Spotlight on: Myomo, StartHub’s Startup to Watch for May

January 28, 2018

Each month as part of StartHub Startups to Watch Program we connect with the winning company to learn more about them.  Our May Startup to Watch is Myomo, a Cambridge-based medical robotics company.  Recently we had the pleasure of interviewing Paul Gudonis, CEO of Myomo.  Here’s what we learned:

Tell us about your company. What is Myomo?

Myomo is a commercial stage medical robotics company.  Myomo produces the MyoPro, a myoelectric arm orthosis (powered brace) that is the only lightweight wearable device that can restore function in the paralyzed or weakened arms and hands of many individuals that have suffered a stroke, spinal cord or nerve injury, or other neuromuscular disability.  When the user tries to bend their arm, sensors in the MyoPro brace detect the weak muscle signal, which activates motors to move the arm in the desired direction. The user is completely controlling their own arm and hand; the brace amplifies their weak muscle signal to help bend and move their arm. With the orthosis, a paralyzed individual can perform activities of daily living including feeding themselves, carrying objects, doing household tasks and may often return to work.

Due to the large number of strokes, spinal cord injuries, and other neurological conditions which occur each year, the potential market opportunity worldwide may consist of millions of individuals and is growing each year.

What is your background? 

I have been launching new technology-based products and services for 30 years – in software, telecommunications, Internet services, and robotics. I served as President at FIRST Robotics and as CEO of Genuity and Centra Software.  I have a BS from Northwestern McCormick School of Engineering and an MBA from Harvard. 

How did you come up with the idea for Myomo​? Who is your target customer?

It was not my idea. The core technology for a myoelectric orthosis was patented by MIT, and Myomo’s founders licensed the patents and began to develop its first product. I joined the company about six years ago to commercialize the technology, and my contribution was to develop a lightweight device that patients could wear all day, suitable for a broad market. Our ultimate customers are the millions of people suffering from arm and hand paralysis caused by stroke or spinal cord or other nerve injury or disease, such as brachial plexus injury, MS or ALS. Our product is prescribed by physicians, recommended by occupational and physical therapists, and fitted and delivered by orthotics and prosthetics professionals.

How do you think Myomo​ is going to disrupt the market? What are the main differentiators between you and your competitors?

For our patients, our product is a life-changer – they can use their arm and hand again.  There is absolutely nothing else like it on the market for upper extremities.  It defines a whole new category.

Who are your main investors?

The company has raised money from venture firm Mountain Group Capital, individual investors and family offices to date. At the moment, we are in the middle of an IPO under the JOBS Act Regulation A+and we expect to trade on the NYSE MKT under the symbol “MYO”.

Why did you decide to start your business in Boston? How long has your company been around? 

We were founded 10 years ago as a spinoff from MIT – thus our Cambridge roots.

What resources in the startup community have contributed to the success of Myomo?

The CIC has been crucial to our success – the space, the resources, the contacts.  Boston/Cambridge is a great place to start and grow a business.

How do you use StartHub professionally? 

There is nothing like StartHub for contacts and ideas.  It is a tremendous resource to the area.

What are the next steps for Myomo​?

Expand the product line and expand our presence in the market.  Product-wise, we are developing a pediatric version of our device in cooperation with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.  Market-wise, we are expanding our footprint across the U.S. and through a partnership with Ottobock to expand into Canada and the E.U.

What is the most important thing our readers should know about Myomo​?

One of our patients, a 28-year old woman in Salem who suffered a debilitating stroke several years ago recently said “I love my MyoPro”.  She has been able to return to work. We want to bring that feeling to millions and enable them to live more productive lives.

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