Vytal: These Young Entrepreneurs Came Up With A Brain Disease Detection Company

By Amit Chowdhry • Oct 12, 2023

Vytal is a company that allows for brain health evaluation in minutes, which could impact the way that doctors look for cognitive decline. Utilizing a novel gaze-tracking algorithm, Vytal is now driving the democratization of early detection and longitudinal evaluation of brain diseases on the basis of quantifiable ocular biometrics. Pulse 2.0 interviewed Vytal founders Rohan Kalahasty and Sai Mattapalli – who launched the company during their sophomore year of high school.

Background Of Vytal And The Founders

What is the background of the company and the founders? Here is how Kalahasty and Mattapalli described the company:

“Vytal’s current product is NeurOS, which can quantify brain health in minutes. In the past, there have been 40,000+ scientific articles that link changes in eye movement biometrics to neurodegenerative disease. However, these biometrics are only able to be calculated via glasses that cost upwards of $3,000+. We have completely streamlined this process leveraging a meta-learning approach to perform state-of-the-art gaze tracking from either a laptop or smartphone. Vytal has raised $1.3 million in investments at a current valuation of $12.5 million.”

“Vytal was founded by Rohan Kalahasty and Sai Mattapalli during their sophomore year of high school.”

“Rohan has extensive experience in ophthalmology, artificial intelligence, and the startup field. He interned at Harvard Medical School’s Ophthalmology AI lab, where he published three papers and incubated NeurOS, as well as at Roivant Sciences, where he served as a tech lead for a new incubation.”

“Sai has extensive experience in both the neuroscience and startup fields, having interned at a neurodegenerative disease research lab at Georgetown as well as at Quantbase (YC W23) where he led growth. Sai also won the Wharton Finance competition, leading his team to a 1st place win globally.”

“Together, we have covered all the knowledge bases needed to build in the med-tech field despite us being just high schoolers.”


In a heartwarming tale of youthful innovation, two high school students from Virginia, Rohan Kalahasty and Sai Mattapalli, are defying the norms of their age group. Rather than fretting over college applications or senior year sports, these teenagers have co-founded Vytal, a medical device startup dedicated to utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) and connected devices to democratize healthcare pre-screening capabilities. Their mission? To identify ocular biomarkers that can be indicative of various brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. #artificialintelligence #aiinhealthcare #health

♬ original sound – AIPRM there’s a Prompt for dat

“To read more about our backgrounds, visit our LinkedIn:

Sai Mattapalli

Rohan Kalahasty

Formation Of Vytal

How did the idea for the company come together? Mattapalli said:

“Building off of his research at the Harvard Ophthalmology AI Lab, my co-founder Rohan Kalahasty came to me with an outline of what he envisioned NeurOS to initially be. After being a tech lead at Roivant, where he incubated one of Roivant’s newest incubations and led business development, he decided to push NeurOS into a startup where the technology could have maximum impact.”

“Based on my understanding of the parallels between eye movement and brain health, I readily agreed to work with him on furthering NeurOS. My prior experience at Quantbase (YC W23) and working on the business growth teams at other startups taught me that the best way to democratize technological advancement is through form of entrepreneurship. In alignment with his vision for NeurOS, Rohan and I then went on to found Vytal.”

Favorite Memory

What has been your favorite memory working for the company so far? Mattapalli shared:

“Being a team of high school and college students, our favorite memory running Vytal has been being able to form connections with the team past just work relationships. Possibly attributed to our young age, we’ve been able to cultivate a team dynamic that’s lighthearted and playful while still maintaining diligent progression and rigorous deadlines.”

“Some other memories, which looking back were particularly funny, were the many moments when Vytal affected our high school lives. There were numerous times when we were forced to take meetings with investors in bathrooms, sneak out in the middle of classes to Uber to local pitches, and even fall asleep in class as a result of the long hours we put in.”

Challenges Faced

What challenges have the founders faced in building the company, and has the current macroeconomic climate affected the company? Mattapalli acknowledged:

“The current macroeconomic climate has played a large role in influencing the way Vytal has grown in the past few months. High interest rates, bank failures, and more have led to startup funding being at an all-time low in the United States. To circumvent this, we decided to target international investors, specifically VCs from India, who were in the midst of a boom in startup culture overseas. Our strategy turned out to become successful, as all the money we’ve raised has come largely from international investors who weren’t as aversive to large early-stage investments as US-based investors currently are.”

Evolution Of Vytal’s Technology

How has the company’s technology evolved since launching? Mattapalli noted:

“Since launching, we’ve pivoted in several ways akin to any other startup. Our first major pivot was deciding to switch from diagnosing neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s to simply outputting ocular biometrics that neurologists can then interpret. We decided to make this pivot as the world is largely still skeptical of technology making medical diagnostics and we also wanted to keep some power still in the hands of doctors so they wouldn’t directly oppose implementation of NeurOS.”

“Furthermore, although we still plan on building out a mobile application, we decided to pivot for the time being and focus on ironing out the web application version of NeurOS first as we decided a laptop-based implementation would be easier to beta test and made sense logically in terms of code progression.”

Significant Milestones

What have been some of the company’s most significant milestones? Mattapalli cited:

“Closing our pre-seed at $100k around the middle of July. Raising $1.2M for our seed round at a pre-money valuation of $12.5M. Having Dr. Anita Gupta, NYC’s 2023 Chief Surgeon, join our board of directors. We also recently had Dr. Sergeui Netessine, Vice Dean of Innovation at Wharton Business School, join our advisory board. We recently released the NeurOS beta list which reached 300+ people in just 7 days.”

Differentiation From The Competition

What differentiates the company from its competition? Mattapalli affirmed:

“Other than being run by current high schoolers seniors (Rohan and Sai), from a technological perspective, what primarily differentiates Vytal from our competition is how we implement gaze tracking technology (which has existed for ages) in the field of medical diagnostics (something that can only be done with $3k+ headsets).”

Core Products

What are the company’s core products and features? Mattapalli explained:

“Our core product, as stated, is NeurOS. NeurOS will first be released as a web app and then as a smartphone app. NeurOS first walks users through a calibration step where our novel gaze tracking algorithm adjusts to the user’s lighting conditions, head tilt, distance from the screen, etc. Users are then walked through 4 tests: fixation, smooth pursuit, pro-saccadic, and anti-saccadic (examples of the tests featured on our website). Following the completion of the 4 tests, specific ocular biometrics like saccadic latency are outputted and sent to the user’s doctor, who can then interpret the results to make a diagnosis.”

Total Addressable Market

What total addressable market (TAM) size is the company pursuing? Mattapalli assessed:

“The 2 billion people who are at risk for neurologic disease around the world.”

Future Company Goals

What are some of the company’s future company goals? Mattapalli concluded:

“Our ultimate goal is to have NeurOS be a ubiquitous piece of technology on the medical scale and impact billions of people by allowing for the early diagnosis of neurological diseases/conditions. Some more immediate goals include fully fleshing out and releasing our applications. We are also looking to market heavily to clinical trials in the neurodegenerative disease space because they need a democratized way of evaluating the efficacy of new treatments. This is a quickly growing industry because of the recent developments in neurodegenerative disease drug discovery (i.e. Lecanemab was approved by the FDA in early 2023).”