REMOD is a start-up working in the field of rehabilitation technology.
Without any prior technical knowledge, Anna Gutmann has developed a device that allowed her half paralyzed daughter Dindia re-learn to walk. Now in order to help others, they are both developing a business concept with the Berlin-Brandenburg (BPW) business plan competition. They have already won in the first phase.
Dindia and Anna Gutmann are not only mother and daughter, but a team with a mission. Together, they have developed an innovative product that can increase quality of life and independence for many. It all started with a shock. Just three months before birth, Dindia suffered a stroke. Since then, she suffers from hemiplegia, a so-called hemiparesis. This leads to wear and tear in the joints, severe pain and spasticity. Despite several therapies, doctors can not help who was Dindia finding walking more and more difficult. At age eleven, she spent more and more time in the hospital and alone on the sofa and became depressed. The spastic convulsions were getting worse and life in a wheelchair seemed inevitable.
A device that brings the world into balance
Although doctors believed that there was little hope medically, this mother and daughter did not want to leave it to fate but rather rise to the challenge. Anna Gutmann initially developed her own body exercises for Dindia and trained walking with her every day. At first, she corrected her daughter’s posture by shouting. Out of this the idea of a device that performs this task through electronic impulses was born in 2005. If the shoulder is tilted, the device sends signals until the posture is level again. Anna developed this construction based on explanations from sceptical neurologists and staff from the electrical shop around the corner. Step by step she soldered an apparatus together without any prior technical knowledge, continually refined it after tests with her daughter and built the first prototype in 2005 – packed in a pink lunch box. With this device and the help of her mother, Dindia Gutmann learned how to walk again. During the first test she exclaimed excitedly: „Mom, the world is not shaking anymore.“
From lunch box to production ready prototypes
Dindia and Anna Gutmann want to allow other patients to win back this way of life and so are developing the device with professional help. This was possible after a crucial encounter: on the Long Night of Science in 2008, Anna met Dr. Wolfram Roßdeutscher. He works as a senior chief engineer in the field of medical engineering at the Technical University Berlin and is a specialist in assistive devices for people with disabilities. The engineer was immediately impressed by the product and supported its development. From 2008 to 2013 after several clinical trials and scientific work, the Remember Motion Device (ReMoD) was born.
The tests demonstrate that the device can also support scoliosis patients with deformed spines as well as people with postural defects. It is now much smaller and an inconspicuous companion in the life of Dindia Gutmann. She uses it at parties, studies economics at Humboldt University Berlin, is going to Israel for three months and is undertaking a semester abroad in Portugal. „Hardly anyone has approached me about it,“ says the young woman. „My self-confidence grew from zero to one hundred“. While she used to only be able to walk up to 200 meters, today she is a passionate hiker and can easily manage distances of 14 kilometres.
Andreas Baranek, an engineer in computer science at the TU Berlin and energy electronics specialist, has been crucial in the further development of the product. In addition the team is strenghtned by Marcel Tschöpe, also partially paralyzed from birth, who studied sports science and over sees the clinical tests as well as Deborah Laborde, the commercial managing director. Prof. Dr. Duesberg, specialist in orthopaedics and rehabilitation medicine, advises on medical issues. He also worked on simplifying the menu navigation and on an electronic evaluation to document the therapeutic success.
The BPW as a pioneer
On the way to independence, the business plan competition Berlin-Brandenburg is now providing support to the team. The impulse came from the start up service of the TU Berlin, who helped the team in their application for a grant from EXIST, a program of the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs. „More important than the money is the moral support. These people help especially in times of crisis“, emphasises Anna Gutmann. Although they had never heard of the Business Model Canvas, the team is engaged more precisely with the still relatively new way of representing a business model in nine fields. They participated in this category during the first phase of the BPW 2015 and won first prize at the award ceremony on February 19 in Potsdam.
REMOD is going through additional tests now in its sixth generation. Once finished and after scientific publication, Dindia and Anna Gutmann want to apply for its approval as a medical device in May 2015 and start production next year. All further steps for Anna and Dindia Gutmann and their team on their remarkable path are taken according to their company motto „walking towards a better future“.