By Michael Bradley
There are 3,000 falcons spread throughout the United Arab Emirates that owe their pain-free flight to a laser treatment from Litecure, a Newark-based technology company with a pioneering solution for injury recovery.
The 10-year-old company has customers in 40 different countries and has helped countless people and creatures of all kinds shorten their rehabilitation processes after injuries. Using high-powered lasers emanating from a wand attached to a box not much larger than a car battery, physicians and therapists can help cells regenerate quickly while eliminating inflammation.
"Our focus is that we are selling solutions to veterinarians and rehabilitation professionals," said Andy Wood, Litecure's export manager. "Of course it encompasses more than just having the [laser] box."
Lately, Litecure has encompassed much more than just its technology. Over the past three years, it has grown significantly in the international market and has added to its menu of services. The result has been growth and expansion while keeping the competition a step (or more) behind.
During a recent trip to Germany as part of a Global Delaware Trade Mission, Litecure was able to create stronger bonds with partners in that country for future work.
"Litecure has developed a focused strategy that has allowed it to determine which countries are best suited for them," said Beth Pomper, an Export Advisor for Global Delaware. "They have produced a budget that gives them the best bang for their buck."
In early March, Litecure won the Strategic Exporter of the Year Award from the Delaware Manufacturing Extension Partnership, winning a "Shark Tank"-style competition that featured an audience of commerce professionals' voting for the winner. The three-team competition involved alumni of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership's ExporTech training program that helps companies assemble and execute plans to develop business abroad.
"Litecure was well prepared, confident and not tepid in its presentation," said Jim Jones, DEMEP's director
of new business development. "It understood what had to be done."
Litecure's Wood isn't a scientist, but he is able to explain Litecure's laser healing process in a way that lets the layperson understand its positive effects. He likens the light energy it emits to a photosynthesis of sorts for injured tissues. It feels warm when applied and it targets the damaged cells in perhaps a human's sprained ankle or in the wound on a dog. Those cells have locked onto a nitrous oxide molecule and are unable to produce ATP, or adenosine triphosphate, a nucleotide that helps carry energy between cells. The laser breaks the bond between the cell and the N2O molecule and allows for rapid healing.
"If you tore your hamstring playing football and went to a physical therapist, they would get you back playing in six weeks," Wood said. "If you added the laser, it would take three. It's not magic or voodoo. It works at a cellular level to promote healing."
It's entirely fitting that Wood uses an athletic example to describe Litecure's laser treatments because the company's products can be found in the training rooms for sports teams across the country. In 2008, the physical therapist for the NBA's Boston Celtics acquired one of the Litecure machines and used it on two of the team's top players, Paul Pierce (knee) and Kevin Garnett (abdominal muscles), and then bought three more.
Since then, Litecure's laser can be found in more than 100 professional and big-time college team training rooms. Included are 28 of 30 Major League Baseball squads and most of the National Hockey League clubs. The trainer for the New York Rangers is also the trainer for the Canadian Olympic ice hockey team, and he took the device with him to Sochi for the 2014 Olympic Games, where Canada won the gold medal.
"We have a picture of the laser with a gold medal around it," Wood said.
Litecure has worked assiduously to build relationships with foreign distributors, applying the lessons it learned during the ExporTech training program, which Jones describes as a "three-day intensive drink from a fire hose lesson" that is so concentrated, it takes place one day a month for three months. The first day covers logistics, compliance and contracts. After that, companies get hands-on information that allows them to learn exactly what to do in various countries in order to be successful.
Wood gives an example of Litecure's success in Denmark, where in 2016 the company found a small distributor that had a rather conservative approach to marketing the laser device. Initially, the distributor thought it could do $75,000 in business, but it ended up with $135,000 in revenues, a figure Wood expects it to surpass easily this year.
Litecure's strong network of international relationships is a big reason for its optimism about the future, but so is its new offering, platelet-rich plasma therapy. In the procedure, blood is removed from a patient - human or animal - and spun at high speeds in a centrifuge to remove the platelets. The platelets are then injected back into the patient to spur healing. Professional athletes like Kobe Bryant have used PSP treatments, and Wood said they have benefits for a wide spectrum of people and animals and fit into
a sensible continuum.
"Suppose you have a 9- or-10-year-old Labrador that starts getting a little stiff," Wood said. "We have a device, a stance analyzer, that can detect arthritis. In the early stages, the owner can adjust its diet and add some exercises. As the dog gets older, and the arthritis gets worse, instead of anti-inflammatory medication, the vet can use our laser. As it gets older and in more pain, it can take a PSP injection."
"There are options available," he added.