Editor’s note: This article is sponsored by the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Regnier Institute, but was independently produced on behalf of Startland News.
Pressure to succeed has only increased since Kansas City-based Mobility Designed found its footing as the first new design for crutches since the Civil War, said co-founders Max and Liliana Younger.
What began as a personal mission to develop a more comfortable crutch has evolved into a successful startup with ever-increasing aspirations. The company is now in the middle of its second round of funding and poised to release a new product by the end of summer.
“I think there’s definitely more pressure now because we’ve come to a point where we’ve been climbing the whole time and the fall would be much greater,” Liliana Younger said.
“We’re never really satisfied with our products,” Max Younger added. “We’re always striving to achieve better quality, better design, better functionality for our users.”
Inspired to create an improved experience for people like Max Younger’s father, who is an amputee, the startup produced the M+D Crutch, which allows users to apply pressure on the elbows instead of under their armpits or wrists.
Click here to see Mobility Designed’s full range of products.
By just about any measure, the startup already has been successful.
After raising $1 million in seed funding and gaining popularity with the help of a viral video, the product has been sold in 21 countries. A new distribution center is opening in Europe to help satisfy worldwide demand. And, of course, the startup has won numerous awards and grants. Among them was a first place showing in 2015 at the Regnier Venture Creation Challenge, which returns Thursday and Friday to the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Click here to learn more about this week’s Regnier Venture Creation Challenge events.
Mobility Designed has raised $1.7 million so far in its current funding round, which is expected to go toward sales and marketing as the company aims to expand.
Growth also will come in the form of a new product expected to debut at the end of summer.
Though details of the product remain confidential, the mobility device is intended to reach a larger segment of the market with a lower price and different functionality, compared to the $250 product currently sold by Mobility Designed.
“It’s going to be a game-changer for people,” Max Younger said.
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“So much thought and ingenuity have gone into these (M+D Crutches) I cannot even begin to list all the features,” said D’Ann S. Exhibit A: the hinged arm cradle that can be unlocked to provide an enhanced range of motion, allowing you to reach for things without having to remove your crutch. • • • • • #MobilityDesigned #MDCrutch #ElbowsNotArmpits #BetterMobility #MobilityAssistance #MobilityAwareness #MobileYou
Yet even as the company continues to grow, some things haven’t changed. Mobility Designed has continued to provide customer service through its small team based in Kansas City. Phone calls and emails from customers have helped the team respond quickly to the needs of customers and even produce new ideas for future products. Such interactions also have helped remind the Youngers of who their product is helping and why they started Mobility Designed in the first place.
A woman in Connecticut, for example, recently wrote the company a letter detailing her experience with the M+D Crutch, Liliana Younger said. Because of the product’s assistance, she was able to stand and visit with friends during a party, instead of sitting on the couch by herself.
“It felt so great,” Liliana Younger said. “When somebody takes the time to do that, or call us and just say thank you, it is amazing.”