Home is where the startup is

Though called home to California, biotech founder Vedang Kothari ’12, MEM ’13, is too busy thriving in Cleveland’s startup scene

Vedang Kothari ’12, MEM ’13, came to the Case School of Engineering from San Jose to earn his degree in biomedical engineering. Many people, including his business-owning father, have tried to coax him back to California with job offers.

KothariLucky for Northeast Ohio, Kothari stayed to apply his entrepreneurial instincts near campus. Last August, he helped launch, MuReva, a biotech startup offering a promising light therapy for people suffering a side effect of cancer treatments. The company quickly raised $1.3 million in capital and attracted another $1.7 million in government grants, Crain’s Cleveland Business reported.

Kothari credits his early success to a local startup support network that puts collaboration over competition.

“What I like about Northeast Ohio is that it’s a very close-knit community where people are very willing to help,” he told Crain’s. “I think in other places, like Silicon Valley, it’s very competitive. Whereas here...everyone I’ve talked to has been very willing to go out of their way to support us, even though there’s no direct financial gain for them.”

MuReva sprang from Lumitex, a Strongsville lighting solutions company where Kothari interned as a student. He began working on a phototherapy treatment for oral mucositis, which causes painful ulcers in one’s mouth and throat.

MuReva is nearing clinical trials on a mouthpiece designed to bathe the oral cavity in healing light.  KothariThe startup was supported in its endeavors by local business accelerators like BioEnterprise and Jumpstart Inc. It also had the advantage of Kothari as president and CEO.

“He’s a really smart guy,” Lumitex CEO Peter Broer told Crain’s. “He’s a leader. He’s a natural. As one of the investors said, ‘He’s right out of central casting.’”