Ray Fraser is a serial entrepreneur. He is co-founder and CEO at his sixth start-up, VitalView Technologies. The company brings patient monitoring into the home with a contactless sensor platform keeping eye on heart failure patients. This potentially life-changing technology reaches far beyond the medical field.
His entrepreneurial journey started his senior year in college at the University of Richmond. A double major in finance and marketing, Ray founded Snooze Systems with his friends and roommates. Snooze gave university students access to a streamlined class registration process. While the company didn’t go on to huge success, it gave Ray insight into the importance of road mapping a business and knowing when to bootstrap your way through and when to seek out investors.
“We were promising product features that our small team didn’t have the capacity to deliver on,” he said. “We would have needed an engineering team of five to ten people and we just kept on adding more features upon features.”
Originally from Hartford, Connecticut, the University of Notre Dame drew Ray to the South Bend – Elkhart region. After working with a variety of startups, he knew he wanted to take his career to the next level and began working on his master’s degree in business administration. He became involved with the IDEA Center at the university, becoming Entrepreneur-in-Residence for the Pit Road Venture Fund. It was through this position that he learned of the technology behind Vital View.
“This is all based on incredible faculty research out of the University of Notre Dame,” Ray said. “The faculty researcher is Dr. Tom Pratt. He is an expert in what’s called Radio Frequency (RF) Polarization Mode Dispersion or RF PMD. While PMD was understood in Optical Systems and was considered a source of noise, PMD in the RF systems contains a vastly rich set of data. Dr. Pratt was the first person to recognize that PMD in RF systems could be harnessed to build sensors with previously unmatched capabilities. But because of Dr. Pratt’s breakthrough, it’s now giving the medical community a less invasive way to capture critical human body data such as fluid retention that wasn’t possible before.”
The Vital View sensor platform monitors fluid build-up in congestive heart failure patients from home. This sensor can sit in one of two places – underneath the patient’s mattress or on the wall. One reading is taken each day, and over time can identify changes in fluid levels.
“This would allow both care teams and patients to monitor the event of fluid overload happening,” he said.
The patient can now witness how their lifestyle and diet choices impact their health. If fluid levels increase, the patient can reflect on the past day to consider their sodium or fluid in-take and activity level to act.
“It helps to reinforce the regiments the care teams put in place and helps them have an active dialogue with the patient,” Ray said.
Better care is important to Ray. His brother lives with class 2 congestive heart failure.
“I’ve been able to see first-hand how, if a tool like this were available, could impact overall quality of care that care teams are able to provide patients and, overall, lead to even better outcomes,” he said.
He sees the technology expanding into monitoring for other health issues, such as kidney disease.
“I think this technology has vast applications to any area in the medical industry where fluid retention is an issue,” he said. “But we’ve also even seen outside of the medical field possible applications such as agriculture, where moisture has an impact on grain processing.”
This East Coast transplant loves what the South Bend – Elkhart region offers on both a professional and personal level. He enjoys the support for entrepreneurs and Elevate Ventures initiatives throughout the state. He and his girlfriend explore the food scene in the area and enjoy trips to Silver Beach. Ray is a kayaker and frequently travels the St. Joseph River.
“What I find when it comes to starting a company, you need to have escapes where you can focus and manage stress well,” he said. “Those are some of the things that help me manage both dealing with the day-to-day of running a start-up, but also my overall mental health.”
Ray is excited for the journey Vital View is on. The company recently hit a huge product milestone and is raising a second round of funding. This all leads to product demonstrations in the fall with clinical trials and FDA submission next year.
Looking ahead, Ray wants his legacy to be built around making a positive impact.
“I want to plant roots in this community,” he said. “Not just to build Vital View into a great company that can employ and start a lot of great careers, but to also support other entrepreneurs coming along the way after, so this can become a large vibrant community in and of itself.”
For more information on VitalView Technologies, visit www.vitalviewtech.com.