Student app manages wait times in hospitals

Tandon senior Yasir Ali was was a finalist and Audience Choice Award winner at the 2014-2015 NYU Entrepreneur Challenge.

In a struggle against long hospital wait times, Tandon senior Yasir Ali launched MedTimers this past April to help medical facilities efficiently manage patient flow and publish real-time wait times for patients.

The young entrepreneur was a finalist and Audience Choice Award winner at the 2014-2015 NYU Entrepreneur Challenge. Ali said trying to balance the ambitious startup with college life was a time-consuming but rewarding journey.

“MedTimers was not an overnight idea,” Ali said. “The entire creation of startup took months of research, reiteration, customer discovery and a bit of destiny.”

In the early stages, Ali realized a problem with his company was hospitals would not reveal their patient flows without incentive. A chance interview led Ali to refocus MedTimers’ goal from simply publishing real-time wait times to helping hospitals optimize their time by providing a patient flow management solution.

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“As the ball was rolling with with my technical co-founder, I decided to apply to an internship at Two Toasters; I really hoped that I would get that position, but little did I know that this interview was going to offer something much greater,” Ali said. “Midway through the interview, the interviewer had told me of his UPenn roommate that was also working on a healthcare startup called 1DocWay, and informed that he can get us in touch.”

The chance encounter also helped him locate his very first customer, a hospital in Saint Louis.

When discussing the origin of MedTimers, Ali credits the NYU Entrepreneurs Challenge as the genesis of his startup.

“I heard about the NYU $200K Entrepreneur Challenge and decided to give it a shot,” Ali said. “I wasn’t sure as to what I was getting myself into, but I went ahead and applied for the competition.”

This year’s Entrepreneur’s Challenge kicked off last month; participants will spend the next eight months trying to make the awards ceremony in May.

CAS sophomore Alisha Jadhav said she believes that MedTimers can help reduce hospital wait times, which will help her also as a future medical worker. Jadhav said Ali’s success, from winning awards on the Entrepreneur Challenge to being featured by Daymond John from Shark Tank, will make the company a hit.

“I am very inspired to see that even someone so young can implement something so innovative and revolutionary,” Jadhav said. “Medtimers would take the stress off a lot of patients and doctors, leading to better overall care and attention towards the patient. As a future medical worker I think if a system like this is in place by that time, facilities would move a lot more efficiently.”

Cynthia Franklin, the adjunct professor of Entrepreneurship at the NYU Stern School of Business and organizer of the annual NYU Entrepreneurs Challenge feels although the competition is diverse, finalists — including Ali — share very similar traits from year to year.

“The primary similarity we see is perseverance and a willingness to test and refine their ideas,” Franklin said. “Teams that advance to the finals are those that are able to demonstrate early signs of market acceptance.”

Ali has his own advice for innovative young minds who dream of creating their own startup.

“If there’s one lesson I could tell young entrepreneurs is to create their own footsteps,” Ali said. “Don’t be scared to make your own story. And, don’t be scared to try new things. Change comes from within yourself and the right mindset is the first step to success.”

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Oct. 13 print edition. Email Christine Wang at [email protected]

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