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Profile: Jay Martin

Jay Martin - provided photo

Improving Comfort and Lives in Prosthetics

Written by me for the Oklahoma Venture Forum.

During Jay Martin’s early days of his clinical work in prosthetics, he learned his patients’ functional abilities were limited not as much by their amputation as by the lack of technology available in the field. With his love of inventing, Martin saw an opportunity to advance the field of prosthetics to provide more comfort, more functional abilities, and quality of life back to amputees.

“We think of prosthetics as being a very high-tech field, there are some great advancements have been made in recent years, artificial intelligence and new control systems and robotic devices, but prosthetics, in my opinion, has really been a very stagnant field, and it’s very much in its infancy still,” said Jay Martin, founder of Martin Bionics. “I’d argue the vast majority of amputees, quality of life with prosthetics is but a shadow of what it could or should be if technology were further along.”

While Martin believes features like better control systems and better sensors are significant, the greater good revolves around socket comfort. The socket is the part of the prosthetic that the body interfaces with, and Martin compares conventional sockets to feeling like wooden clogs.

As Martin set out to improve the quality of life aspects in the prosthetics field, he got an opportunity to work with NASA on three different exoskeleton programs. One was an Iron Man suit for special ops SEAL Team Six, another was a fabric-based exoskeleton, and the third was an exoskeleton for astronauts.

“With all three programs, they were all very challenging in their own regards,” said Martin. “We created kind of what became the foundation for what we have now as the socket-less socket technology, which is our main product line. And really what I developed was I developed an understanding and awareness of how to connect man and machine with compliant, dynamic materials in a way that would achieve maximum comfort, but also maximum control and stability within the device.”

Compared to conventional prosthetics, the technology at Martin Bionics more modular. Their modular sub-components can be assembled with simple hand tools to fit and match the user. Martin said this bypass much of the fabrication processes needed to make conventional prosthetics, allowing them to fit their sockets faster, more efficiently, and effectively.

“We have a new generation of technology that we’re working on right now that expedites that process even further,” said Martin. “We’re already leaps and bounds faster than conventional fitting methods to achieve and can achieve greater results, but where we’re going is making it just faster and more efficient.”

One of Martin’s main goals for the company is an outreach program to serve patients in developing nations who don’t have access to prosthetics. Martin explained the problem is threefold. Most parts of the world don’t have a trained clinician who has years of experience fitting a hard piece of plastic to the human body. They also don’t have the tools or resources, or lab equipment to fabricate a conventional prosthetic. Lastly, they don’t have the funding to support buying the components.

“Our technology overcomes all three of those,” said Martin. “The hard cost of making our technology is very scalable. We can train a layperson anywhere in the world to fit our prosthetic technology and to provide a long-lasting, comfortable prosthetic, and we only need simple hand tools. We don’t need expensive fabrication lab equipment. Missionaries will backpack into villages and fit our socket technology on amputees in real-time with simple hand tools and have amazing results.”

Jay Martin will be speaking at the Oklahoma Venture Forum Power Lunch on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. Martin said he is excited to share with the community some of what’s unfolding for them at Martin Bionics. Be sure to register for the online ZOOM event to learn more about turning around a business, asking your questions, and networking with entrepreneurs in Oklahoma.

Profile: Stacy Eads

Expediting decision-making processes during stressful times with the OODA Loop

Written by me for the Oklahoma Venture Forum.

Before becoming an International Business Coach, Stacy Eads had been the CEO of a Norman technology company for over a decade when she fell in love with the book, Scaling Up by Verne Harnish.

“I grew Levant 600% of its size while I was a CEO, and I started to figure out that maybe that’s where my true personal niche lies and that I wanted an opportunity to maybe break away, become a coach, and be able to help more businesses than just be an employee of one company in particular,” Stacy Eads said.

For Eads’ presentation for December’s OVF power lunch, she will teach a tool that helps expedite decision-making processes during stressful times, especially with all of the pandemic’s pivots. The OODA Loop, which stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act, has helped her clientele make better designs during moments of fight or flight.

