Five Minutes With Calgary’s Orpyx

Startup Calgary is hosting Launch Party 2011 on December 1, 2011, giving nine Calgary companies the opportunity to showcase their products to VCs, angel investors, and A100 members. Three companies will be selected for a two-minute pitch competition on the main stage, pitching their products to 250 members of the Calgary tech community. See the full list of startups here.

The brain is remarkable, but the body can fall short. With the ability of the brain to rewire and remap itself, people with lost feeling can learn to feel again via other areas in the body. Orpyx Medical Technologies Inc is harnessing this human potential in a series of revolutionary medical / athletic devices.

The key to a successful startup is to offer a solution to a well-defined problem. What problem does Orpyx address?

The problem Orpyx is addressing is diabetic foot care complications. Approximately 50% of diabetics have peripheral neuropathy, or a loss of sensation in the feet. This inability to properly feel the feet, combined with the hardening of blood vessels, can cause damage to the tissue in the foot. This can lead to ulcers, infection, and even amputation of the foot. Using the SurroGait Insole the patient can learn to start feeling their feet again. This same technology is not limited to diabetic neuropathy and can be used by patients who suffered for example stroke, or a traumatic leg injury.

How did you conceive Orpyx?

Dr. Breanne Everett, a resident in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, sees the complications of diabetic foot disease on an ongoing basis. With her interest in sensory substitution systems, she wanted to approach the diabetic foot disease problem in a proactive manner. Through two mentors, Dr. Nickerson and Dr. Bray, Breanne came in contact with Kip Fyfe who saw huge potential in the SurroGait Insole. From this initial group, Orpyx Medical Technologies Inc. was established.

What is your biggest stumbling block as a startup? What steps have you taken to overcome this challenge?

The biggest challenge as a startup is accessing the necessary funding. We at Orpyx have made financing a priority, and are continually exploring avenues of raising capital. Thus far, we have been successful in raising the capital needed by accessing our immediate professional networks.

How has Orpyx arranged its financing? Are you actively seeking investors?

Orpyx has thus far financed its research and development through close family and friends. To date, we have raised $220K. We are actively seeking investors for an upcoming round of financing to fund the medical trial and marketing of the SurroGait Insole.

What’s the most exciting thing happening in the tech ecosystem in Calgary right now?

There is tremendous potential in Calgary’s tech ecosystem. With support groups like Startup Calgary, AcceleratorYYC, and Innovate Calgary, in combination with a large number of funding opportunities, I think we have a bright future ahead and we envision Orpyx playing a significant role in that.

Finding the right mentors is critical in a startup – how have you connected with the right people for guidance in getting your idea off the ground?