London business faces Dragons
Credit: DRAGONS' DEN
Mitchell Brogan brought his proposal to the Dragons on CBC's Dragons' Den.
Able Bionics, a gait rehabilitation company based in London that helps people who have been injured to walk again, took their product and business plan to the Dragons on Dragons’ Den.
Mitchell Brogan, the president of Able Bionics, modeled how the product his company markets helps those who have lost the ability to walk.
Brogan is a quadriplegic after being hit by a drunk driver while cycling.
Brogan’s own spinal cord injury instigated his interest in gait rehabilitation and led him to found Able Bionics. He said his injury was much higher up along the spinal cord than most, leaving him with much less functionality in all four of his limbs.
But Brogan did not let his injury stop him from dreaming big.
After researching which devices would best suit his needs, Brogan discovered a New Zealand based company that manufactured a fully-balancing exoskeleton, also called a robotic walking device. He traveled to test out the equipment for himself and said he knew instantly that it was something he had to provide to others.
“As soon as I went up and down stairs, that’s when I knew,” he said.
Brogan was the first person in North America to walk using a Rex Bionics exoskeleton. He then made it his mission to bring the life-changing technology to Canadians.
“Everybody should have the option [to walk again], and that option just wasn’t available in the region, so we decided to make that happen,” Brogan said.
Able Bionics uses exoskeletons to assist people to stand, sit, walk or even use stairs. The company provides therapy and training at their London location and also serves as a retailer for exoskeletons.
Able Bionic’s pitch to the Dragons was ultimately successful, earning the company a $250,000 loan to be paid back in three years with 3.5 per cent interest in order to fund a marketing and sales strategy. All five Dragons pitched in on the deal and Brogan couldn’t be happier.
“I think that the response we received is probably the best kind of response anybody could ever desire from the show, validation from all five Dragons and in the end a deal.”
Brogan’s pitch even brought one of the Dragons, Michele Romanow, to tears. Dragon Michael Wekerle said Brogan’s exoskeleton made him look like Robocop. Jokes aside, Brogan said the outcome of the pitch was incredible.
“It was a shock to get it from all five Dragons and for them to all throw something into the pot was probably the most amazing thing that could have ever happened. I feel honoured that they all saw something in what we are doing that they all wanted to be a part of.”
According to Sari Shatil, a physiotherapist at Able Bionics, one in every 100 Canadians uses a wheelchair as their main mode of transportation.
Able Bionics is helping to bring life-changing scientific advances to North Americans.
Brogan’s company gives the gift of independence and returns customers a sense of normalcy.
Brogan’s opening line to the Dragons says it all. “Sometimes our adversities can lead us to opportunity.” Brogan’s adversity led him to found a business that helps others, and that was clearly something the Dragons could not help but want to be a part of.