Funding / Life sciences / Startups

A 30-year-old acoustics company is spinning out hardware and SaaS product SenSV

SenSV's technology allows life science companies to monitor the vibration, audible sound and ultrasonic sound levels of a lab space.

Felicia Doggett with SenSV Courtesy photo

When Felicia Doggett started Metropolitan Acoustics in 1990, she couldn’t have pictured herself spinning out a tech startup 30-some years later.

The company, which she founded in her late 20s, provides sound and vibration monitoring services to buildings across the region. Building owners may want to know the vibration patterns of their space for a variety of reasons, like if a space is going to be turned into a theater or used for sports practices. The company also provides “sound modeling” for spaces — for example, LiveNation is a client, Doggett said.

But around 2017, Doggett started getting more requests from the growing life sciences sector in Philadelphia. A life science company that will perform trials or use very specialized equipment has very specific needs, Doggett said. Even the slightest vibrations (that humans can’t feel) can interact with an experiment using mice or equipment like scanning electron microscopes. The slightest movement can make images blurry or throw off the routine of testing animals, Doggett said.

“It’s kind of a combination of a lot of things happening at the same time — buildings were being built with lighter-weight materials, so they move more easily,” Doggett said. “And there’s a lot more buildings with laboratories being in built, in city center areas, where there’s subways and and freight trains and all that other stuff.”

These conditions coupled with the pandemic push for more life sciences meant there was a growing need for acoustics work. Doggett’s team began work on what is now called the SenSV, a hardware and software environmental monitoring device for laboratories. The device is placed in a space and sends data about vibration, audible sound and ultrasonic sound to a digital platform.

SenSV’s data portal. (Courtesy photo)

The device and its software are meant to give more of a full picture of the environment throughout a 24-hour cycle. How does an early morning train or trash pickup affect the vibrations of the environment?

Doggett’s team at Metropolitan Acoustics is 14 people, including those who are working on SenSV full time. They’re currently making revenue from their prototype out in the field, but they’ve also recently received a $50,000 grant from the JVS Fund (current applications for women-owned business grants are open through June 1). Doggett said they’ve also recently applied for a National Institute of Health grant that will go toward technology that will monitor environmental factors in laboratories.

The last piece of technology Doggett said they’re working on is putting the platform on the cloud with secure access. Once that’s done, they’ll have a sellable SaaS product and will spin SenSV out on it’s own.

More than three decades later, now in her late 50s, Doggett said she feels she’s “book-ending” her career.

“I’m kind of like, you know, now just starting a whole new, tech company,” Doggett said. “So I kind of feel like, you know, I’m book-ending my career. One I started, you know, the consulting company and then never would have thought that, at my age I would have started diving into a whole tech startup thing. But here I am and I’ll tell you, it’s a lot of fun.”

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