Two years is a lifetime for an entrepreneur. In two years, it's guaranteed that nearly everything about a startup company will change.
In two years, a young company can find itself stranded in the so-called “valley of death” where about two-thirds of new companies falter and fail.
Or, in the same two years, the company can be among the other one-third of startups, accomplishing critical milestones and moving the business toward sustainability and growth.
Making milestones is the story of Sway Medical LLC of Tulsa, a software firm that provides FDA-cleared, clinical grade mobile diagnostics.
i2E began working with Sway (formerly named Capacity Sports) more than two years ago when founder and CEO Chase Curtiss, an entrepreneur and clinical exercise physiologist, came to us with an innovative idea.
While earning his master's degree, Chase had run concussion testing for athletes. The equipment was cumbersome, not easily accessible and required a trained operator. Chase figured out a way to enable the sensors inside an iPhone to measure and monitor a person's sense of balance, assessing the risk of concussions in a significantly more timely and cost effective way.
We helped him develop his business plan and secure $50,000-plus in prototype funding. Chase knew the market, found a solution that would scale and had a mindset to bootstrap. We thought the business had a reasonable chance of success.
What we didn't imagine was just how much progress this company would achieve in less than 36 months.
Sway Medical has secured FDA-approval as a diagnostic tool and outcomes measurement tool of multiple skeletal and neurological dysfunctions. The company forged a strategic partnership with Impact Applications (the leading firm in diagnosing concussions), has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and secured $750K Series A funding, including $300K from i2E-managed OK Angel Sidecar Fund.
Perhaps most significantly, Sway Medical expanded its target market from athletic concussions to a much broader market with their balance tests, which fits right into the accountable care direction for Medicare/Medicaid reimbursable services.
“It's been an amazing two years,” Chase said. “We are going to shift the way these diagnostics are done. People have no idea what is possible.”
Sway Medical is up to seven employees and growing. The Sway Balance application goes on sale this month in the iTunes store.
It's amazing what a focused entrepreneur can accomplish in two years with a bit of help. At i2E, it's why we do what we do.
Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state's technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.
DID YOU KNOW?
Football is the most common sport with concussion risk for males (75 percent chance). Soccer is the most common sport with concussion risk for females (50 percent chance).