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JCCC Stories

Getting to the heart

July 9, 2016

Cardiac screening company wins the Kansas SBDC Emerging Business of Year.

Eric Schroder and David Kuluva

Every year, the Kansas Small Business Development Center chooses an up-and-coming business to honor with its Emerging Business of the Year award. For 2016, Athletic Testing Solutions, owned by Eric Schroder and David Kuluva, accepted the award.

Schroder and Kuluva said they were alarmed by the growing number of kids affected by heart abnormalities, so they decided to design a process for identifying at-risk youths.

How the business works

Athletic Testing Solutions (ATS) offers portable clinics to screen for heart abnormalities. A typical screening, called the ATS Heart Check, includes review of the child's family history, a health questionnaire, blood pressure, EKG and an ultrasound image of the heart.

Within 10 days of the screening, a pediatric cardiologist analyzes the tests and reports the findings to ATS, who in turn supply the reports back to the families and the child’s pediatrician. Equipped with this information, parents and doctors can make informed decisions.

How it got started

To get their business off and running, Kuluva and Schroeder faced two significant obstacles: funding and awareness. The owners invested their own money into the startup, but they knew they needed outside funding.

The tests run by ATS Heart Check typically cost up to $1,500 at a doctor's office, but Kuluva and Schroeder were determined that cost would not be a barrier to any family wanting these tests. The business owners partnered with two non-profits to reduce the cost to $99 per screening, while offering additional financial aid to those who qualify.

To address the awareness issue, ATS needed a strategic marketing plan that informed people about sudden cardiac arrest and other heart abnormalities without frightening them. The owners visited with Elisa Waldman of the Kansas SBDC, which is located on the second floor of the Regnier Center at Johnson County Community College.

How Kansas SBDC helped

Waldman “provid(ed) constant support and assistance in keeping ATS Heart Check focused on priorities and headed in the right direction,” according to Kuluva and Schroeder’s account. She also provided “confidence to move forward despite uncertainty.”

Over the past three years, Kuluva and Schroeder’s persistence and passion have resulted in invitations to set up clinics in many school districts throughout the metropolitan area. Since opening in 2012, ATS has completed over 3,000 ATS Heart Checks, finding abnormalities in approximately 8 percent of those tested (or more than 250 children).