Local Business Committed to Addressing Opioid Crisis Wins San Diego Angel Competition

Carmel Valley entrepreneur Patrik Schmidle is passionate about doing what he can to help fight the opioid crisis in this country. His health technology company CARI Health is developing a remote medication monitoring device that allows doctors to prescribe medications and receive real-time reports on medication levels.

In March, CARI Health won the grand prize at the San Diego Angel Conference, winning a check for $300,000.

Patrik Schmidle, founder of CARI Health.

(CARI Health)

The Angel Conference is a partnership between a group of angel investors and the Free Enterprise Institute at the University of San Diego School of Business, aimed at building the innovation ecosystem by supporting startups promising like CARI.

CARI Health was also recently recognized as a 2022 Connect Cool Company, an annual investment program designed to match San Diego’s top performing technology and life science startups with quality venture capital. As Cool Company, Schmidle’s company was featured at the first annual Innovation Day event at Petco Park on April 28.

Millions of Americans abuse prescription opioids and, according to the CDC, there were 75,673 overdose deaths in 2021, up from 56,064 the previous year.

Schmidle was inspired to start the business after a close family member struggled with opioid addiction. Fortunately, their story had a happy ending, but he knows many are fighting this fight with far less, without a family support system, good health insurance, or help of any kind.

“I realized what a profound difference it can make in a patient’s life, for them to get the right help and the right medicine and how devastating it is when you don’t have it” , did he declare.

Schmidle is originally from Germany and first came to the United States as an exchange student. He stayed to play sports, play college football, and eventually come to San Diego for college. He has lived in Carmel Valley for 20 years with his wife Sue, raising three boys and coaching them on the Sharks recreational soccer, recreational basketball and FNA flag football teams.

With his business background, he has held leadership positions in companies of all sizes, from start-ups to publicly traded companies. Launching CARI Health in 2015, he assembled a team of experts and innovators to tackle the opioid crisis, including an electrochemist, an electrical engineer, a software/hardware expert as well as people with experience in treating people with opioid addiction.

CARI has been incubated at UC San Diego’s Qualcomm Innovation Space since 2016, being part of the UCSD ecosystem and developing relationships with faculty and clinicians. UCSD is the sub-recipient of many of their grants.

He and his team are part of UCSD’s Institute for the Global Entrepreneur (IGE) MedTech program, which Schmidle says is like a bootcamp for entrepreneurs. A mentor is assigned who meets with them weekly to help them understand how to move from the vision to market stage and provide feedback as they progress. “For us, it was a game-changer,” Schmidle said.

At CARI, they pivoted several times in the design of the remote medication monitor. An iteration was implemented to detect levels of abuse. “We realized patient adoption was going to be a challenge, so we went with a wearable device,” Schmidle said.

The latest iteration is about the size of a quarter, similar to the continuous glucose monitor used by diabetics. The patient wears the sensor on their skin, and if drug levels fall outside the desired range, alerts can be sent to clinicians, the patient, and family members.

CARI Health applied for the San Diego Angels Conference in late 2021 and had its first presentation in February of this year. Nearly 100 companies applied and after a series of pitches they were narrowed down to the top 24. Investors decide which 12 advance to the next round and then the top six to the final.

As part of the first six, CARI was assigned a due diligence team that looked at every aspect of the business for six weeks, “everything,” Schmidle said.

At the end of the exhaustive due diligence process, the teams draw up a report for investors for the final pitch competition

“We luckily came out on top, it was very intense,” Schmidle said. “It confirmed that this group of very smart individuals looked at nearly 100 companies and decided that we were the best potential investment for them. That was the tipping point for us.

Schmidle said every entrepreneur understands that the hardest check to get is the first one, but thanks to the visibility of the grand prize win, the momentum has built, including being named Cool Company and other angels. intervene, bringing the company about to fill its round seed. “It’s been interesting, it’s been crazy actually,” he said.

In the world of startups, Schmidle said sometimes the human element gets lost but he will never forget his purpose.

That mission was reinforced during the San Diego Angels competition when a young man helping out with social media told Schmidle that both of his parents were recovering from opioid addiction. CARI Health really resonated with him and he said if his parents could have had this device, it could have changed his life.

“The reason we’re doing this is to make a difference,” Schmidle said. “It’s not just done to build a tech company, we’re doing it to change people’s lives. This is what motivates me every day.

To learn more, visit carihealth.com

Gladys T. Hensley