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Entrepreneur Spotlight: Abby Cohen, Andrew Brimer of Sparo Labs

July 24, 2014 • Arch Grant News
Sparo Labs, co-founded by Abby Cohen and Andrew Brimer, focuses on personalized solutions to managing asthma, all through real-time data. From the birth of an idea while at college to a 2013 Arch Grant and beyond, Sparo Labs has come a long way since inception. Abby tells us just how far they have come in a short interview highlighting Abby and Andrew’s recent trip to New York for the first of three Cavendish Global Health Impact Forums.


Where and when did get you get your idea for this business? How did it all start?
Andrew and I were part of an extracurricular group at WashU our junior year of college called Engineer’s Without Border/Engineering World Health. The organization on WashU’s campus consists of a number of different projects. We were both part of that year’s Design Team, which was looking for a problem facing healthcare worldwide to solve. After shadowing and talking to physicians, researchers, and patients as well as scouring the CDC and other healthcare organizations’ websites for data, we saw not only how many people are affected by asthma, but also how big of an impact it has on each patient’s life. About half of the 30 million asthma patients in the United States have uncontrolled asthma, meaning that they struggle with their asthma symptoms daily or weekly because they don’t know what triggers their asthma or they haven’t found the optimal medication regimen to sustain normal lung function – resulting in frequent flare-ups, emergency room visits, and hospitalizations. Our goal is to empower patients to understand and proactively manage their asthma so that they can discover how it feels to breath easily.


What do you think best educated you for running your company?
Andrew and I were fortunate to have a number of educational opportunities, including mentors through all types of programs in St. Louis like iTEN and Arch Grants, Cliff Holekamp’s Hatchery course at WashU, access to feedback from competitions and funding organizations like the Olin Cup and Arch Angels, and the Pipeline Entrepreneurial Fellowship. I think it is a combination of different opportunities that have prepared us thus far. However, as Sparo Labs continues to develop and evolve, Andrew and I, as leaders, will need to continue seeking out relevant learning opportunities to make sure we evolve with the company.


Tell us about the Cavendish Global Health Impact Forum. How do you see that impacting you and Sparo Labs? 
The Cavendish Global Health Impact Forums are a series of three international health forums throughout the year that take place around the world. These Forums bring together leading family investment offices from around the world actively seeking well-conceived impact investment, grant giving, and philanthropy opportunities within health and the life sciences that have the potential for major advances in disease prevention, diagnosis, treatment and medical outcomes. Andrew and I attended the first Forum this past May at the United Nations in New York, which was a priceless experience and opportunity for Sparo Labs to present and converse with some of the leading scientific and business minds in the healthcare space. We are looking forward to attending and presenting at the next forum in Oxford and learning more about potential opportunities in the United Kingdom.


What most excites you about your company?
The ability to work with a fantastic, dedicated team to create an engaging and meaningful experience that will transform how patients manage their asthma.