From the Kitchen Table to NASA Funding: The Founder Story
Therapeutics designer, Madhavi Gavini and Medical diagnostics developer, Rathi Srinivas always dreamed of making a lasting impact. After inspiration at a medical conference, they got to work: ordering electronic parts, building a prototype, scoring funding from NASA, and continuing work with Walter Reed. Droplette is the first application of their plans to get actives under your skin.
From a young age, both of us have been passionate about translating technologies for health and wellness from the lab bench into the hands of users who can really benefit from them. Through our careers, we’ve been fortunate enough to do impactful research in fields including drug discovery (a drug that Madhavi invented was granted the first FDA designation for pediatric heart disease since 1994), medical diagnostics (Rathi did her PhD in biomarkers & point of care diagnostics for resource-limited settings), and neuroscience. We’ve always dreamt of chasing the big problems in the world that can truly improve people’s lives.
Droplette was originally a project born on Madhavi’s kitchen table. We had just returned from a rare disease conference where we had learned about a debilitating skin disease called Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB). This rare genetic disease disproportionately affects pediatric patients and due to a single missing gene, the skin won't adhere to the muscle underneath. It causes immensely painful wounds and even a wound dressing or an ointment is extremely painful
We asked ourselves: what if we could just deliver the missing gene or even drugs like pain relievers or antibiotics into the skin of these patients with no pain? We bought some electronics components from Ebay and got to work. We did some experiments using the prototypes that we had built at home and found that we’d stumbled upon some really fascinating fluid physics phenomena that could actually significantly enhance delivery of drugs across the skin. We filed our first patent and started looking for funding: our first-ever grant funding into Droplette actually came from NASA; the fluid physics excited them too.
Although we started out working on the Droplette technology as a painless, needle-free delivery solution that could hopefully one day cure EB, we quickly realized that our technology has applications in every realm of skincare. Both of us have had our share of skincare issues: between us we’ve dealt with acne in our twenties, hyperpigmentation, dry skin, and scarring and we’ve tried every over the counter product out there. As it turns out, most of them don’t really work or offer a holistic solution.
We wanted to use the Droplette technology to effectively deliver tried and true ingredients into the skin and expand the use of our technology to consumers. This isn’t to say that we abandoned our original mission: we are supported by the NIH in continuing the EB research and are currently partnered with Walter Reed Army Institute to use Droplette to treat blast wounds that impact soldiers in the field.
We’ve worked on engineering & optimizing this technology for many years and along the way, we’ve spoken with countless physicians, drug delivery experts, and end users. The device itself has gone through dozens of iterations so that we could get the form factor, the feel, and the efficacy perfectly right. Alongside the device, we’ve developed our formulations to only include those essential ingredients that are necessary for your skin, and have spent years in the lab tweaking the ingredients and concentrations to achieve the best results.
More recently, we’ve built an amazing team and are fortunate to work with some of the world’s best advisors and experts, including Dr. Leonard Miller, Dr. Rox Anderson, and Dr. Samir Mitragotri. We believe that we have successfully tackled the two biggest challenges in skincare with our technology: pain and effective delivery. We created this as a medical-grade product and are so excited to finally bring Droplette into the hands of users like you."