Great days require restful nights. But there’s an inherent issue in analyzing how well you sleep: you’re unconscious.

Enter Resonea.

Founded by cardiologists Sanjiv Narayan and Ruchir Sehra, the Scottsdale-based startup and fall 2017 Arizona Innovation Challenge awardee, works to improve access to the diagnosis, treatment, and management of sleep-related issues.

Its mobile software system - called Drowzle - monitors, records, and analyzes users’ breathing patterns while they sleep and stores their sound files to secure cloud-based servers, allowing users to track their sleep-related health risks over time. Each morning, users receive the results from their prior night’s sleep, along with tips and resources to help them understand their sleep health risks.

Sleep apnea is widespread, according to Neal Beswick, the company’s vice president of business development: 24 million Americans suffer from the disease, while an additional more than 40 million show risk factors for it. More than 85 percent of cases are undiagnosed – a gap Resonea is working to narrow.

“Ultimately, we thought that software and technology could be used to improve this and put the management of sleep issues in the hands of patients,” Beswick says. “We’re bombarded with pillows and mattresses and Fitbits attempting to tempt people to track their sleep, but these are somewhat meaningless metrics. We’re adding some real medical science to the equation.”

Setting up shop in the Valley of the Sun, where the company’s founders live, also made sense: the company was enticed by the Phoenix metro area’s low cost of living and high quality life (especially relative to other tech hubs), and it enjoys a strong partnership with Arizona State University’s engineering department.

The Resonea team caught wind of the Arizona Innovation Challenge in early 2017 and participated in both the spring and fall rounds before being selected as an awardee. Throughout the year, the company’s story became tighter and more tangible, and they were better prepared for their second AIC experience.

“There was a lot of self-improvement” as a result of Resonea’s first AIC round, according to Beswick. “There’s a huge amount of scrutiny from (AIC) judges on condensing your story and giving the most amount of information about what you do with the least amount of words,” he says. “It really improved the telling of our value proposition. It’s not human nature to accept criticism easily, but as a group we’re pretty low-ego. We were able to take the criticism that we obviously weren't telling the story well enough – and that improved us tremendously as a management team.”

And as a medical device company, Resonea has found the connections they’ve forged with other finalists to be invaluable.

“If you look at the six awardees, the technologies are very different,” he says. “But when you’re in the same room with those companies, you start to make connections with people you wouldn’t otherwise – and anytime you make a connection with another entrepreneur it strengthens the whole community.”