06 October 2015

Frustrated with Traditional Medical Innovation, Marine Corps Veteran Becomes Unlikely Entrepreneur



Derek Herrera has the quintessential passion of an entrepreneur. He wants to solve problems quickly and efficiently. However, the Marine Corps Veteran never intended to be out of uniform and on his own entrepreneurial journey.

But, on a deployment to Afghanistan in 2012, Herrera was hit by an enemy bullet and instantly paralyzed from the chest down. He was evacuated from the combat zone and during his rehabilitation journey; he was inspired to create his own company, Spinal Singularity.

Through researching his own injury and being a patient in several clinical studies, Herrera quickly became frustrated with the long, drawn-out process of medical innovation. The academic and medical community seemed to focus on scientific advancement, but Herrera wanted practical solutions to the real-life issues he and others faced. And, he didnt want to wait several years.

So, Herrera took action. Shortly after medically retiring from the military, he began his MBA course work from UCLA and started the process of building a team to tackle problems associated with spinal cord injuries. He cold-called medical experts, engineers, and doctors in search of partners and learned as much as he could about the industry.

In 2014, Herrera was also able to attend the Patriot Boot Camp in New York City. This intensive three-day conference was aimed at helping Veterans create technology start-ups. Here, Herrera was exposed to the world of entrepreneurship and met mentors and experts that helped him go on to start Spinal Singularity.

Currently, Spinal Singularity is working on launching its first product that helps people with neurogenic bladder, a condition often associated with spinal cord injuries that results in the inability to sense a full bladder or control the release of urine. The product is called the Connected Catheter and it uses smart technology to alert a person when their bladder is full and eliminates the need for traditional catheters.

The Connect Catheter provides the life changing, innovative medical solutions that Herrera was inspired to create. Before this product, a person with neurogenic bladder had to insert traditional, intermittent catheters 5-10 times per day in order to relive the bladder. Now, rather than using over 200 catheters a month, the Connected Catheter can be easily inserted and remain for 30 days creating a less painful and frustrating process. It will greatly enhance a persons quality of life.

Herrera is also working fast. He has launched a crowd-funding campaign aimed to get the Connected Catheter out of development and helping people as quickly as possible. The campaign has already reached 45% funding.

While Herrera never planned on being an entrepreneur, his personal experience and desire to solve painful problems propelled him on the unexpected journey. Hes embraced his new role and is working tirelessly to ensure that the Connected Catheter improves peoples quality of life.

To learn more and support the crowdfunding campaign, go here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-connected-catheter-by-spinal-singularity#/story

If youre a Veteran interested in technology start-ups, check out the Patriot Boot Camp.

Author: Cameron Smith is an Army Officer who recently took the leap into full-time entrepreneurship.

Read more Command Posts, here!

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