Vivek Kopparthi

Full name:

Vivek Kopparthi

What do you do?

I am co-founder and CEO of NeoLight. I am the guy who wears suits to work every day but gets to do everything from cleaning desks to attending investor meetings.

What product or service do you provide?

NeoLight is a lean medical device company that develops empathy-driven and best in-class technology for newborn health conditions. We started off by attacking jaundice, a condition that occurs in 6 out of 10 newborns, and delivered Skylife—the fastest and the most powerful technology to treat this condition. We are [now] working on Pringle, a hypothermia technology, and will continue this progression to several conditions that occur in the newborn care market.

How did you come up with this idea?

It all started when Siva, my CTO, was lurking across a hospital in northern India. He saw a stack of naked babies, crying, sweating, and yellow, treated for jaundice with a lamp that was hung from the ceiling with a rope. That scenario stuck to his mind and he talked to me about brainstorming a solution for it. He is a biomedical engineer and I am an electrical engineer; my other founders are mechanical and legal studies major—we put two and two together and got it done. We would not be here if not for my genius CTO, Siva.

What was the biggest challenge in executing this idea?

The biggest challenge was and is the FDA clearance. Designing a medical device is different from designing any other device. So many conditions, standards and constraints—all for good, yes, but [things] could have been simpler and easier. We are working with the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and Intertek, our two big strategic partners, to help us navigate through the FDA clearance.

How did you get started in the tech industry?

I was a born entrepreneur. My parents run a business together and every day at home, I get to hear discussions on last week’s sales and profits. I am an electronics and telecom engineer and a business graduate from Arizona State University. ASU is such an entrepreneurial university; they gave us $7000 for the idea that we had, gave us access to TechShop (a prototyping space) and asked us to validate the idea by building a proof of concept model. We did that, and once we got [clearance] from the doctors at St. Joe’s and Phoenix Children’s Hospital, we went ahead and invested our careers into this.

How long have you lived or worked in Arizona? What have you noticed about the growth of the tech industry here?

I have been here for almost 3 years, and one thing I observe is that Arizona is hyper-developing. It is developing at such a fast pace that its momentum helps startups like us flourish well. When I graduated from school, I had three offers on the table and NeoLight to choose from. I chose NeoLight boldly because of ASU and the community’s support. Every day and every person is an opportunity out here!

If you could only describe your city with one word, which word would it be?

Hot.

What’s your favorite thing about living in Arizona?

People are kind and helpful. I am where I am because I asked for help and people helped me out. In New York or California, it’s a mostly transactional or incentivized support system. I remember a day when me and Chase, my other founder, were sad and sitting idle in a corner not knowing what to do and then one of our mentors, Garret Westlake, walked by and supported us with some comforting words, coffee, and introductions to more investors.

I have a mentor (Russ Yelton) who is the CEO of Pinnacle Transplant Technologies and spends an hour every three weeks with us to help us out, guide us through and make sure we are doing the right things. Given his stature and success, he doesn’t have to, but it is kind and nice of him to do so!

What’s your least favorite thing about living in Arizona?

Heat, heat, heat. That’s the one thing I hate the most.

The foodie scene is growing bigger and bigger by the day here in Arizona. What’s your favorite place to grab lunch in your city?

For lunch—Postino. I go there once a week and I have never had anything other than their bruschetta and veggie sandwich. But Sunday brunches—Snooze! The pineapple pancake at Snooze is the best I have ever had!

What’s your favorite dinner spot?

My favorite dinner spot would be the Inchin Bamboo Garden by Scottsdale & Gold Dust. It is an Indo-Chinese fusion [restaurant], and love the spicy food there. I get tears when I eat the food but I love it!

What’s your favorite place to work in your city?

We are at The Henry every Wednesday. It’s the hottest coffee shop in town!

What is your favorite memory from Arizona?

My favorite memory from Arizona was when me and my team went to a spring training game—we had a great time on the lawn and as an immigrant I knew nothing about baseball, so I got to learn the game from my teammates.

Website:

www.theneolight.com

Adrianna Nine

Author: Adrianna Nine

Adrianna is a journalist, fiction writer, and criminal justice student at ASU in bustling downtown Phoenix. When she isn't tapping away at her keyboard or reading up on bad guys, Adrianna can be found soaking in the Arizona sun and testing out the coolest coffee shops in town.

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