Kyle Washington’s latest venture deals with something many people have never heard of: the human body’s secondary heart.
Washington, a serial entrepreneur and a senior majoring in political science, is working with his team of interns to sell the Heart Partner, a Binghamton University-owned and patented technology.
The cardiovascular system operates with two pumps. The heart in the chest circulates blood through the arteries while gravity pulls blood down; the secondary heart, known as the soleus muscle, is located in the calf and returns this pooled blood and fluid in the legs and feet back up to the heart.
Developed by Sonostics, the Heart Partner stimulates the nerves at the bottom of each foot while a person sits, exercising the muscle. When the calf muscle is idle, it starts to deteriorate, and there is correlation between the weak muscle and dementia/declining cognitive functions, along with unexplained fatigue, dizziness, swelling in the legs or ankles, difficulty concentrating and cold hands and feet.
The primary targets for the Heart Partner are assisted living facilities and other institutions associated with older adults, as fluid pooling leads to other heart problems. For Washington, this product can actually make a difference, and it is something he’s excited about.
“It’s one thing to play in the lab and get lots of grants and build buildings, but it’s another when we’re flourishing, when we’re building technologies that can truly change the world, and that’s happening,” Washington said.
Washington has already started 14 companies, including NuGenix, Inc., a men’s vitality supplement company and DermaCare Labs, Inc., which were sold to larger companies, as well as AMG Mortgage Investment Bank, which dissolved. Now, he has hired 18 graduate and undergraduate student interns and is looking for 12 more to join his sales team to earn skills, credit and money.
Starting November 2, his team is “blitzing” the campus, or approaching random students over the course of five days, to engage with and inform them about the Heart Partner and hear questions they ask in preparation for pitching the product to companies.
Washington said that he enjoys having student interns because the project is more than just selling the Heart Partner for Sonostics, but rather a hands-on, experimental and educational project that will allow students to learn skills in the process of sales.
Ercin Yildirim is a senior majoring in computer science and Washington’s chief technology officer. He helps run the intern program due to his experience in building four e-commerce websites. Yildirim said that being an intern gives him an opportunity he may not have after college.
“When I was a junior, I didn’t have any chance to get this kind of experience, and I really struggled when I tried to sell something in my first business,” Yildirim said. “I think this is a really great chance for students to get experience to go out there before they graduate.”
Washington said he has also started work on the team’s next patented prototype, tentatively called the “invisible blanket,” which uses a 15-watt light source that creates a shield so a person’s body cannot release the energy that it naturally produces. They’ve already built a prototype and have ideas for production, and they recently got revisions for the patent to be hopefully released soon.
“It’s a trillion dollar technology because in the future we won’t be heating buildings, we’ll be heating people, and we’ll make this device so small, eventually, that you’ll be able to wear it on your belt,” Washington said. “This will save hundreds of thousands of lives; it’ll save tens of millions of dollars.”