March 2019 Amber Grant Awarded to TheraV
Last week, we announced five March Amber Grant finalists. Today, we’re thrilled to share the recipient and the qualifier for our $25,000 year-end Amber Grant.
Congratulations to Amira Idris Radovic, Founder of TheraV. In our interview, Amira discusses her unique product, shares her biggest obstacle, and much more.
WN: Share what issue your product addresses and how you’re providing a solution.
AI: Over 2.1 million people in the United States are living with limb loss, and 80% of amputees suffer from a condition known as phantom limb pain. Phantom limb pain is ongoing nerve pain in a missing limb after it has been amputated because the brain cannot recognize that the limb is no longer there.
The pain can be so severe that it leads to loss of sleep, an inability to function, and a decrease in quality of life. On average, it can cost over $3,000 annually per person to manage phantom limb pain. The most common method to treat this requires consuming a combination of medications, including opioids, antidepressant, and anticonvulsants, which have severe side effects. Other methods include repeatedly hitting the limb, mirror therapy, and surgery, which are ineffective, inconvenient, and invasive.
Unfortunately, phantom limb pain affects over 8 million documented people globally. With the limited resources available to the amputee community, the financial struggles of limb loss, and the stigma tied to pain in a limb that is no longer there, many amputees suffer in silence. To address these issues, we developed our first product, TheraV ELIX, a patent-pending drug-free wearable device that uses customized vibration therapy technology to stimulate the nerve endings of the residual (remaining) limb, disrupting the pain signals that are sent to the brain. The TheraV ELIX provides a drug-free pain management alternative for amputation pain suffers.
WN: How are you reaching your target market?
AI: To raise awareness about our solution to amputation pain, we work with prosthetic clinics by giving sample devices to clinics to trial with their customers. We also present the TheraV ELIX at amputee support groups across the country, in-person or through a video conference call.
When financially feasible, we attend the Amputee Coalition of America National Conference to showcase the TheraV ELIX and have attendees interact with our device. This usually leads to a customer referral or purchase of the TheraV ELIX. In addition, we use our social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and our website) to share our journey, share our customer testimonials, and connect with everyday people living with limb loss. With these channels, we have been able to raise awareness of TheraV in the limb loss community.
In the future, we plan to purchase advertising space in magazines that are provided to the amputee community, and attend more conferences where we can meet amputees, family members, prosthetists, clinicians, and supporters of the limb loss community. We have found this to be the most effective way to reach a larger number of people in the amputee community.
WN: What feedback have you received form those who’ve used your product?
AI: Since launching TheraV ELIX in the summer of 2018, we have helped over 100 amputees overcome phantom limb pain, with 83% reporting a reduction in the intensity and frequency of their phantom limb pain. We have also been able to serve 53 Veteran amputees through crowdfunded public donations of TheraV ELIX devices. Since launching, we continue to collect feedback from our customers on how our device is performing and how we can improve. Here are a few testimonials from current users of the TheraV ELIX:
“I put it on at level 2 or 3, and it (ELIX) gets the nerve pain to subside and I’m able to go to sleep.” – Josh H., Veteran
“I cannot believe how well this thing (ELIX) works! I didn’t want to take gabapentin, so I put the device on and after a few seconds the pain went away!” – Hanbert F., Veteran
“You forget about the phantom limb pain.” – Harry S., Veteran
“My body relaxed more. My leg relaxed more. I was just able to sleep more comfortably.”- Gabriel M., Veteran
WN: What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve faced while running TheraV?
AI: My biggest challenge is building a talented and visionary team that can help me scale the business. TheraV recently became a team of three, with me, Amira Idris Radovic, as the CEO, Chris Wells as our hardware engineer, and Horitius Jen Lee as our director of outreach, who is also an amputee and a Veteran.
Finding and keeping talented people like Chris and Horitius has been challenging due to our lack of funding. We have had talented people reach out to us about working with TheraV, only to get disappointed when we mention a lack of funding to pay them (which is understandable). However, this means we must rely on bootstrapping as a funding method, while our current team takes on other jobs to supplement their income. This prevents TheraV from rapidly growing and expanding.
We are currently seeking an investor that understands our mission, our market, and is willing to actively work with us to scale TheraV.
WN: Share some advice you’d give to an aspiring female entrepreneur.
AI: I would advise aspiring female entrepreneurs to not be afraid to take a step forward and explore the business idea they have, even if it means failing. I believe it is better to try, fail, and pivot or perish an idea, rather than regret never taking a chance on yourself.
Aspiring female entrepreneurs must keep in mind that the dictionary definition of entrepreneurship is “the activity of setting up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit”. It is also worth noting that the risk is not only financial but can also be emotional, mental, and physical. To make this risk-taking process easier, I would advise female entrepreneurs to purse business ideas and opportunities they are deeply passionate about. This is because I see passion as the fire that fuels entrepreneurs and hardens their will to pursue their business ideas.