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Spring Garden entrepreneur gunning for $100K investment

Jason Addy
York Dispatch

When AOL founder Steve Case’s Rise of the Rest bus tour rolls into York City next month, Spring Garden Township resident Madris Tomes will be the sole York County resident vying for his $100,000 investment.

Tomes will pitch her Device Events business to Case and venture capitalist J.D. Vance during the Rise of the Rest competition at 4 p.m. Oct. 10 at the Harrisburg Midtown Arts Center. 

Rise of the Rest founder and former AOL CEO Steve Case.

She is one of nine business leaders from the York-Lancaster-Harrisburg region selected to pitch their companies and plans in the hopes of landing a six-figure investment from Case by the end of the day, according to the list of finalists released Thursday, Sept. 14. 

The finalists, selected from a field of 80 applicants, also include four companies from Lancaster and one each from Harrisburg, Carlisle, State College and Phoenixville in Chester County. 

More:Local entrepreneurs could win $100K investment from former AOL head

The Rise of the Rest tour is a nationwide effort to find businesses and ideas outside of main innovation hubs in major cities.

Over seven days, Case will invest a half-million dollars, dropping a $100,000 investment on one company in each of five different metropolitan areas.

Device Events Founder and CEO Madris Tomes

The weeklong bus tour kicks off with a tour of downtown York City and the pitch competition in Harrisburg on Oct. 10 before moving on to Ann Arbor, Michigan; Indianapolis; Columbus, Ohio; and the Green Bay and Fox River Valley region of Wisconsin.

Saving lives: After being named as York County’s only finalist, Tomes said she can’t wait for the opportunity to show off Device Events, a subscription-based service that allows hospitals, patients and doctors, among others, to identify problems with medical devices much earlier than federal agencies can issue a warning or recall.

“I’m so excited when I get to show this to people and give demonstrations,” Tomes said. “It’s going to make a difference. I just have to get it out there in front of people so they can see that.”

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While working at the federal Food and Drug Administration between 2012 and 2014, Tomes said she began to notice it took hundreds, or even thousands, of deaths linked to a particular medical device before the FDA would issue a recall.

By pulling in data from the FDA and other agencies, Tomes, who serves as CEO of Device Events, is able to pinpoint malfunction and injury trends for risky medical devices and provide a warning to patients, doctors and hospitals who use those devices. 

There are roughly 6.4 million reports on medical device malfunctions, including more than 200,000 reports on hip-related devices, but the FDA’s databases only let users search up to 500 reports at a time, making it impossible to see any trends, Tomes said.

Device Events’ algorithms and massive datasets are “absolutely” saving lives, Tomes said, because they can show patterns and trends that FDA officials can’t see as they read each report one-by-one.

“The longer that this isn’t being used by hospitals, the more patients are getting harmed,” Tomes said. 

$100K boost: A $100,000 investment from Case would go a long way for Device Events, for which Tomes is the only full-time employee.

Now primarily using FDA data to locate trends, Tomes said she would use the money to expand Device Events’ algorithms to examine data from the Centers for Disease Control  and Prevention and the Veterans Health Administration, an arm of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Tomes said that money would also help her expand Device Events’ clientele, as many of the conferences where potential customers gather are often cost $5,000 to $10,000 to attend.

When Tomes heads to Harrisburg on Oct. 10, she will have the full support of the York County Economic Alliance, YCEA President and CEO Kevin Schreiber said in an email.

The nine companies selected as finalists are “a stellar cast of businesses” that will showcase southcentral Pennsylvania’s business and technology sector to Case, Vance and the nation, Schreiber said. 

“We believe these companies are incredibly representative of the diverse, creative innovation occurring daily in our region and could not be more proud and excited for Oct. 10,” Schreiber said.