Startup Stories: Komodo OpenLab, More Technology for Handicapped People from Toronto
Our startup stories now bring us Komodo OpenLab, a startup created by two Mexican entrepreneurs, Mauricio Meza and Jorge Silva, and developed in Canada. This startup produces hardware and software that allows people who suffer from motor disability to have access to up-to-date technologies.
When was the startup created?
The company was founded in November 2010, in an effort to bring technology closer to handicapped people. The founders, Mauricio Meza and Jorge Silva, had worked in the rehabilitation and support technology fields and they had gotten frustrated with the existing technology for handicapped people.
How does the startup work?
Komodo OpenLab develops hardware and software that allows people who suffer from motor disability to have access to such technologies as smart phones, tablets and smart houses. The hardware allows users control these devices by using simple switches that require minimum effort to be activated. They can also be controlled by blinking or blowing. The device can also be installed on electric wheelchairs, so users can control the chair and gain access to its devices.
What’s your business model?
We’ve been selling hardware to date, but we’re about to launch a new device that helps relatives or the people taking care of a handicapped person receive such information as the location, temperature and light conditions of the place where the user is positioned; as well as the battery level and activity of the device. This service requires a monthly subscription.
Which have been the main outcomes?
So far, we have over 3,000 units marketed in some 30 countries around the world. We have launched 3 generations of our product and we have worked with some of the biggest technology companies of the world. Back in 2012, we were invited by Google to show Tecla during its developers’ conference.
What are your plans for 2017?
2017 marks the launch of Tecla-e, the latest generation of our hardware. This is an assistance device that will give users access to cutting-edge technology. We’re looking forward to go global with this product.
What do you make of the startup ecosystem in your country?
Though the founders of the company are Mexican entrepreneurs, Komodo was founded and developed in Canada. This country greatly supports the growth of startups that foster the development technology and innovation. There are supporting programs for innovation and marketing, which help companies reach market validation stages. Other programs, like tax incentives for research and development actions, also boos innovation within our companies. Finding investors is difficult, but this culture is changing step by step.
5 tips to be shared with other startups?
Canada (and especially Toronto) is a great access way into the U.S. market. I strongly recommend coming here if that’s the target market.
It’s highly important to create a contact network, since you never know where you can find an opportunity or contact
Startups sometimes are surrounded by secrecy, but being open and sharing information can open opportunities. If something can be easily copied, it might not be a good idea.
It’s important to get familiarized with your target industry. Some ideas seem to be easy from the distance, but the way the industry works shows that it’s quite the contrary.
The best thing to do is to launch a product and receive feedback as soon as possible.
Komodo OpenLab on social networks
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