out soon. We’re flying to Guinea for a field-testing trip in a few hours, and traveling back to Boston for EurekaFest as a winner of the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize Competition in mid-June. In August, we’ll officially start working out of Columbia Startup Lab, so if you’re ever around SoHo, let us know! We’re going to start posting more regularly here, and we’ll definitely write about our field-testing experiences in Guinea. On to the next adventure!