Last week the summer session of Memphis Bioworks Zeroto510 medical device startup program took a moment to relax and mingle with other local business leaders, entrepreneurs and potential investors at Wiseacre Brewery on Broad Avenue. At the event Zeroto510 companies shared their elevator pitches.
First up was Michael Ollukaren who explained how his company, FlexSpark, was working to prevent deep vein thrombosis, a problem many recovering hospital patients must contend with as they heal from whatever sent them to the hospital. Unfortunately, many patients do not receive prophylaxis for deep vein thrombosis, and even those that do must use the current technology, which is loud, noisy, hot, and a pain to deal with for patients and staff. Deep vein thrombosis occurs when a blood clot forms in a deep vein, typically the legs, when one is immobile for long period. It can cause leg pain and swelling, but may be asymptomatic. The blood clots in veins can break loose, travel through the bloodstream and lodge in the lungs, blocking blood flow, which is called a pulmonary embolism. This can be deadly. FlexSpark is working on new technology to prevent deep vein thrombosis, improve patient outcomes and satisfaction, and reduce staff labor.
Michael was Srinath “Sri” Vaddepally kicked off his talk with a focus on the importance of communication, especially in the care setting, where information is needed about patients being out of bed, hungry, thirsty, in danger or pain, and so on. That is why Sri came to Zeroto510, to spend the summer working on a communications solution called RistCall, a system that helps hospitals to improve patient safety and satisfaction scores through wireless, wearable call bell devices. This is a hospital “smartwatch,” he explained, that can be used to track patient care and location. The device can be ised to call for medication, bath, nourishment, and more. Ristcall is working to prevent falls, improve patient outcome and satisfaction, and reduce staff labor.
Josh Herwig pitched another wearable device, this time for outside the hospital, a product of his company SOMAVAC. SOMAVAC’s pilot project is a post-surgical device that changes the way drainage is managed after major surgeries. Current drains are placed for weeks to eliminate fluid buildup after surgery; they are attached to suction bulbs in order to remove, collect, and measure fluids. Problems include efficacy, clogs, and what many patients describe as, “the worst part of their recovery process.” In the U.S. alone, half a million patients receive drains each year, and SOMAVAC believes their wearable ultra-low profile, low-power continuous suction device that is easy to conceal under clothing will eliminate the bulbs all together and replace them with clean, safe, and discreet disposable reservoirs that will save the healthcare system up to a half a billion dollars and restore patients dignity.
Ashley Moy powerfully pitched for Cast21, a revolutionary new waterproof, open cast that is applied while still flexible and then hardened in the appropriate position. This lightweight, lattice-structure cast is breathable and waterproof, eliminating some of the disadvantages of traditional casts. Its design also allows for the integration of electronic therapies to decrease healing time. The cast supply market is already over $1 billion dollars annually and is expected to rise to $2.4 billion by 2020. Cast21 is working to decrease healing time, improve patient outcome, comfort and satisfaction.
The ZeroTo510 Medical Device Accelerator focuses on leveraging key regional strengths of the Memphis area: biomedical research and medical device manufacturing. The goal of ZeroTo510 is to help medical device startups navigate the startup process, refine their business models and complete the Food and Drug Administration’s 510(k) premarket notification filing. Zeroto510 sponsors donated over $100,000 in legal fees to create the documents.
In Phase I, the companies receive a $50,000 cash investment and $50,000 in services and perks. The cash investment is structured as a Simple Agreement for Future Equity (SAFE), as conceived by Y-Combinator. Where the company is asked to reserve 5 percent equity in lieu of cash for mentors and/or board members they need to bring on to help ensure success. In Phase II, the investors may invest additional dollars based on agreed-upon milestones. The initial investments come locally from Innova Memphis and MB Ventures.