inRes 2015 :: Adapttech Adapttech | Reaching the American Market: The Pathway in Finding the Right Prosthetic Match
|After covering more than six American States, driving more than 5500 km, spending more than 500 liters of gasoline, attending almost 40 meetings and making more than 100 direct contacts, Adapttech is ready for the American market, has a clearer value proposition and has different stories to tell. “It is difficult to establish a comparison of Adapttech before and after inRes,” the Adapttech team states. Read more and see how Frederico Carpinteiro and Mario Espinoza, both co-founders of Adapttech, made their project bigger while immersed at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) for seven weeks.
“It is difficult to establish a comparison of Adapttech before and after inRes. Now the business plan is validated and the business model is very clear. That was the game changer.” Adapttech team
What is Adapttech?
The idea of creating Adapttech appeared when Frederico Carpinteiro started studying prosthetics and its fitting problems during his thesis. By that time Mario Espinoza was already working with wearable devices. Fortunately, they met during a course in 2013 and started working together. Adapttech was officially created in February 2015.
Now, as the startup’s website mentions, their “product consists in a smart fitting solution for prosthesis, capable of identifying localized problems within the stump-socket interface, evaluate the level of adaptation and suggest the needed modifications to maximize it.”
As Mario Espinoza stated “Carnegie Mellon University is a worldwide reference and they have the resources, the knowledge, the contacts and the network. It was something we couldn’t refuse.”
When they started working on this, Adapttech’s team was sharing a space with Addvolt, a team that participated in the inRes 2014 edition. Having talked with them about their experience in Pittsburgh made Adapttech’s team realise that “inRes 2015 was the perfect opportunity to validate the product in the American market.” Also the CMU brand is highly recognized, especially in the IT world, as the team mentioned, while in Pittsburgh. “When we send an email and they see Carnegie Mellon, we get an answer”.
“When we send an email and they see Carnegie Mellon, we get an answer.” Adapttech team
Workshops in Portugal and immersion in a fast paced environment in Carnegie Mellon
The training phase started in Portugal and Frederico Carpinteiro states that having Tara Branstad and Dave Mawhinney preparing the team for the American market before they went to Pittsburgh was really interesting”. Mario also mentioned that for a teams like these, made of engineers, and that don’t have many classes in management, the training was important because it gave them valuable information – “we got well prepared to go.” According to João Claro, National Director of the CMU Portugal Program, the teams needed to go from “being a project to being a startup.”
“João Claro told us that we needed to go from being a project to being a startup.” Adapttech team
While at CMU, the team was able to improve and validate different parts of their business model canvas. “We did more in a month in the US than we would have done in a year in Portugal,” team mentions. In the US they concluded that because of the fact that their products could keep record of the evolution of the prosthetics, the technicians and patients could follow-up and be protected in case of litigation. “Technicians could also use this data to justify their decisions to the insurance companies. They saw the value there because this mean less paperwork,” Frederico Carpinteiro stresses.
“We did more in a month in the US than we would have done in a year in Portugal.” Adapttech team
As a team, Adapttech grew a lot during this period at CMU. “Now we know better how it is to work as a team. We know when one needs to step in to help the other,” Mario Espinoza states. “When we came here we started experimenting several ways of approach and now we have kind of a script. We really saw the improvements in meetings,” Frederico Carpinteiro adds.
Incubation at Project Olympus
“At Project Olympus, we had the opportunity to work in an entrepreneurial environment shared with local companies,” Adapttech team stressed. Having a space in this incubator and the help of Kit Needham (Project Olympus Director) was helpful for the development of their project because it allowed them to get primary feedback, facilitate some contacts and have a space to carry out meetings.
Building a strong and valuable network
Mario Espinoza said that reaching the American market was one of the reasons that made them apply to the inRes 2015 edition. The goal was accomplished as they went to several events and valuable meetings. “We had a lot of people asking us for exclusivity. We didn’t know that the prosthetic market was so competitive,” Adapttech team stresses.
“We had a lot of people asking us for exclusivity. We didn’t know that the prosthetic market was so competitive.” Adapttech team
They participated in Investor Round Robin, Launch CMU, BlueTree Screening meetings and several entrepreneurs’ lectures. The team stated that the most relevant contacts made while in the US were with the School of Health Rehabilitation and Sciences (SHRC) from the University of Pittsburgh, the Medical Center for Orthotics and Prosthetics (MCOP), which is the exclusive contractor for lower-limb prosthetics for Walter Reed National Military Center and with whom they will deploy a pilot, Hanger Clinic, Ohio Willow Wood and Veteran Affairs. All in all, the team says they brought to Portugal “a huge network, a lot of potential customers” and the conviction that the American market is the right market for their product.
“We brought to Portugal a huge network, a lot of potential customers and the conviction that the American market is the right market for our product.” Adapttech team
Frederico Carpinteiro identified the timelines and schedules as the biggest difference between the American and Portuguese realities. “It was surprising how easily we could get meetings with CEOs and the way they talk with us like we are at the same level as they are,” he added. Regarding the feedback, they stated that Americans are more “straight to the point” and very enthusiastic about the ideas they find interesting.
In the US, there are also some simple rules, which these Portuguese entrepreneurs followed such as: arrive 10 minutes before the scheduled time, wear appropriate attire and adapt the speech depending on whom one is talking to.
Due to the meetings the team had in several places, Frederico and Mario drove a lot inside the US and even went to Canada. During one of these trips they had the opportunity to visit the Niagara Falls.