Startups

Sonavi Labs wins SXSW pitch fest — and hangs up its competition gloves

The Pigtown-based medical device company took first place in the competition's health, wearables and wellbeing category, as well as an award for "Best DEI Company."

(L to R) Sonavi Labs' Brandon Dottin-Haley and Ellington West at SXSW 2022.

(Courtesy photo)

Baltimore’s Sonavi Labs has again wowed observers with its innovative stethoscope technology by winning a top prize at  South by Southwest’s 14th annual pitch competition, beating out thousands of applicants.

It’s also hanging up its competition gloves.

Technical.ly has covered multiple companies from its markets attending this year’s return to an in-person SXSW in Austin. An assortment of Pittsburgh edtech companies participated in events, while a cybersecurity firm and a wildfire detection company from DC made a showing at the pitch competition. Sonavi Labs’ digital stethoscope, which combines AI and acoustic technology, took first place in the competition’s health, wearables and wellbeing category. The 11-employee company also won an award for “Best DEI Company,” according to its statement.

The company earned $4,000 for the pitch competition and $1,000 for the DEI award.

“Every pitch competition we’ve competed in, in the last year we’ve won,” Sonavi Labs’ CEO Ellington West told Technical.ly. “I just wanted SXSW under our belt. I consider that our Mecca, our Everest, and now, it’s time to duplicate that in revenue for our company. We’re at that point now where we’re all grown up. We’ve navigated this space in a meaningful way, but now, it’s time for us to execute. [We must] ensure these devices are in the hands of the people that not only need them the most but that we’re partnering with the right folks.”

Over the course of last year, the Pigtown-based company’s long list of accolades included winning HLTH‘s 2021 pitch competition and West landing on last years’ Inc. Female Founders 100 list. This 2020 Technical.ly Awards Startup of the Year winner continues to shine.

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Worth noting: Sonavi Labs is a medical device company with a diverse team and mission, but it is not making a DEI-focused product. It’s not a DEI company in the same vein as MindStand Technologies or Black Brain Trust. The DEI award is thus sort of like giving Beyonce’s “Lemonade” a theoretical “Best Hip Hop Album” honor: It’s a pop album. Just give it “Album of the Year.”


Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.
Companies: Sonavi Labs, SXSW
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