Although she only started participating in sports in high school — several years after most serious athletes — Ivonna Dumanyan, a Duke-educated engineer and the CEO of Durham’s Fathom AI, was immediately addicted.
Along with the five varsity letters she earned, however, her passion for high school sports left her with a torn hamstring and quad that she wasn’t able to treat properly because of her family’s low income. That didn’t change until Ivonna arrived at college, where she rowed crew.
“Prior to coming to Duke I never really had the insurance to figure out how to take care of (my injuries),” Dumanyan said. “This was the first time I was really going through proper rehab and it was a really eye-opening experience.”
Through her rehabilitation journey she saw not only how important rehab is to an injured athlete but also how vital it is to prepare for exercise correctly so an athlete isn’t injured in the first place.
That’s why Dumanyan founded Fathom AI with Co-Founder Gabby Levac, a former Duke track star in the 800 and 1,600 meters. (The pair are also engaged.) Fathom AI is centered on artificial intelligence technology that helps athletes avoid and recover from injuries by creating comprehensive workout plans based on injury history, type of training and the location of soreness.
The product is available as both a free app and an upgraded version which syncs with three biometric sensors that collect data to further personalize the experience and performance of the app.
The mention of artificial intelligence and personalization sometimes makes the product seem confusing to some, but Dumanyan said the simplicity of Fathom’s platform is what makes it great.
In fact, she said, ”Some of our youngest users are around 12 years old.”
In the spring of 2018 Fathom raised $3M from investors, and later won “Fundraiser of the Year” at the first annual American Underground Undies award ceremony last December.
Dumanyan said it was difficult at first to find the right investors because of the way some perceived her, but ultimately she found partners whose values aligned with hers.
“I’m a very young woman, I’m a very ‘female’ woman, I’m a minority because I’m both ethnic and gay,” she said. “I never felt those things more intensely than when I was fundraising.”
With the $3M investment, Fathom is on its way to serious growth in 2019, and part of that growth for Dumanyan is finding a way to spread her technology to lower-income athletes that remind her of where she came from.
“We’re really focused on making technologies that really democratize access to very important information and concepts that have been considerably harder to reach, and certainly harder to access, than you might think,” she said.
As the company grows, Dumanyan would like the company to become a go-to self-care engine, encapsulating precision fitness, nutrition and sleep.
“My hope is that in the next five years we can be the technology that changes the landscape of this industry to be more focused on precision health and precision fitness,” she said.
As Fathom AI approaches its five-year anniversary, Dumanyan hopes the company can become profitable in 2019, but her main focus is on making sure low-income athletes like she once was never need to leave an injury improperly treated again.
Says Dumanyan, with conviction: “If I can do anything to help kids, to help individuals, that are in a less fortunate situation than myself avoid that—prevent that—it is all worth it, goddamnit.”