“Whenever they have a year that’s like 2020 again,” Eads explained, “or all of the things that have been happening with COVID-19, they have a tool that they can go back to and say, ‘I know how to calm down. I know how to look at the facts. I know how to orient myself to those facts. Make a decision, act and start my loop again, so that I have a fast, quick decision-making tool that gives me confidence in my business to proceed.’”

Eads said one of the things she loves about the tool is that the first step is to make sure that you observe that you’re observing facts only. She explained that when people are in a crisis mode, their emotions are at play or there is competing information, and they’re unsure which way to go.

“We don’t want our emotions, we don’t want our opinions or what we think is going to happen, but we just want to observe the facts that are around us,” Eads said. “What do we know? And what do we not know? And that initial pinpoint of the exercise is one of the things that I think is the most fruitful.”

Stacy Eads will be speaking at the Oklahoma Venture Forum Power Lunch on Wednesday, December 9, 2020. Be sure to register for the online ZOOM event to learn more about OODA, ask your questions, and network with entrepreneurs in Oklahoma. As an Oklahoma City business coach and somebody who travels among North America helping CEOs, Eads is excited about having the opportunity to speak to the Oklahoma Venture Forum.

“Many of them might’ve even heard of the OODA loop before, but maybe they have not put it into the perspective of how to use the OODA loop within the year 2020, and within the type of anxiety that CEOs are having these days,” Eads said. “The types of pivots that they’re making during this pandemic. So I’m excited to take an old concept that’s been around for decades and maybe breathe in some new life into what the year 2020 has to offer.”

Profile: Lisa Mullen

Written by me for the Oklahoma Venture Forum.

As a smart truck and trailer movement leader, Drōv Technologies enables intelligent and safe technology in the transportation industry. They’re developing the AirBoxOne, which controls tire inflation and deflation on the trailer dynamically based on the vehicle’s load.

“As the trailer’s loaded, it calculates the optimal tire pressure and adjust accordingly,” explained Lisa Mullen, CEO of Drōv Technologies. “Then, in that same box, we have set an IoT gateway that will connect to sensor capabilities around the trailer. Everything from the door lock, GPS, accelerometer, refrigeration, temperature, wheel-end temperature, light out detection, camera, cargo sensing capabilities, just to name a few of the initial feature sets.”

The benefits of the system include safety and financial ROI. There are fuel efficiency savings that come with standard tire inflation and management. In terms of safety, having correctly inflated and managed tires will prevent critical issues such as blowouts or leaks that lead to that.

“Our system can detect not only typical leaks like when you roll over something, but we can get down to valve stem leaks,” Mullen said. “And diagnose situations that could ultimately, if left undiagnosed, become bigger problems for the fleet.”

In addition to leak issues, AirBoxOne can diagnose if bearings are heating up or if the temperature on wheel ends are getting to a critical level and prevent wheel end fires. The system can alert the driver and the fleet of those issues to avoid situations that might occur if it gets to a critical level.

Mullen’s involvement with Drōv Technologies started when a group of investors and business partners bought the company when it was just a mechanical tire inflation product. During evaluations, they made the bold decision to take all of the previous products off the market and re-engineer the wheel-end componentry.

“While we did that, we took a look at the market and said, ‘There’s all this money going into technology and the truck, and there’s no technology or very little going into the trailer,'” Mullen said. “In addition to that, we had the notion of inflating and deflating on load, but we had a prototype we hadn’t flushed that out. With what was not happening in the market for the trailer side but what was happening on the truck, we thought let’s make this more of a technology solution. We’ve spent the last few years building out a comprehensive technology solution that can lead the trailer industry from now into the future.”

Mullen is excited about Drōv’s position to continue developing the future of trailer technology.

“We’re being challenged and asked about technology that leans towards working with autonomous trucks or say advanced safety features that aren’t offered in the market and the way that we’ve built our platform, unlike anyone else in the industry, is really in an open and agnostic way that we can receive and we can work on those capabilities,” Mullen said. “The future for me is about development and really pushing the industry forward and maybe disrupting processes in the ways that people think about the trailer industry. And then there’ll be an integration into the truck side as well.”

Mullen credits the company’s success to her incredible team of engineers and product people, business people, and an office culture that’s inviting. Mullen wants an environment where people are excited to arrive at work each day.

