MEET THE STARTUP: NOVIPEL
How it all started – sex toys or medical devices?
2013 was the year I joined a group from DTU (The Technical University of Denmark) and KADK (The Royal Danish Academy of Design) and the year we hatched the initial idea, of changing the way we think about the unthinkable. As green as can be, we were open towards everything and everybody. The initial ideas ranged from a couple of sex toys, which could process live bio input of lovers and output a data driven “interaction” to more hardcore medical devices. We ended up somewhere in the middle with a research driven runway strategy to provide patients and practitioners, with a method of understanding how training pelvic floor muscles fights incontinence.
The first real step towards a start-up dream, which we later named NoviPel
We presented our first prototype and business plan at the DTU App Garage Pitch Competition late 2013. We came in second, just behind another Danish startup, who had just raised a round of crowdfunding. As we were in R&D mode, we had not raised any money yet, but were really happy to be told that first and second position were neck-to-neck.
Our team started to grow
2014 – the company grew with new members and new skills. We welcomed much needed electrical assistance and experienced leadership onboard. Pelvy was our first name (but we changed it to NoviPel after we were accepted into the first batch of Danish Tech Challenge.)
With 4 out of 6 people on the team still in school, a typical day was all work and very little free time. As the youngest team at DTC, we felt like we had to prove that whatever we lacked in experience, we would make up for in sheer determination. We had heard you had to fail fast to be successful, so we did all the errors possible. Nonetheless we were surprised and truly proud, when the finalists were announced.
Impressing the Crown Prince of Denmark…
We had fought alongside 22 companies, with highly experienced people and now had a spot on the stage with 5 other finalists. Now we just needed to put together our pitch deck, to impress the crown prince of Denmark and the jury. Filled with joy we got together for the final rehearsal, only to find out that someone had beat us to the finish line. With despair, we watched as a product, based on the exact same technology and marketing had hit the world hours before our rehearsal in front of the DTC companies. This was devastating; we couldn´t believe our eyes as all the big tech and women magazines around the world had featured articles. From ecstasy to horror in a matter of 60 seconds.
It’s not about how far or fast you fall….
But as everybody knows; it’s not about how far down you go, it’s about how fast you pop up again. We went back to doing what we do best; R&D. Admittedly with a bit of depression and compulsive drinking. Dazed and confused we came up with our best sensor to date. Being cornered we had fought back and delivered a truly unique and novel device. We demoed our idea in front of the DTC administration and got back in the fight for the final prize of 500.000 DKK and stardom.
Blood sweat and tears….
As one disaster rarely hits alone, it should not have come as a big surprise, as three team members were informed about their family members‘ sudden encounter with a case of bacterial meningitis induced coma, late stage Parkinson’s and a stroke, weeks before the finals. It must be a sign, to keep fighting. It takes blood, sweat and tears to grow anything, worth growing. Especially if your product aims to make the world a place of less suffering. We did not win. We did not lose. The finals were amazing and the winner deserved the fame. We had gotten through and were stronger than ever. DTC gave us an experience for a lifetime, and helped noviPel become what it is today.
Renewed Energy at COBIS
2015 was the year of renewed energy and the year where we moved from R&D to actual business development. People had noticed us and we were offered offices at a VC company looking for a future partnership. Stoked, we accepted and started working from our first real office. Still lacking funding, all our spare money went to the company, with growing costs as we had to bring in legal help with our patent application and general company structure. We decided that we were not mature enough for venture capital and started a focus on soft money instead. We moved offices to COBIS and joined the ranks of other great medtech startups.
2016 brought along a shift in focus as we needed to fund our ideas and patents do not come cheap. This meant that we had to look for some serious funding, as our spare change could not fund this project forever. We were granted a double grant by Innovationsfonden; an “Iværksætterpilot” for a team member and a full “Innobooster”. During 2017 we matched the public funding with private funding and are now ready to hit the market.
We are happy to announce that 2017 will be the year for our market launch, after 3 years of hard work, filled with ups and downs. Thanks to all that helped, fought and co-created. In a time where all are trying to go out into the world to find themselves, noviPel looks inside for the answer. Wanna join in, got questions or wanna hear more of this story? Reach out, we are always open for a coffee date.