Kunj G. Patel, MD MSc: we envision our business, SafeBeat, to be a pioneering force in AF (Atrial Fibrillation) treatment and wearable cardiac technology

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Tell us about yourself?

I have 18 years of experience in applied mathematics and translational research. I hold a Master’s degree in applied mathematics and have a computational background.

I have trained at Harvard University, Emory University, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

As a double board-certified physician in physical medicine and rehabilitation and pain management, I routinely performed heart rhythm monitoring for thousands of patients on high-risk neuropathic and opioid pain medications using a novel remote monitoring platform that I created for my own private practice prior to co-founding SafeBeat Rx.

From my practice in St. Louis, I am intimately familiar with the unique needs and barriers of underserved patients, as I directly cared for inner-city, minority, and rural populations from Missouri and Illinois.

In addition to co-founding Nopioids with Dr. Navara, I have been appointed to numerous national leadership positions, including the Board of Directors for the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians, Vice Chair of the Missouri Young Physicians Association, Alternate Sectional Delegate to the American Medical Association, White House Presidential Leadership Scholar Finalist, and Board of Directors for the Association of Academic Physiatrists.

What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?

I believe the most common misconception people have about startups is underestimating the challenges involved in getting a new business off the ground. While some may think that starting a new venture is easy, the reality is far more complex. Numerous factors must align for a startup to succeed, making the process of development, hiring, and thriving in today’s competitive market significantly more complicated than imagined.

Firstly, launching a startup requires careful planning and impeccable timing. From developing the product to assembling a skilled team, each step demands attention to detail and coordination. Even with a fantastic idea, execution plays a crucial role, and any misstep can have serious consequences.

Secondly, the emotional toll of entrepreneurship is often overlooked. The startup journey resembles an emotional rollercoaster, with exhilarating highs and challenging lows. Navigating uncertainties, setbacks, and the pressure of building something from scratch can turn feelings upside down. To succeed, founders must possess unwavering determination and resilience to persevere through tough times.

Lastly, disrupting the status quo and carving a place in the market is no small feat. Startups often challenge established norms and face resistance from existing players. Making meaningful changes requires not only determination but also the ability to adapt and pivot as needed.

In conclusion, starting a startup is not a simple task, and the process goes beyond having a good idea. It demands a deep understanding of the market, a strong focus on execution, and the mental fortitude to weather the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. By acknowledging these challenges, aspiring entrepreneurs can better prepare for the demanding yet rewarding journey of building a successful startup.

What lessons has being an entrepreneur taught you?

As an entrepreneur, I have learned several valuable lessons that have shaped my approach to business. One of the most critical lessons is the significance of assembling a high-caliber team. When embarking on the journey of building a startup, it is vital to be meticulous in the hiring process and enlist individuals who not only possess expertise in the desired area but also complement the skills and vision of the company.

Selecting the right employees is a time-consuming process, but it is time well spent. Experienced and knowledgeable team members bring diverse perspectives and insights, contributing to a stronger foundation for the business. They can drive innovation, boost productivity, and create a positive work culture, all of which are vital for long-term success.

People are undeniably one of the most valuable assets in the business world. They are the driving force behind a company’s growth and success. Hiring talented individuals who are aligned with the company’s mission and values can significantly impact the organization’s trajectory.

Conversely, making hasty or ill-informed hiring decisions can prove disastrous. A team that lacks the necessary expertise or cohesion may hinder progress and jeopardize the company’s survival. Therefore, it is crucial to strike the right balance between being thorough in the hiring process and avoiding unnecessary delays that may impede the company’s growth.

Additionally, entrepreneurship has taught me the importance of adaptability. The business landscape is dynamic, and unexpected challenges are inevitable. As an entrepreneur, being receptive to change and adaptable in the face of adversity is vital for sustainability and growth. Flexibility allows for seizing new opportunities and mitigating potential risks, making it easier to steer the company in the right direction.

Furthermore, failure is an inherent part of the entrepreneurial journey. Instead of fearing failure, I have learned to embrace it as a source of valuable lessons. Every setback presents an opportunity to learn, iterate, and improve. Resilience and the ability to bounce back from failures are essential qualities for any entrepreneur.

In conclusion, my experiences as an entrepreneur have emphasized the importance of building a strong and competent team, being adaptable in a rapidly changing business environment, and embracing failure as a stepping stone towards success. These lessons continue to guide me on my entrepreneurial journey, helping me navigate challenges and work towards building a thriving and resilient business.

If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

Starting a business is a challenging journey with ups and downs. My advice to my past self would be to embrace setbacks as learning opportunities. Stay resilient, maintain a positive mindset, and view challenges as stepping stones to success. Persistence, adaptability, and a focus on the long-term vision are key to building a thriving business.

A lot of entrepreneurs find it difficult to balance their work and personal lives. How have you found that?

As an entrepreneur juggling multiple roles, maintaining a healthy work-life balance is paramount. I’ve found that using a calendar and setting reminders for both work and personal tasks helps me stay organized. It’s crucial to set realistic schedules and prioritize self-care. I ensure I make time for my hobbies, like comedy writing and exercise, to recharge and stay focused. Creating boundaries between work and personal life allows me to thrive in both areas.

Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?

Rachita Navara, MD found this problem through her direct treatment of patients starting antiarrhythmic drugs. Patients were being drawn to the hospital to start oral pills and providers were manually performing all steps of the workflow.

Furthermore, the troublesome logistics would result in delays of many months, or even years/never for some patients in starting these potential life-saving medications.

Meanwhile I was building a monitoring platform in my clinic to better monitor cardiac patients during the pandemic and allow for comprehensive preop testing.

We recognized the value in uniting these interests to solve this problem and quickly built the first MVP.

What do you think is your magic sauce? What sets you apart from the competitors?

Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart rhythm disorder, affecting 38 million worldwide with lifetime risk of up to 1 in 3. AF increases mortality by 3.7-fold and causes one in four strokes over age 40. Oral antiarrhythmic drugs not only reduce symptoms, but they also improve cardiovascular outcomes and reduce mortality. However, there are currently no solutions that provide a system for rhythm control.

The SafeBeat software helps providers manage the drug loads from a phone. It brings in ECG data from various devices and provides measurements on the data as well as treatment recommendations. There is no current solution that offers an end to end workflow for drug loading, all from a phone.

How have you found sales so far? Do you have any lessons you could pass on to other founders in the same market as you just starting out?

The most important key to succeeding in sales is to outline a sales and marketing strategy prior to implementation. The strategy includes identifying our ideal customers, their needs, pain points, and preferences. Because our co-founder, Dr. Rachita Navara, is an EP cardiologist, we get to hear first hand what the customers need and tailor our approach to effectively address specific requirements.

By building the product with customers as the focus, we build trust and strong relationships rather than just concentrating on selling the product. We believe that the product is offering a valuable solution to our customers. We learn from both our failures and successes and see them as an opportunity to grow and learn. All outcomes are analyzed and used to refine our strategy.

What do you consider are the main strengths of operating your business in California over other states in the US?

The ability to access the technology and entertainment capitals of the United States, in addition to the robust economy of the state, is the greatest advantage of conducting business in California. It is home to the most prosperous economy in the country as well as a massive market that offers unimaginable opportunities.

One of the key advantages of California’s competitive environment is its access to capital. The state attracts a significant amount of venture capital investment, making it easier for us to secure funding for our business ideas. The presence of angel investors, venture capitalists, and private equity firms actively seeking innovative startups creates a favorable landscape for raising capital.

What (if any) are the weaknesses of operating your business within California?

The main weaknesses of operating our business in California are the high costs, including living expenses, taxes, and regulatory requirements. Additionally, the competitive market demands continuous innovation and differentiation to stand out in crowded industries.

We are currently suffering through a cost of living crisis. With California already being one of the most expensive states to live in, how has this impacted your business?

The high cost of living often translates to higher wages and salaries. Businesses in California may face increased labor costs, which can strain their budgets, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Hiring and retaining skilled talent may also be more challenging due to the competitive job market and the need to offer competitive compensation packages.

It’s important to note that while the high cost of living presents challenges, California’s business environment still offers significant opportunities, such as access to capital, a talented workforce, and a robust market.

However, businesses must carefully manage their costs, explore efficiencies, and adapt their strategies to navigate the unique economic landscape in the state.

It is no secret that California is the birthplace of innovation. But that also makes it incredibly competitive. How have you found the competitive environment of California?

I believe that a healthy amount of competition can be beneficial. In addition, for our company to achieve financial success, we have to devise strategies that allow us to maintain a competitive advantage over our competitors.

Competition exists in every market. To overcome this, we made a plan of action that will set us apart from the competition.

Have you considered moving your company to another state? If so, which state and why?

No, we haven’t considered moving to another state.

Where do you see your business in the next 5 years?

In the next 5 years, we envision our business, SafeBeat, to be a pioneering force in AF (Atrial Fibrillation) treatment. With the SafeBeat Kit as our flagship product, we aim to streamline the way AF patients receive care and manage their treatment. This unique approach will enable us to focus not only on diagnostics but also on facilitating AF treatment, making us stand out in the market.

Our software integrates with each patient’s ECG data from the ECG device and provides QTc and personalized dosing guidance based on the drug label.

Moreover, the SafeBeat app serves as a vital link between patients and clinic staff, fostering rhythm monitoring and communication. Both patients and physicians have access to the app-based software, empowering patients to take an active role in their treatment journey.

Looking ahead, we aim to further expand our product offerings and software capabilities, catering to a wider range of cardiac conditions and wearable health devices. As we continue to innovate and lead in the realm of ML-driven cardiac technology, we envision SafeBeat becoming the go-to solution for AF patients and healthcare providers worldwide.

Overall, in the next 5 years, we see SafeBeat as a driving force in AF treatment. Our dedication to innovation, personalized care, and continuous improvement will solidify our position as a key player in the market.

And finally, if people want to get involved and learn more about your business, how should they do that?

For those seeking involvement and further information about SafeBeat, various contact options are available. Interested parties can reach out via the website’s contact form at

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