Steamboat startups: Click Medical brings comfort, convenience to medical devices
Established: January 2015
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Click Medical brings comfort, convenience to medical devices
Steamboat Springs — Tucked into home offices, rented shops and basements around town is the next batch of Steamboat Springs entrepreneurs.
Some are starting with modest ideas, like a duo of young clothing designers who want to help animals, while others bring decades of experience to operations that seem destined for success.
While many entrepreneurs turn to larger cities for resources and lower costs, Steamboat’s newest business leaders are convinced their success will be just as great if they keep their operations local.
“There’s a lot of opportunity here,” said Randy Rudasics, manager of the Yampa Valley Entrepreneurship Center at Colorado Mountain College’s Alpine Campus in Steamboat Springs. “Virtually every business in town started here (in Steamboat).”
Rudasics oversees a row of micro-offices inside the Entrepreneurship Center where location-neutral business people and early-stage startups rent out space.
He also facilitates an annual business plan competition that has awarded funds to companies that include bamboo ski pole maker Grass Sticks; an exercise device that mimics a horseback ride called The Balance Rider; and a health monitoring device for cattle called Cattle Fit.
“Our population has a very entrepreneurial spirit,” Rudasics said. “In Steamboat, we have a lot of folks trying to create their own destiny. It takes time and a lot of fortitude, and a tolerance for poverty.”
And the odds aren’t in favor of long-term success for new small businesses. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about one-third of businesses will close up shop within their first two years of operation, and only about half will make it to year five.
“Some won’t make it, and some will,” Rudasics said.
But for those new businesses that do find success, Rudasics said, “the long play is a better life.”
Jimmy Capra was the first hired employee of Boa Technologies more than 15 years ago, when the clicking, steel lace cable system known as Boa was little more than a prototype to replace laces on snowboard boots.
The then-Steamboat-based company grew dramatically during his tenure, and Capra was there helping to lead new areas of the company as the technology was adapted for use on golf and cycling shoes, durable work boots and helmets.
Capra’s interest was piqued a few years ago when manufacturers of orthotics devices and prosthetists began reaching out to Boa, inquiring about using Boa in custom medical devices.
Even today, most prosthetic devices for amputees rely on layering socks to achieve the best fit.
“That was the state-of-the-art for prosthetics,” Capra said.
Because Boa’s business model was to create off-the-shelf devices to sell en masse, manufacturing a custom Boa closure system for each customer wasn’t realistic.
In 2014, several years after Boa moved the bulk of its operations to the Front Range, Capra chose to branch off from the company to pursue a new venture of bringing Boa technology to orthotics, prosthetics and other medical devices.
He quickly established a working partnership with Boa and created his new company, Click Medical, in Steamboat Springs.
Today, the company has found seemingly overnight success in the United States and internationally, primarily by selling kits containing the components to practitioners, who use the Boa closure system to create adjustable medical devices.
The kits are assembled in a basement underneath the company’s modest Oak Street offices.
“Our actual customers are the physicians that create these devices,” said Capra, company CEO.
One exception is the company’s newest product — an out-of-the-package ClickFit strap that adjusts using a Boa closure and is used to tighten up the fit of other products.
The importance of being able to adjust the fit of a prosthetic or orthotic during a given day or over time is invaluable, Capra said.
“The body is always changing,” Capra said. “And you have this completely static device for an ever-adjusting limb.”
Capra explained that 25 to 30 percent of people with a prosthetic leg, for example, can’t fit into their prosthetic first thing in the morning, as their leg is generally bigger earlier in the day.
People who use prosthetics or orthotics may want a tighter fit when exercising versus a day at the office.
Last year, Click Medical donated the parts for an adjustable prosthetic socket for a Breckenridge amputee planning to hike the 2,300-mile Appalachian Trail.
Niki Rellon was previously a ski instructor, patroller and paramedic before a serious rappelling accident in Utah caused numerous injuries and damaged Rellon’s left foot so badly that a below-the-knee amputation was required.
Rellon started the Appalachian Trail in March 2015 with a traditional prosthetic socket but realized in only a few days that the device’s lack of adjustability was causing severe skin damage.
“Her static socket had just rubbed the skin raw,” said Jay O’Hare, vice president of marketing at Click Medical.
After returning to the trail with a custom RevoFIT socket, which incorporates Boa technology and was developed by Click Medical, Rellon was able to power through and finish the trail before Christmas.
“Your mobility is everything,” Capra said. “We’re changing lives in ways you couldn’t believe.”
After less than two years in business, Click Medical now works with 10 manufacturers, 18 distributers and hundreds of practitioners putting Click Medical kits to use in more than 30 countries.
The company’s kits and products are specifically gaining traction in Europe, Asia and Mexico.
“It’s been exponential growth,” O’Hare said. “Patients say it’s a game changer.”
Company forecasting suggests Click Medical could become an organization 40 times the size it is today in as little as 10 years, and Capra said he has every intention of keeping the operations in Steamboat.
He believes people living in Steamboat are innovative, creative and happy because of where they live, and they bring those attributes to work every day.
“There’s a thousand reasons people could point to a small town being a bad place to start a business,” Capra said. “I say that’s hogwash.”
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