“You want to work at a place that facilitates a culture that you know you’re doing something meaningful and interesting in your job, but you also really enjoy the people that you work with,” Mullen said. “I think that it’s important to show people that if you’re the CEO, you will go out still and sweep the floor if it needs to be swept or you’ll pack boxes or sort inventory that we’re all in it together. I think that conveying to people that, ‘A, what we’re doing is amazing and you should be proud of yourself, but we’re also proud of you in terms of the work you’re putting in.’ I think a lot of times, people in management positions assume that people know that they’re appreciated because they’re doing good work, but it’s important to remind people every day that what they’re doing is incredible and valued, and they are valued.” 

Lisa Mullen will be speaking at the Oklahoma Venture Forum Power Lunch on Wednesday, November 11, 2020. Be sure to register for the online ZOOM event to learn more about DROV, ask your questions, and connect with other entrepreneurs in Oklahoma. 

Profile: Michael Carolina

Written by for the Oklahoma Venture Forum.

For over 30 years, the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST) has been the state’s agency for technology development, technology transfer, and technology commercialization. With Governor Kevin Stitt’s goal to make Oklahoma a Top 10 state, OCAST is doing its part through partnerships and collaborations to stimulate economic development and technology-based economic development.

“We help to get science and technology projects, support those through our grant process and elevate Oklahoma’s science and technology community so that we’re competitive nationally as well as globally,” explained OCAST’s Executive Director, Michael Carolina. “We have some leading-edge researchers and research companies that benefit from OCAST’s grants, and they’re able to attract federal grants as well as private money from the private sector to accelerate research to commercialization or conversion; the conversion of technology to the marketplace.”

With the task to grow and diversify Oklahoma’s economy, Carolina described his job as atypical. Before joining OCAST, he worked in management and executive positions with the Western Electric Company, AT&T and Lucent Technologies. While with AT&T and Lucent Technologies, he was involved in engineering, strategic planning, new product design and introduction, manufacturing, technology transfer, and joint venture operations in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

“I think in Oklahoma, we have an asset base here that’s pretty rich. Again, with our higher education system, with our industrial complex that includes energy and includes aerospace and defense, bioscience, biotechnology, information technology, manufacturing, healthcare,” Carolina said. “The healthcare industry is growing, and so I think there are a lot of things that we can point to that are strengths in a global economy.”

One example of OCAST’s success stories, which Carolina plans to discuss during his presentation for OVF, is the work of Craig Shimasaki at Moleculera Labs. 

“[Moleculera Labs] is doing some work now on the impact of COVID or the correlation of COVID and brain health and mental health,” Carolina said. “That’s a real success story. Craig Shimasaki was able to take an OCAST grant and leverage that with federal dollars as well as private investment to move the autism spectrum along. Hopefully, we’ll have some effective treatments for it.”

From research to pre-seed dollars to seed capital dollars to manufacturing through intern partnerships, OCAST is developing the local talent base Oklahoma needs to go forward and keep the state from losing engineering STEM talent.

“If we have the kind of industrial base that’s attractive to our graduates when they leave our higher education system, they’re more likely to stay in the state because they have jobs in their specific areas of study,” explained Carolina. “We can organically grow our own businesses from scratch. And that’s basically our task as OCAST, to help businesses grow organically.”

For Oklahoma to be top 10 in more areas, Carolina said it would require some strategic investment. By taking advantage of our geography, educational assets at the university level, industrial base, and the pioneer spirit of Oklahoma’s citizens, he believes we can make a difference and make Oklahoma relevant and competitive on a national and international scale.

“It requires working with our politicians, our legislature, the governor, and his team saying, how do we coalesce those assets, so that Oklahoma becomes not a Silicon Valley, but we can become a technology corridor,” Carolina said.

Michael Carolina will be speaking at the Oklahoma Venture Forum Power Lunch on Wednesday, October 14, 2020. Be sure to register for the online ZOOM event to learn more about OCAST, ask your questions, and network with entrepreneurs in Oklahoma. As a member, he encourages others to join the community and help with new ideas. He is looking to addressing the OVF and having some dialogue about where people think we should go next.

