In this Entrepreneur Spotlight we are focusing on another startup that was selected as one of the 6 finalists for the 2016 AccelerateBaltimore program – Fusiform, Inc. Fusiform, Inc. develops a software solution for use in making the design and fabrication of orthotic devices better and faster. Fusiform, Inc. is located in Oakland, Maryland, and was founded in 2015.
We interviewed Param Shah, Co-Founder and CEO of Fusiform to learn more about his company, their product, and how they are transforming the medical world.
1. How did your team meet and when did you first see the need for improvements of orthotic devices?
The story of Fusiform begins in a rural village in India. In high school, I started an international nonprofit called the Lotus Life Foundation (www.lotuslifefoundation.org) which provides orthotic and prosthetic medical devices to children with disabilities in rural India. Our ultimate goal is to remove the stigma surrounding disability in India.
While shadowing clinicians in India providing our treatment, I realized that the process was incredibly inefficient. Because of outdated practices still being used, it took nearly a month to provide an orthotic device to the patient. By the time the device reached the patient, he or she either trashed the ill-fitting device or wore it and had pressure sores all over their limbs.
Coming back to the United States, I witnessed the same problem and realized that there must be a much simpler and more efficient way of getting better orthotics to people. My co-founder Alex Mathews and I received the same scholarship to attend Johns Hopkins University, and after relaying my idea to him, he realized he had the necessary expertise to make the idea a reality. So we started Fusiform.
2. Tell us about FusiformCAST?
FusiformCAST (CAST) is a digital platform that allows clinics and custom fabricators to collaborate on producing a device. Currently, a device is made from a hand-casting process, an orthotist spends an hour wrapping plaster around a patient’s leg only to outsource hand-crafting the device to a custom fabricator and getting a device in return 2-3 weeks later. We achieve 3x efficiency with CAST: allowing a clinic to 3D scan a patient (<10 minutes) and collaborate with a fabricator through annotations on the model and live messaging. We plan to launch this product this May, and have already signed on partners to go to market with.
3. What have you learned since the start of the AccelerateBaltimore program that you have incorporated into your business model?
I believe the single requirement to be an entrepreneur is the ability to constantly learn. Take the pitch deck for example, the window through which the world sees how a startup functions. AccelerateBaltimore has helped me take my deck through countless iterations, providing new insights that have not only shaped the visuals of the company, but the overall mission and execution as well. AccelerateBaltimore made me realize the importance of the Maryland entrepreneurial network. The greatest gift they have given me is to include me in the family.
4. Who specifically is your product and solution geared towards, and can you tell us how someone has found success with it since you first started?
Our product and solution hits the triple bottom line. Working with orthotics and prosthetics directly, we streamline their processes, and will allow them to one day make a device while the patient is sitting in the waiting room. Patients are positively impacted as well. They have the ability to receive a new device and repair their old one, without the hassle that comes from the current process. Finally, our company has always strove to do the one thing medical companies these days unfortunately embrace: make a viable and sustainable medical solution that reduces waste coming from the clinic. Our devices can be reused by adding or removing new components and the backbone can be used in between patients easily.
So far, we have worked with 4 clinics and 3 custom fabricators in order to develop our solution, and they are confident our product will rethink the way we create orthotics.
5. What milestones do you hope to achieve in 2016?
In 2016, we plan to launch our first product FusiformCAST, starting with 3 major custom fabrication partners and integrating into their client clinics. We will also finish prototyping and testing of our hardware device, FusiformSHAPE, which we plan to release late 2016.