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ActivArmor Founder Diana Hall Discusses Casts For Active Lifestyles

Introduction

Around 6.3 million skeletal fractures occur in the United States every year. And that means a similar number of casts are needed to hold all those mending bones together. Doodling on a friend’s cast might be fun, but it’s usually a different story for the patient. Traditional casts can cause swelling, they’re not allowed to get wet, and they can stink after days of not washing the skin within.

ActivArmor offers 3D casts and splints that empower patients to maintain active, hygienic lifestyles. The company uses a simple iPhone scan to design custom casts, and the results are breathable, waterproof, and sanitizable. We reached out to founder, President, and CEO Diana Hall to hear more about the company’s partnerships and its pandemic experience.

Note: This interview was conducted over phone and email. It has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Jacob Belorousou

How is ActivArmor transforming the cast industry?

Diana Hall

ActivArmor is the only sanitizable, washable, breathable cast on the market. Our casts are revolutionizing fracture-care and the archaic era of not being able to practice basic hygiene like washing your hands, especially during a global pandemic. ActivArmor gives doctors the ability to observe and treat patients’ skin while healing and to make needed adjustments for incisions, hardware, or changes due to swelling or atrophy. The casts accommodate advanced healing technologies like bone stimulators and ultrasound and allow people to continue their active lifestyles like swimming, sweating, doing the dishes, and just taking a bath or shower. They’re covered by insurance, and even if a patient pays with cash, they cost less than the two casts they normally replace through the healing phases. For all these reasons — including the ability to reduce infection rates and improve patients’ quality of life — ActivArmor is disrupting the status quo of traditional casting methods in trauma-care and orthopedics.

Jacob Belorousou

Who is on your team and how did you come together?

Diana Hall

I have an amazing group of advisors that fill in my knowledge gaps and staff that continuously goes above and beyond because they believe in our mission. Some of my top advisors are Dr. Lex Schultheis, regulatory expert; Dr. Ralph Bovard, founder of Exos; Don Summers, intellectual property expert; and Dr. Kevin Kaplan, orthopedic surgeon and team physician for the Jacksonville Jaguars, to name a few. Many of them saw what I was trying to do and wanted to help, and others I sought out as experts in their fields. With regard to my staff, I started with people I knew and trusted from my many years of working in engineering and software and then added on those that were a good culture fit for our mission.

Jacob Belorousou

What does the competitive landscape look like, and how do you differentiate? What is the price difference with your competitors?

Diana Hall

With eight years in the US market, hundreds of referring physicians, and thousands of happy patients, we are the global market leaders in 3D printed casting. In addition to partnering with hospitals and clinics across the US, we are now in five other countries, including Canada, South Africa, Greece, Australia, and in the Middle East. There are a few other companies trying to market thin, brittle 3D printed splints and a couple of companies selling stock sleeves that can be injected with resins and hardened onto the arm, but these run the risk of skin breakdown, noncompliance, and window edema. There are also standard-design, off-the-shelf splints that are heat molded, but they smell and can cause skin breakdown over time and must be taken off and dried out if they get wet, putting the patient’s fracture at risk. 

We differentiate by offering fully custom designs with no inventory to buy or stock in strong, protective, waterproof, breathable, washable materials, with adjustability and also lockability for patient compliance. Our products are covered by insurance, unlike traditional cast waterproofing materials, and since they are reusable, adjustable, and convert from casts to splints with the patients through the healing phases, they end up costing less than traditional casts and splints.

Jacob Belorousou

How do you intend to use the money you raise this round to scale the business?

Diana Hall

We are investing in partnerships with tech hardware and software leaders to bring the fully custom design and fabrication systems into clinics by the end of the year. Doctors will be able to scan patients’ limbs with their iPhone, custom design, and manufacture with a turnkey process in real time, and patients will be able to get their casts in a matter of hours, at a cost lower than traditional casting. This will allow the product to become the next-generation standard of care!

Jacob Belorousou

Can you explain why your revenue decreased between 2020 and 2021?

Diana Hall

Absolutely, and we couldn’t be more proud of the reason! In 2020, COVID-19 hit, and we had 12 hospitals/clinics slated to open as ActivArmor providers that could not because of canceled elective surgeries, sports shutdowns, and clinic restrictions. So while our cast sales numbers stayed steady that year, we heard there was a need for custom-fitted N-95 masks and immediately stepped in to fill the need. Our transparent personal protective equipment (PPE) patent was chosen by the United States Patent and Trademark Office for fast track, and we manufactured and sold more than $250,000 of facemasks in 2020. When demand for PPE dropped, we licensed out the PPE patent and shifted our focus back to custom casting. (If you take the temporary PPE sales out of the equation, there was no drop in cast sale revenue.) In 2021, we refocused on innovating to improve the ease of access of our custom casts to patients nationwide with a free 3D scanning app for iPhone. Having proven demand and market acceptance of the products, we are now investing further in the design automation and decentralized fabrication so that our company can truly scale!

Jacob Belorousou

As you think about the business 5-10 years down the road, how can the company become profitable? What do you see exit opportunities looking like?

Diana Hall

By decentralizing production and offering a turnkey in-clinic fabrication system, we will be able to reduce our manufacturing overhead costs, offer our design and support services to clinics at a third of the price, and reduce turnaround times from days to a few hours. With this new business model, we are planning to hit breakeven sales within six months of package launch and reach $3 million to $5 million in sales within two years. This will position us for sale of the company or for a venture capital Series A round and further scaling, depending on market conditions.

We look forward to seeing where Diana and her team take the company. ActivArmor is currently raising on StartEngine.

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