People can eliminate diseases, get extra abilities, and live longer, more fulfilling lives in a diverse and inclusive world with the help of technology. That’s what Dima Gazda, CEO of the human enhancement startup Esper Bionics, believes in. He sees that, in the future, electronic implants will have the potential to make the most significant positive impact possible on humanity. Dima also believes that the fastest way to create the necessary infrastructure for electronic implants is by upgrading the prosthetics industry. The company’s first step in this direction is Esper Hand, an award-winning AI-powered prosthetic hand that moves intuitively with almost human-like dexterity. Esper Bionics expects to make the hand available to US customers this summer.
Founders: Dima Gazda, Anna Believantseva, Ihor Ilchenko
Offices: US, Germany, Ukraine
Founded in: 2019
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Esper Bionics is building the ecosystem of robotic prostheses to pave the way for electronic implants
Esper Bionics is a sustainable technological company set to create the necessary infrastructure for the future’s effective implementation and use of electronic implants. The startup has already taken several steps towards its goal. Their flagship product — the bionic hand prosthesis Esper Hand — has been successfully registered with the FDA. With this victory under their belt, Esper Bionics is planning to make the robotic hand available to US customers this summer and partner with several US insurance companies. Currently, the startup is beta testing the prosthesis at four clinics in New York.
Esper Bionics already has six users outside the US and four hundred people worldwide on its waitlist.
Today, 20 million people use prostheses, 99% of which are low-tech and in dire need to be replaced by more advanced solutions, including those that can predict the user’s movements.
“Esper Platform, our cloud-based platform to improve and individualize the control of wearables, collects data from every connected device to analyze every use case and upgrade the algorithms of device control. We expect it to connect an increasing number of users from various countries to create a global community ultimately. In addition to hand prostheses, the platform will also help to use and upgrade leg prostheses and exoskeletons and the products of other vendors.
As for Esper Hand, we have used the most advanced data analytics technologies to create a device that runs intuitively. While most of our competitors offer hand prostheses that get signals from two major muscle groups, we can pick up signals even from separate muscles, which drastically improves prosthesis control,” says Dima Gazda.
Another factor that makes Esper Hand stand out is machine learning algorithms. The latter allows the prosthesis to detect the most repeated behaviour patterns of the user and thus predict the user’s intentions and moves.
“Let’s say I want to pick up a cup. In this scenario, some parameters of my behaviour are the same every time I do it: position, acceleration, muscle activity, etc. Thus, by the sixth time I pick up this cup, Esper Hand will understand my intention and move accordingly without any effort on my side,” — Dima explains further.
In the future, the startup is planing to combine limb prostheses with electronics inside the body. The startup is planning to combine limb prostheses with electronics inside the body in the future. This will help users automatically measure their heart rate or blood glucose. In the meantime, prostheses are expected to be used as antennas to communicate with electronics inside the body.
Expertise is your main asset when building a global company
When you start your own business, the first thing you need to focus on is the professional level of your team. If they lack experience, the final result will be noticeably weaker.
Being an MD, an embedded engineer, and a serial entrepreneur with three successful companies under his belt, Dima teamed up with like-minded, strong professionals to create Esper Bionics in 2019 — five years after his first business was launched.
Between New York, Kyiv, and Berlin
Esper Bionics’ team consists of 21 professionals. The US team is responsible for business development, sales, and engineering tasks. The startup also has a logistics and repair service center in New York to handle quick fixes.
Customer feedback is the best way to improve your product
As Dima states, as a tech entrepreneur, you should always be in touch with your end customer and the market. At the dawn of Esper Bionics, the startup team met with dozens of amputees and prosthetists to better understand the market and the users’ needs and see what their final product should be. Thanks to the customer feedback, Esper Hand has gone through many iterations to become faster and more intuitive.
“You should market-test your product immediately even if the only things you have are your idea and a drawing or something. There will never be perfect conditions. Eventually, you will understand what to do because you will have feedback. Most people fail because they focus on the problem that others don’t need to be solved. They don’t get feedback on their idea from the market, which turns into an eventual failure and wasted time,” — says Dima.
How Esper Bionics helps Ukrainians
Esper Bionics is doing its best to ease the burden of the war on Ukrainians. First of all, all the Esper Bionics’ team members volunteer in their free time. Secondly, the startup has created a particular application form for Ukrainians who lost their limbs during the war.
The company continues to hire Ukrainian engineers and is waiting for the war to end soon to establish more facilities in Ukraine.
Tip №1 during the war: reduce costs
As for tips on staying these days afloat, the first rule is to cut costs. “We were lucky to be able to pay salaries and continue working,” Dima says.
The second tip: you need to focus on fundraising.
Today, the company has not decided whether to participate in grant programs and other projects to attract new resources. However, Esper Bionics is likely to turn to potential investors for additional investment.
A leg prosthesis within three years
The company now plans to complete the assembly of prostheses in Berlin and make them available in the US. As soon as the first batch of prostheses is installed, Esper Bionics plans to renew its fundraising activities to start massively assembling prostheses in Europe.
In addition, Esper Bionics plans to launch a leg prosthesis within three years.
It’s nice to note that Esper Bionics has chosen the path of a company that strives to go down in history by creating a product that will benefit millions of people.
After all, the development of medical technology and human engineering is one of the greatest demands of humankind today.
So, who knows, maybe climbers with prostheses by Esper Bionics will conquer Everest for the first time in the future. This will be an extraordinary event globally, marking the moment when barriers are overcome, and a new environment where everyone can do what they dream of is created.