Newark-based TheraV makes the Elix, a non-prescription device that uses vibration to combat neuropathic pain.
[caption id="attachment_36188" align="alignright" width="189"] Amira Idris[/caption]
Founder Amira Idris received her bachelor's degree from the University of Delaware in 2015 and her master's in entrepreneurship and design through UD's Horn Entrepreneurship program in 2016.
Q: How did you spot the need for the device?
Amira Idris: In my junior year as an undergraduate student, I had the chance to work in a prosthetic clinic through a course called clinical immersion. Phantom pain kept coming up in conversation. One of the patients "¦ had pain in his limb every day. Many people take really strong opioids - and they're not taking just one pill a day. That put me down the path of trying to find a drug-free alternative.
Q: How did being a member of the women's track and field team help you realize that vibration might be a solution?
AI: Some people said massage was one way to mitigate the pain. By chance, I was making up a workout at the gym where there was a vibrating platform [used for exercise and rehab]. It was a lightbulb moment. Initially, I had the idea of taking the vibrating platform and shrinking it down to fit on a limb.
Q: How did you go from idea to product?
AI: I learned about the Horn program's pitch competition. I built a simple prototype, so people had a good visual. I
went to the fashion department, and a professor, Adriana Gorea, sewed a pocket on a sock, and I bought motors on Amazon.com. I ended up getting third place, and that's when I knew I had something.
[Idris went on to win $2,500 in the 2016 Swim with the Sharks Video Pitch Competition, sponsored by the Emerging Enterprise Center, a New Castle County Chamber of Commerce initiative. She also took first place at the College Pitch Philly in 2017.]
The Horn Entrepreneurship program taught me about methodology and how to spot the need in the market. It connected me with the funds, resources and contacts to help me further develop my product. Solidified in Newark helped me develop the prototype into a version I could use to get feedback from people in the prosthetic clinic. Then it went from a long vibrating sock to a shorter vibrating sock. People didn't want to wear another sock - it gets hot. It eventually became a vibrating wrap.
[caption id="attachment_36189" align="alignright" width="300"] Elix by TheraV[/caption]
Q: Is the Elix considered a medical device?
AI: If you start using medical claims, you have to get approval from the FDA. I'd like to get that in the future, but that costs money. Right now, I'm helping people manage their pain, and as we get more feedback on the device,
we can make more specific claims.