• Aaya Hakeem

Idea to Demo Day - A Memoir

Updated: May 28

We've been fortunate enough to participate in Demo Day, the culmination of 6 months of intense acceleration through the MedTech Actuator Program.

The journey from idea to Demo Day has been a long one, and thanks to COVID, a very long and somewhat isolating one at that... not to say there haven't been lots of great memories made along the way!

The Idea

It all started with GenuFlex - a device that helps you to push your stiff knee to bend and straighten after knee surgery... basically a torture machine.

As you do when you have a great inventive idea, you chat to a few friends, if they give you the green light, you set to work building said torture device on the kitchen table.

SafeFlex 1.0 is born!

A crude depiction of our thinking to date... time to rip it to SHREDS!

The Un-Validation and Re-Validation

We took our ideas to the Medical Device Partnering Program (MDPP) to get some advice. It turns out the problem we were addressing was there, but our solution was not quite on the right track.

Running a workshop at an ortho rehab facility

We were able to get feedback from several clinicians more experienced than myself and my peers, and found out what factors would be more important to focus on.

It was going through this stage that I learned a very important lesson, to be an entrepreneur, you have to have the ability to take and learn from criticism in all of its forms

Also, you have to love and nurture your baby, but your baby isn't your baby as in what SafeFlex 1.0 was to me, rather, your baby is your will to solve the problems you have set out to in the best way possible.

Some More Validation!

Still, before the world would seemingly implode, we were selected as semi-finalists to compete at a rapid fire (60-second) pitch at the MTAA conference, Dr Greg Roger opted to be my mentor and so we were invited to pitch as finalists at MedTech's Got Talent.

The MedTech's Got Talent Gala is a night I will remember forever, speaking to a room packed full of expert clinicians, lobbyists, politicians and game-changers.... not to mention it was my first ever black tie event (I'm a simple person).

The world ends, but the show must go on!

Like many I'm sure, it took a while to wrap our heads around quite how serious COVID was, and the implications it would have on our lives and work.

GenuFlex was awaiting work to be started with RMIT through the MDPP, at that point in our timeline, our focus was to be on market validation, speaking to patients and clinicians, but due to the difficulty with access, we decided to shift the focus on building a prototype, with a view to gaining feedback post COVID.

RMIT and MDPP FamBam - Virtual catch-ups every couple of weeks to discuss progress and milestones

MedTech Actuator

It was around this time we commenced the MedTech Actuator Program, registered ourselves as a company, rebranded as PhysiPal, and got our first bit of venture capital funding.

Cohort 5 was to become the first cohort to run a fully virtual program, kudos to the MTAC team, there was never a dull moment.

With monthly sprints involving workshops with topic experts locally and internationally, accountability stand-ups, homework, networking and mentoring events and one fantastic trivia night - I can now say that I am an expert in everything I need to learn about commercialising MedTech!

It really has been a rollercoaster of a journey so far - and it continues to be exciting, challenging, and very rewarding, here's to 2021.