Storage rack wins 5x5 Night
A wall-mounted storage rack for folding walkers was the product to bet on at the last emerge 5x5 Night.
The Werth Rack received the $5,000 prize at the November 5x5 Night at Start Garden in downtown Grand Rapids.
The rack by the startup Werth was co-developed by self-described science nerds Melanie Koops, a third-year physical therapy student at Grand Valley State University, and Chris Werth, an exercise physiologist for the Spectrum Health Heart and Vascular Center.
The Werth Rack is designed to increase rehabilitation staff productivity by making walker selections more efficient, as well as decrease storage square footage by about 50 percent.
The product's patent-pending design is intended to save "time, space and effort, when compared to current, ineffective walker storage systems," the startup's website says.
The rack's vertical suspension also creates upright walker positions for "easy leg or wheel modifications."
The startup says the product is "simple to install and low maintenance" and "puts patient care and experience first.”
About 8,000 baby boomers turn 65 each day, according to Werth Rack.
“The growth of the aging population, plus recent insurance regulation changes, directly relate to increased rehab demands,” the Werth 5x5 Night page says. “In layman’s terms, more people with more coverage equals increased hospital volumes. This means increased storage demands and a darn good market opportunity.
“Our product is unique, because it is specifically designed to store walkers. Our competition makes a general storage rack. Because they are not constructed to house walkers, the storage volume and efficiency is severely impacted.”
Koops and Werth will use the money to attend the American Physical Therapy Association’s Combined Sections Meeting, which is being held in California next year. A booth at the event can cost about $2,500-$3,000, but the event can potentially place the product in front of more than 10,000 physical therapists and hundreds of vendors.
“Our roadblock is the need to develop a partnership with a large rehab distribution company,” the Werth 5x5 Night page says. “We hope to attend the national physical therapy conference this January. This would provide networking opportunities with rehab device distributors like Patterson Medical and Medline.”