October 2019 was unforgettable for Matthias Hutchiasson. He was injured in a full-fledged crash and got stuck in his car days before his wedding. Fortunately, he was not hurt. At the time, they along with his partners Luis and Moisés Campos, had finished raising $1.3 million for their start-up, with the fund Invexor Venture Partners. After this operation, he packed his bags for his honeymoon, and while there, he discovered the spread of social disease in Chile. I didn’t even know that a global pandemic was about to happen.
But this startup, Trainfes, was born six years ago, by the Campos brothers, both originally from Chillán, who received their higher education in Concepcion. Lewis, a kinesiologist, believes that there are too few technological tools to care for his patients, especially those with spinal cord injuries, which is one of his specialties. He worked with Moisés, during nights and weekends, on a prototype intended for rehabilitation. The result was a device capable of sustaining paraplegics who would otherwise not be able to stand.
They had to further develop, validate, aggregate and make profitable in order to excite clinics, for example. Several Corfo projects were won, allowing them to devote 100% of themselves to the startup, hiring people and allocating resources to other areas of medical equipment development, such as organizational and industrial ownership. The first loan from Corfu they took was a seed capital called SSAF, which in its first phase provided $60 million. In 2015, they moved into the next range of calls with a technology package of nearly $200 million to achieve a finished product.
They were on a trip to Silicon Valley and a friend of Mathias Hutchiasson told him about a presentation they had given to a group of investors. The excitement was instant. The third partner who was more commercial had just left the company. “We already knew each other and worked for a while on the development side. As an electrical engineer, he had a more industrial and commercial background. One day Moises called me offering to join me as a partner,” he recalls.
Matthias had just dropped out of college, but he already had two startups under his arm. Someone created a 3D sound system that simulates the real world through headphones: moving the head increases or decreases sounds, depending on their location. “We were talking with Apple, but in the end my partners screwed it up and so did I. The funny thing is that Apple recently released a 3D sound system,” Matias laughs.
But all this is another matter. In 2018, Matthias became a partner of Trainfes. “They were very product focused and didn’t offer a complete solution, which is key to selling. So what we did was turn the team that helps you a lot in rehabilitation into a solution that allows you to rehabilitate yourself,” he explains.
Trainfes defines its business model as “Technological Rehabilitation as a Service”. In other words, it offers its technology to perform rehabilitation in various forms for use either in the patient’s home or in the rehabilitation center located in Las Condes. Innovation, in addition to neurorehabilitation devices, comes in accompaniment – whether online, in-person, at home or co-educational – but with an emphasis on ongoing rehabilitation.
The Trainfes technique used the principle of functional electrical stimulation to promote rehabilitation from paralysis. “But that paradigm has now mutated and the paradigm is more of a remote rehabilitation solution with associated technology that people can use at home,” says Matthias. Functional electrical stimulation remains the mainstay. It is a series of electrodes that are placed in the affected area and activate neuromuscular, for example, movement of the arm.
But another big difference with more traditional methods is how they engage their users in the treatment. Therapists send daily plans to the patient’s cell phone, who can follow the exercises step by step. “This allows us to offer ten times more treatment than in the medical center, and at the same time, we guarantee the best quality using technologies such as functional electrical stimulation and inertial sensors,” explains Matthias. And compare: “We’re like Duolingo Rehab.”
It was 2018, and even though they had already raised around $500,000 USD, almost everything was going to evolve. There was also scope for research work, since a university, for example, purchased two sets of equipment for this. But they needed a significant capital increase to increase the end user area. In October 2019, Invexor acquired the portfolio for $1.3 million, allowing it to accelerate business expansion and create new areas within the company such as therapy, support, and the cloud platform. “It only helped us commercially. Invexor became part of our board of directors, which helped a lot in uniting us as a company. They have a lot more strategy.”
The partner in this startup highlights another key point in the innovation of Trainfes. “This is something that has been done a little bit because it is very difficult to access, it is very expensive and is only used by specific therapists. In Chile, only 6.5% of patients are admitted to rehabilitation centers. The remaining 93.5% are not rehabilitated. Of this 6.5% Almost nobody does it with technology. In the US it’s 11%. It’s all because of high costs.” To get an idea, an example. “For someone who needs a lot of day-to-day care and work, a traditional in-clinic rehabilitation process can cost around $5 million. With a 6-month program, which includes take-home technology, plus treatments, trainings, and the entire process, we’re Its average value is $2.5 million. Even, depending on various factors, it can be about 10 times cheaper. “
They expect to pay about $1 million this year and have already rehabilitated over a thousand people if clinics and hospitals are counted. They work in Chile and are already exploring Colombia, where there is less regulation in this area. But they decided that the next step would be the United States. So they are preparing a $1.75 million round that they hope to close for the remainder of the year or early next year.
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