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With a Little Help from an EIA Grant, Wellinks Helping Kids With Scoliosis Manage Their Condition

Can you tell us a little bit about the company you founded, Wellinks?

Wellinks is a wearable medical device company. We create monitoring and compliance-monitoring devices for orthotics and prosthetics that help people who have musculoskeletal conditions manage their treatment, share data with caregivers and doctors and make sure they’re following the correct treatment. We provide them with a device that collects treatment data, and an app so they can track their own treatment, set reminders and goals.

And you have developed your first product, correct?

Yes, our first product is for kids who have scoliosis. We have created, essentially, a smart strap that attaches onto the brace and can track how long and how tight the brace is being worn. The kids can see it with an app and track their long-term progress. Parents can work with the kids to set goals and incentives, and doctors can also see that data. We’re hoping to be able to prevent surgeries by helping kids better understand and engage with the treatment. We’re in the process of manufacturing right now, and we’re hoping to launch this product in the next few months!

When was the company founded?

We started as a student project in 2013 at Yale and incorporated in 2014. We had a chance to apply for an engineering fellowship, where we came up with the original idea and the plan, and went through an incubator program at Yale the next year.

How did your affiliation with CTNext begin?

Our first contact with CTNext was through the EIA grant, which we applied for in the summer of 2014. Some of our contacts at the Yale business school encouraged us to apply for the program, and we ended up winning it in July of 2014. That was our first contact with CTNext and the larger Connecticut ecosystem.

You’ve tapped into some other CTNext programs as well, correct?

Yes, after we used the EIA money to create our first iOS app, we got the Tech Talent Bridge in 2015, and that allowed us to hire an iOS intern to update the app and improve it. So that really helped us get going on the software side.

What role has CTNext played in helping you get your business off the ground?

I don’t think we’d be doing some of the things we’re now doing if CTNext resources weren’t available. Beyond the funds, CTNext has offered us really good validation when speaking to investors, and we received good feedback from the judges at EIA. The people that we’ve met at CTNext events have been really helpful. We’re applying for an SBIR grant and utilizing some of the CTNext resources there, like their SBIR consultants. Overall, CTNext has been really good about connecting us to the relevant programs and opportunities. I think it’s really helped us accelerate our plan and dedicate more resources to the development of our company and growth.

How would you advise another entrepreneur looking to leverage CTNext programs?

I think the CTNext programs are a really good deal. The grants are really important for an early-stage company and are the best kind of money to get. And beyond just the funding, the connections are really important too. I would say for other entrepreneurs, leveraging the people that you meet there is most important. The Connecticut ecosystem is fairly small, but it’s well connected. And so, if meet someone at a CTNext event, chances are they are someone you’ll want to know in Connecticut and someone who can connect you to other relevant resources.

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