Profile: David Jankowsky

With origins in the solar-power industry, David Jankowsky saw a problem in the electric vehicle market. With billions going into EV technology, Jankowsky noticed little of that funding was going towards infrastructure. While Tesla Motors may have popularized the electric car and built their superchargers, they ’re all closed source.

“We know there ’s literally going to be hundreds of car manufacturers in the next five, ten years coming out with electric vehicles, and they would not be able to use the Tesla superchargers, so we solved that problem,” said Jankowsky.“We developed and installed universal chargers, so any car in the world can use them, including Tesla drivers. We solved the range-anxiety issue, meaning no one ’s going to buy a car if there ’s no infrastructure to fuel them if they ’re away from their home.”

The Francis EV Charging Network solved range anxiety in Oklahoma by having a charging station every 50 miles. One could travel from Broken Bow to Guymon in their electric car. Jankowsky notes that one may have to drive 10 to 20 miles out of the way to access a charger because they currently don ’t have enough in Oklahoma. The first phase of the network features 225 fast-charging stations across 109 strategically located sites in Oklahoma, including small towns.

“We’ve done a lot of rural development, and we basically said, ‘We’ll bring a charger here, pay for everything, and it ’s going to cause basically drivers that have been stuck on the highways at the travel stops at the gas stations, they ’re going to have to come into your town to charge, and by the way, they ’re going to be captive there for about 60 minutes,’” said Jankowsky.“When we go to the travel stops on the highways, no one wants to wait 60 minutes to charge their car, so that ’s where we ’ve put in super-duper chargers, we got to call them something at some point, they can charge cars in seven to nine or 10 minutes. That ’s very much equivalent to current gas stations.”

The public infrastructure for EVs is not going to look the same when compared to gas. Jankowsky sees electric stations being more“ubiquitous” as they ’ll be able to go everywhere and anywhere. When people are at the office, shopping for groceries, or eating a meal, there ’ll be a charger.

“There won ’t be like six chargers on one corner, and six chargers on another corner like you see in the gas space, and there ’s a variety of reasons for that,” said Jankowsky.“It ’s not going to develop the same way gas stations developed because quite simply, you don ’t need as many out there as you do gas pumps because people can charge their car at home typically at night, which is where about 90% of the charging is going to take place.”

As a startup in Oklahoma, Jankowsky finds people are surprised to learn they we able to install 225 superchargers across the state.

“That ’s never been done before,” said Jankowsky.“Our largest competitors are definitely not doing 250 charging stations a year, and I mean, we ’re just one data point, but Oklahoma really has, and I preach this to everyone that will listen, we have this unique ability or position where we could be the EV capital of the world, both in terms of the technology, so there ’s a lot of technology in these chargers, it ’s mostly software-based technology, we have the manufacturing capabilities to do it here.”

Looking forward to the future, Francis Energy is expanding into 30 states to build the network out from Oklahoma. There are also plans to upgrade existing stations, which they ’ll continue to do until Oklahoma can take care of every car on the road. In addition to the expansions, they ’re working on an app.

Like competitors, the app will allow users to find stations, initiate a charge, offer a discount, and more. One feature Jankowsky explained is that people will be able to stay in their car and connect to a free wifi hotspot while they wait for a delivery. Stations are separately addressed, allowing orders to come directly to that charging station.

“There are so many cool things that we can do with the software that ’s in the chargers themselves to create this great user experience,” said Jankowsky.“It ’s not perfected yet, and so some of our concern is we have drivers out there that are using our stations that might not be having the best experience, and we want to let people know, ‘Hey, this is new. This is novel. We ’re working on the bugs, we ’re working on the kinks, but it ’s going to be great, just stay patient with us, and then here ’s what we ’re doing to help the user experience.’”

David Jankowsky will be speaking at the Oklahoma Venture Forum Power Lunch on Wednesday, September 9th, 2020. Be sure to register for the online ZOOM event to learn more about Francis Renewable Energy, hear a Pitch Presentation by HyQ Technologies, and to network with entrepreneurs an innovators in Oklahoma. Read more about the September Pitch Presenter below. 

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