In otherwise normal times, hospitals produce more than 5 million tons of waste every year, according to Greenhealth. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has been scarce for the past two years and it has been widely reported that: some had to reuse which is typically a single-use item, such as surgical gowns.
MEDUa Mexico-based startup, wants to reduce that waste and replace single-use medical apparel by creating a line of durable, virus-resistant reusable pieces, including surgical gowns, headgear and full-body suits.
The company was founded in 2020 by CEO Tamara Chayo, a chemist and Thiel Fellow, who had family in the medical and textile industries and saw firsthand the need for personal protective equipment. She and her team started researching substances to see which viruses could capture, and when they got positive test results from the lab, they formed MEDU.
The products are made with fabric that is certified level 4 AAMI PB70the highest liquid and microbial barrier protection, providing maximum protection against particles, viruses and bacteria, she told businesskinda.com.
The company started trials in Mexican hospitals, backed by an initial investment of $400,000, to test and certify the results and see if doctors liked the products.
“Doctors said ours were comfortable for them, but we adapted and learned a lot from that experience,” Chayo said. “The products can be reused for up to 50 washes, so you can use the same dress instead of putting on a different one, saving money and waste.”
To find out those 50 washes, the built-in Near Field Communication (NFC) technology in the garments is tracked in real time and caregivers are informed about how often a gown has been washed via a mobile app. After the 50 wears, the garment is returned to MEDU facilities where it is then disinfected and converted into scrubs and sustainable packaging.
The company is profitable and continues to grow its sales at a rate of 6x per month. Since January, it has deployed about 7,000 devices, which, according to Chayo, equates to 3 million disposables.
By the end of 2022, the company aims to replace more than 20 million single-use PPE jackets and dispose of 6,000 tons of hospital waste from landfills or incinerators. In addition, the company has doubled in size and partners with hospitals in New York and Los Angeles.
The supply chain remains a major challenge, and MEDU is one of the startups that has emerged on the scene over the past two years to help hospitals and healthcare providers get the equipment and personal protective equipment they need. That includes bttn, which raised $20 million in Series A funds in June for its medical supplies market, helping doctors get the supplies they need faster and at a better cost.
MEDU itself is now flush with $4 million in seed funding in a round led by MaC Venture Capital, with participation from Halcyon Fund and a group of angel investors, including Ryan Shea.
The funding fuels the company’s growth as it expands into the US and continues development of its full-body suit. Chayo plans to partner with up to 15 US hospitals by the end of the year.
She explained that the decision to go after venture capital was to find partners who would help the company grow. She believes MaC Venture Capital fits that bill — it was already an investor in healthcare companies — and could provide the company with hands-on support as MEDU looked to improve and expand in the United States.
MEDU is working on U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for its garments, which Chayo expects later this year. It is also seeking approval in the European Union and is going to build relationships in Israel. The company has already obtained approval in Mexico and is collaborating with five hospitals there.
Chayo’s personality, audacity and background as a chemist with family in the medical and textile industries made investing in MEDU “one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made,” Michael Palank, general manager at MaC Venture Capital, told businesskinda.com.
“You can’t script this,” he added. “The traction she has pre-FDA approval, including trials in some of the largest known hospitals in the US, but also those hospitals are introducing her to other hospitals, which is the best form of customer acquisition. MEDU is also doing well in Mexico, where it is located in one of the largest hospitals in the country. This cannot be a global business anymore, and it will become very big very soon.”
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