Health tech / Startups

Meet the founders who are building a patch to analyze your sweat

Rajatesh Gudibande and Saurabh Radhakrishnan met while working at Graphene Frontiers and are now building their own graphene-based startup, GraphWear Technologies.

Rajatesh Gudibande pitches at Dreamit Health Demo Day, October 2015. (Courtesy photo)
In 2007, Rajatesh Gudibande enrolled as an undergrad in an institution in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, on the southeastern coast of India — the most underdeveloped part of the county — because that’s where a college education was free.

The cost, in this case, was the risk of developing malaria.
Gudibande came down with it four times. A trip to the hospital from the institution where he was studying required a 20-minute ride via tanga, or bull cart, then a transfer to a bus for a three-hour commute to an emergency room in the nearest city. It was those experiences that led him to an interest in medical research.
A few years earlier, a 10-year-old Saurabh Radhakrishnan, the son of a software company owner, was taking a flight to India from Singapore to visit his gravely sick uncle. His uncle had developed Stevens-Johnson syndrome in reaction to his gout medication. It’s a disorder that starts with flu-like symptoms and is followed by a painful rash that spreads and blisters. His uncle eventually recovered but his brush with death led Radhakrishnan to study nanotechnology and its healthcare applications.

Saurabh Radhakrishnan, GraphWear cofounder.

Saurabh Radhakrishnan. (Courtesy photo)

A decade later, the pair met in Philadelphia.
They were both working at Penn spinout startup Graphene Frontiers — Radhakrishnan was an intern, getting his master’s in nanotech at Penn, while Gudibande, who had just completed his master’s in nanotech at Penn, was a product development manager. They soon became gym buddies. And, together, they became obsessed with sweat.
Gudibande, 26, and Radhakrishnan, 24, are the cofounders of GraphWear Technologies, a startup that is developing a patch that can analyze your sweat and communicate its findings via mobile app. It could tell you, among other things, when you need to drink water in order to prevent a muscle cramp. They’re currently focusing on athletes as their target customer but hope to develop healthcare applications.
The team works out of 3401 Market St., at Dreamit’s headquarters, and are currently part of the Science Center’s Digital Health Accelerator (DHA), alongside fellow Dreamit Health grads like Oncora MedicalGrand Round Table and Tissue Analytics. GraphWear got $50,000 from the DHA, as well as $50,000 from Dreamit Health, in exchange for 8 percent equity.
If you’re developing a patch that can be safely worn on the skin to collect data on the condition of the human body, you have to isolate a biological marker that can be measured. And that marker has to be carried in the equivalent of diluted and ultra-filtered blood, and collected without piercing the skin. Hence, sweat.
Believe it or not, the most difficult thing about completing their research is making sweat. It takes one hell of a workout to create actual drops as opposed to a stinky film. And where to collect it is another challenge. Gudibande discovered that a patch is most effective when worn in the natural gutter for sweat: the small of the back. He told that to the crowd at Dreamit Health’s demo day last October, placing the patch on the small of his back and jumping around to demonstrate how it worked.
The patch is made of graphene, the strongest material ever discovered and, when first isolated, won the 2010 Nobel Prize in physics. Using graphene as the base material in a patch that measures these markers is facilitated by the fact that graphene is chemically inert. This means it’s chemical composition doesn’t change when exposed to other elements. It’s unalterable, impenetrable.
While we spoke, Gudibande talked about the elusive graphene saying, “You have to play around with it.”
He told me this while talking about their patent-pending process that cuts roughly 13 steps from the production of a usable graphene film. When he first started handling the material, he asked a grad student why they never tried to find another way to reduce the lengthy and costly process. The grad student said, “That’s the way we do it.” So Gudibande started playing with it.
As he says, “You just have to try.”

Companies: DreamIt Health

Before you go...

Please consider supporting to keep our independent journalism strong. Unlike most business-focused media outlets, we don’t have a paywall. Instead, we count on your personal and organizational support.

3 ways to support our work:
  • Contribute to the Journalism Fund. Charitable giving ensures our information remains free and accessible for residents to discover workforce programs and entrepreneurship pathways. This includes philanthropic grants and individual tax-deductible donations from readers like you.
  • Use our Preferred Partners. Our directory of vetted providers offers high-quality recommendations for services our readers need, and each referral supports our journalism.
  • Use our services. If you need entrepreneurs and tech leaders to buy your services, are seeking technologists to hire or want more professionals to know about your ecosystem, has the biggest and most engaged audience in the mid-Atlantic. We help companies tell their stories and answer big questions to meet and serve our community.
The journalism fund Preferred partners Our services

Join our growing Slack community

Join 5,000 tech professionals and entrepreneurs in our community Slack today!


Philly startup Burro aims to revolutionize farming with robots

Philly is ranked one of the world’s best places to found a startup, climbing to No. 25 globally

Ghost Robotics is landing a $240M exit, dodging months of protests over military uses

As a returning citizen, she experienced tech overload. Now she’s fighting to end the digital divide

Technically Media