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Startup of the week: macu4

This week, we spoke to Myriam Lingg, CEO and Co-Founder of macu4, making the world an inclusive playground and to champion inclusion through affordable, easy to use, and comfortable solutions for everyone.

Tell us about your company.

We founded macu4 in June 2021 (Zurich, Switzerland) as a team of 3 Co-Founders. With very few resources and a high level of personal commitment, we developed our first product and a value chain approach that is a true system innovation with a considerable social impact. We design new concepts that rethink supply paths and make them more efficient. We focus on people with missing or limited grasping function of the hand. For these people, we are radically improving the range of possibilities in terms of physical activities and the customer journey – an aspect becoming frequently more relevant. About 70% of our target group do not use an aid or do not use it to its full extent. Our target market covers more than 100 M people globally. The three main problems we solve are (i) Comfort, how it feels on the arm, (ii) Functionality, what you can actually do with it, and (iii) Costs, because more and more often users have to bear parts of the costs themselves. We solve the problems with 2 concepts, each combining a 3D-printed product system with a data-driven approach for measurement and online configuration. Product concept 1 is a forearm prosthesis and product concept 2 a hand orthoprosthesis. The principle of our solution is always the same. The products are lightweight, breathable and therefore comfortable. Our solutions are very modular so that the user and the specialist have flexibility to decide how and for what they use it. Care provision with our concepts is time-saving due to the simplified customer journey and partial design automation. We achieve partially 75% cost savings.

What made you become an entrepreneur?

We are an entrepreneurial team consisting of people who are trained in medical device development and have a very good expertise in healthcare. We love thinking outside the box to create simple solutions to existing challenges. By combining new technologies such as additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, and advanced materials, we create new possibilities. We believe in simplicity in manufacturing and ease in doing activities. There is no perfect solution for everyone, but there is an optimal solution for our users. Our passion lies in finding a tailor-made solution for each individual user. The current providers in the field of prosthetics don’t work with such a thinking and therefore the user challenges remain to be unsolved. That is our motivation – show the different stakeholders that system innovation does not necessarily mean high tech. My Co-Founders always wanted to become an entrepreneur. For me it was less important as I am happy with all kind of work. But what I very much appreciate is to build up something from scratch – that is really exciting.

What is the most challenging part of running your own startup?

Besides funding the biggest challenge is to find out the things that we don’t know today as early as possible by being highly attentive, network and asking a lot of questions to a lot of different people. We would be extremely happy when macu4 technology is not only introduced into the market but if it inspires the current care path in any way. What we do quite well is we ask an incredible amount of questions (to users, customers, professionals, etc). We network like crazy.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced when looking for funding?

Our biggest challenge is to get different investor needs within a short time aligned. During our Seed Round we achieved relatively quickly the clear commitment of all parties but the final negotiation with few single investors led to a 4 months delay. In our case, this did not cause any liquidity problems, but we had the other investors that were waiting for closing the round.

What is the most rewarding aspect of entrepreneurship?

As an entrepreneur, you bounce back and forth like a ping-pong ball and gather a lot of impulses, which you need to analyze and take the right decisions. It's always a balancing act. It's a constant balance between improvising and structure. I meet people, improvise, ask questions, questions, questions, and then we restructure again until we have the feeling / see by the data, that it is finally the right approach for the current stage.

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