An article about us has been published in Forbes. We are thrilled to share a link where you can read the interview with the founder of MEBSTER, Michal Gloger.
In the article, you will learn how originated the idea of creating a passive exoskeleton UNILEXA and MEBSTER's future plans.
You can find the whole article on the following link: https://forbes.cz/kupredu-vpred-cesky-startup-vytvoril-pomucku-diky-ktere-mohou-lide-na-voziku-znovu-chodit/
Bellow, you can read the article translated to English:
Stand on your feet. Take a step or maybe two. With that, the Czech startup MEBSTER is helping people who are dependent on a wheelchair. They also managed to reduce the device's price, which allows people with damaged spinal cord to walk again.
"I have worked around the world with paraplegic aids for several years, and I came across a huge paradox where companies developed as many sophisticated technologies as possible for millions of people who often get financially burdensome as a result of an accident or injury that damaged their spinal cord," the founder of the startup, Michal Gloger, who previously helped with the development of medical devices in research centers in Brazil or Japan describes the motivation of founding MEBSTER.
Having that in mind, he came up with the idea to create a passive version of the exoskeleton without any drive. It contains a mechanism for connecting joints, thanks to which a person can walk without the command from the brain reaching the lower limbs. "Basically, one puts the device on one's feet and, by tilting the body slightly forward and sideways, the aid automatically causes it to step forward. The moment the patient stands on his standing leg, the other automatically swings," explains Gloger. It should be noted that, as with other exoskeletons, the patient cannot use them without crutches when walking with this aid.
Thanks to removing all drives and simplifying the entire production process, he and his developers managed to create a product available for 200 to 300 thousand Czech crowns. Such aids typically cost up to 4 million. "Behind each product is a complex development system, certification processes, patent searches, and detailed market research. And all this is, of course, very costly and, as a result, it forms the final price", says the founder. Therefore, in MEBSTER, they decided to remove everything from the process and the product itself that is not absolutely necessary.
In addition, they set up the whole process so that insurance companies could cover the aids. "Other companies usually design a super-sophisticated system, then they start to decide to whom they will sell it. And few people in wheelchairs are millionaires. That's why we made it different from the beginning", explains Gloger. "Therefore, the equipment for home use is not manufactured by us, but by our partner, orthotic-prosthetic centers, to whom we hand over a comprehensive set of components. This principle has been working here for many years, and insurance companies understand it. Hence, we expect in January the first exoskeletons paid for by the insurance company", he says.
The product officially entered the Czech market this year. However, in the spring of last year, it received the CzechInvest agency's support, ČSOB, within the Start It acceleration program and its first angel investor. The Moravian-Silesian Innovation Center has supported the project since its inception. Now MEBSTER is being approached by other investors. Thanks to the development experience, the company has a clear financial plan and dares to invest a million euros, which will help with exports to Western markets. The goal is Germany, France, or Italy.
To keep the business with a product that the competition sells twenty times more expensive, MEBSTER must reach as many customers as possible. "The ambition is to enter foreign markets and sell hundreds of pieces. We will stay in the Czech Republic and do as much as we can for our people, but from a business point of view, it is a very small market, so we have to go out as well," says Gloger.
The company currently counts its customers in units. Before the patient can get the device at home, he must undergo special training in a rehabilitation center, lasting up to several months. "It is a very individual process. If you live actively, you are used to playing sports every day, so it will be much easier because you have the will, the habit, and you can not imagine being sitting all day".
It is often challenging to explain to people accustomed to a sedentary lifestyle that it is necessary to walk. Otherwise, the course is devastating: the heart does not pump blood into all parts of the body as it should, digestion stops working, inflammation occurs. And the person will gradually get used to it and stop bothering him or herself", describes Gloger. "The fundamental factor of everything is the willingness. If he/she doesn't have it, it doesn't matter if he/she has an exoskeleton for 4 million or ours for 200.000 CZK".
Author: Victor Cabral