Thunderbirds Transform Medical Triage in Emerging Markets

David Talenfeld

David Talenfeld

Alumnus (Class of 2012)

I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur when I became a Thunderbird in 2011. I took every opportunity available to make that dream a reality, enrolling in courses at the Walker Center for Global Entrepreneurship. Ten years later, my companies have raised nearly $17,000,000 from public and private sources, and my last company was acquired by a NYSE-listed firm. I remember two important questions from Thunderbird faculty:

1. “Are you sure you want to be an entrepreneur?”

2. “I started my first company at age 40. Where would I be now if I’d started when I was your age?”

Looking back on it, those two questions summarize my experience. Entrepreneurship is the most difficult path but also the most rewarding one.
Over the years, I’ve taken on more and more technically challenging projects with increasingly global ramifications. My company Botanisol Analytics now makes the world’s first autonomous disease detector, a laser-based system that detects diseases with up to 96% accuracy in about one minute, according to the latest 100 patient clinical validation data set. Rugged, portable, and automated, the system is ideal for transforming medical triage in locations with poor infrastructure and a shortage of medical personnel.

We don’t often think of launching state of the art medical devices in developing markets, but in many ways, serving the people with the greatest need first can propel the company forward. Smaller markets have a limited number of stakeholders to please, a modest cost of setup, and a speed to market that can’t be matched in the United States. It’s deeply gratifying to learn that you can do well by doing good. There’s tremendous untapped wealth in developing countries looking for investment opportunities that benefit their own people.

Botanisol Analytics is now engaged in a field test for the Ministry of Health in the Republic of Namibia. If successful, the project comes with a $10,000,000 order for equipment to be deployed immediately.

In support of this and other important initiatives, I turned to Guy Groff from the Thunderbird career office, who introduced me to Ayse Ulgen, PhD, a T-Bird from the Class of 2017. While I have a JD and MBA from the University of Arizona and an MGM from Thunderbird, Ayse has an MGM from Thunderbird and a PhD in biostatistics from Stonybrook University. “Our skillsets complement each other,” Ayse always tells me, “and our work together is a great example of how Thunderbird fosters collaborations among people from different places, cultures, skillsets, and languages.”

Ultimately, Ayse and I hope to give back to future Thunderbirds. We’re discussing means of contributing to the school endowment with a third T-Bird grad and look forward to creating some learning opportunities through internships for students this summer.

To follow Botanisol Analytics, our Facebook page can be found here. If you’re interested in an internship with Botanisol Analytics, please reach out to Zach Brooks at

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Disclaimer: The Botanisol test has not been reviewed, approved, or authorized by the FDA and is not currently available in the United States.

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