Right alongside Stacey Abrams and Reshma Saujani, Baltimore entrepreneur Ellington West is highlighted on this year’s Inc. Female Founders 100 list.
West is the CEO of Sonavi Labs, a company that is bringing a digital stethoscope, called Feelix, that uses data to identify and diagnose respiratory disease from lung and body sounds. A frequent voice from Maryland’s startup community on global stages, the recognition comes after West was named a 2021 Cartier Women’s Initiative North American Fellow earlier this year.
“The past 18 months have made my company’s mission to improve the lives of patients battling respiratory diseases even more urgent, increasing our drive to ensure that advanced respiratory diagnostics are accessible for patients in both clinical settings and in the home,” West said in a statement. “Thank you, Inc., for this recognition and for all the women who show up to create positive change in the world, even in the face of challenges and adversity.”
The recognition comes as the company is progressing with new funding. This month, Sonavi Labs closed a seed round with over $3.5 million raised. It was supported by Sand Hill Angels of Silicon Valley, Gaingels, Nightingale Partners and Matt Hellauer of PTX Capital, along with other angel investors. The company has also received two grants through the National Institutes of Health worth over $3 million combined.
West also recently won $100,000 in the Princeton Empower 2021 pitch competition. The company received $10,000 from Children’s National Hospital through the Bear Institute PACK (Pediatric Accelerator Challenge for Kids), and Sonavi will be launching a remote monitoring pilot with the pediatric institution.
Growth of the team is expected to follow. Sonavi Labs currently has six full-time employees, and is planning hiring in the coming months. In the next year, it plans to add a dozen new positions. This comes a year after the company received FDA clearance for the Feelix hardware.
Nurtured in Baltimore at Johns Hopkins and ETC’s AccelerateBaltimore program, Sonavi Labs is based out of a growing entrepreneurship hub at 1100 Wicomico in Pigtown. Sonavi is among a cluster of medical device and software companies growing in Baltimore, even as it blazes a rare path.
The fundraising prowess makes West one of a small number of Black women to raise more than $1 million. While VC funding for Black women founders was on its way to a five-year high, halfway through the year, according to Crunchbase, these entrepreneurs still received just .34% of all venture capital. The number of Black women who raised more than $1 million stood at 93 at the end of 2020, per ProjectDiane, a number that nearly tripled in the prior two years. While achieving milestones, West has been vocal about the need for more support for Black women founders, and her own intention to create more opportunity.
Alumnae of Inc.’s Female Founders 100 list include Jessica Alba, Tracee Ellis Ross, Rihanna, Alli Webb, Anne Wojcicki and Shonda Rhimes.
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