Ken Paulus and Gary Kabot are having a very, very good year. As of August, their company, URise Products, has raised more than $1 million for their medical walker product and were recently winners of a competition on the popular reality show “The Doctors.”
Their main product, the StandUp Walker is a mobility device that converts into a medical walker, allowing users to rise independently from a seated position. Standard walkers often require the users to find additional assistance getting themselves from a seated position to the standing walker. The device weighs only 10.5 pounds and can support up to 400 pounds.
Ken Paulus and Gary Kabot founded URise in 2015. They work out of a highly collaborate coworking-style space that includes Edison Nation, Enventys and Command Partners, among others. The space, on Elliot Street in uptown Charlotte, operates like an incubator and is a source of pride and inspiration for Paulus and the other entrepreneurs who work there.
Paulus used to work for Edison Nation, spearheading the initiative the company had with Carolinas HealthCare System. There, he represented intellectual property patents to existing companies for newly developed products or products still in the development stage in the healthcare sector. The StandUp Walker was one such product, but something about the design of this particular device sparked a deeper interest for Paulus.
While there have been some improved technologies, such as the Rollator, a seated four-wheel mobility device distributed by Drive Medical, the standard walker has remained nearly untouched since the 1960s, Paulus said.
“The StandUp Walker was something that I felt was really novel and new, and it felt like it was the kind of idea that you could build a company around,” he said.
A big boost in publicity and sales came in the second quarter of the fiscal year, when an episode of the popular reality television show “The Doctors” that the URise team was invited to compete on air. The episode was called “The Funder Games” and participants competed for crowdfunding “Shark Tank”-style. Each company invited manufactured some product related to the medical field. URise’s StandUp Walker won the competition, resulting in a boom of orders that Paulus said they were very pleased about, if slightly unprepared. StandUp Walkers were on backorder for a few months after the show aired while Paulus and the team hustled to catch up to the new demand.
Paulus and Kabot are currently in the development phase for a few new URise products, among them adaptive clothing and several home accessories to aid in automotive transfer, bathroom safety, and bariatric products, to help obese patients.
“We’re trying to create environments that adapt to people or products that are very user-centered in their design,” Paulus said. “And then we design products that are very simple to use, are well built, that give them a tool to perform the tasks they used to do everyday.”
Beyond the empathetic, this mission is also personal for both Paulus and Kabot. Kabot’s son suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, a degenerative disease that severely affects a patient’s mobility. Paulus himself remembers undergoing double-knee surgery at age 25, which left him with limited mobility for a year. Mobility is an issue that affects so many people in the world, Paulus said, and the URise mission is to help alleviate the stress and pain placed on individuals, families and caregivers.
“So many people in the world have mobility issues, and the StandUp Walker fills a niche,” Paulus said. “It doesn’t help everyone, but for millions of people it can help keep them more mobile and independent.”