No one thinks they’ll get addicted to opioids. Unfortunately, the path can start with a prescription for a bad back, an injury or surgery, and the next thing you know the pain pills aren’t enough. According to the CDC, on average 78 people die everyday from painkiller addiction. The opioid epidemic in the United States is a reality that must be fixed and startups are joining in the good fight.
Greg Houlgate, Founder, Chief Business & Product Development Officer of Oska Wellness is doing just that. He showcased his invention Oska Pulse, a non-drug, non-invasive, pain management system, at our Startup of the Year Competition at Innovate Celebrate 2017, and took home the 2017 Startup of the Year title. This win led to supporting investment from the Startup of the Year investment community. His clinically-proven health device appealed to investors because of their clinical approach and technology used to manage pain and their distribution approach. Oska’s business has doubled since winning the competition.
The Oska Pulse uses an e-tech pulse or Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields (PEMF) to elevate the body’s “ability to repair injured cells to relieve all types of pain.” Houlgate realized that his device could not only relieve people of pain, but could make an impact in the fight against opioid addiction.
We had a chance to talk with Houlgate before Innovate Celebrate 2018 to provide some advice for startups and talk about his company’s milestones.
What is Oska doing to help combat the Opioid epidemic?
The current opioid epidemic is only getting worse. Oska is working with the NIH, the VA and several large integrated medical care organizations such as Kaiser and Sanford Health. We have ongoing trials and programs where healthcare professionals are utilizing Oska Pulse to provide non-drug pain management.
What are some milestones following your win at Innovate Celebrate 2017?
Since winning the Startup of the Year competition, our top line has doubled since our launch year and [we’re] on track to double it again in 2018. Additionally, Oska was awarded MedTech's “Best New Tech Solution-Pain Management” in 2018.
We have gained traction across the USA with a reimbursement billing code, workers compensation coverage programs, pre-tax healthcare programs like the FSAStore.com and HSAStore.com, trials to adoptions in integrated healthcare programs from the VA to Kaiser to Sanford Health, and more.
What are some general things that surprised you while building Oska?
While building Oska and bringing a well-studied and respected technology to market, it has been a constant battle to educate even the savviest of people that what we are doing is good for them with no real downside from the patient to doctor to payer.
What advice would you give startups entering the health and wellness space?
For any startup, it’s very important to understand what problem you are solving, how you plan to solve it, what resources will be required (then double or triple the money and time expected here), where those resources will come from and who you need on the team to help build your company.
Gain knowledge from those who have come before you and stay focused on your solution as only you can deliver the passion and remain durable. Many people and situations will deter you from your mission.
[Specifically] in the health and wellness space, you could have more people you must build an alignment with, such as FDA, NIH, CDC, USDA, Medicare, Insurance companies, etc., in order to be successful in your venture.
Talk about the Startup of the Year competition and how the win helped propel your company to the next level.
We were very focused on increasing the commercializing of the Oska Pulse in direct to consumer channels. We were not really prepared for the intensity and effort necessary to compete with all the companies that made it to the semifinals-especially the final five.
The presentation that won the competition was a clear message that highlighted not only the benefit of [how our product helps] people, but demonstrated we are a highly functioning enterprise focused on succeeding in a crowded marketplace. Since the win last October, the media attention and notoriety has supported our efforts to gain sales traction across the U.S.
What advice would you give other startups competing for the 6th Annual Startup of the Year?
Pretty simple: be clear on your value proposition, explain what you do, what problem you are solving and why people should invest in your team and dream.
Attendees will have the opportunity to connect with our Top 100 Semifinalists and check out the hottest innovations from large to small companies joining us from around the world.
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