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Just heat_it? – Quite a long way to a medical device


Old heat_it logo

 Real handwork: our first heat_it logo. Well, at least eye-catching.

Buy now! - So it says on our Website, our heat_it is now available on the market. Insane! A good time to hold on for a second and to look back. How was our hole journey so far? 

In this first blog post you will get to know:

 

  • Everything from the idea to the marketable heat_it
  • From the most important milestones on the way to a certified medical device
  • What really matters in a start-up
 Let's go! 

On a hot track…

Heat as a method of treatment has been used in medicine for decades as a treatment against itching. However, it has only been really popular for a few years. At first I was sceptical about the concept as well. Consciously exposing yourself to a heat stimulus that your body reacts to it and that is supposed to help with insect bites? That sounded strange at first. I wanted to know more and I tried available devices and and I was amazed. The working principle of heat treatment against mosquito bites is a real "miracle cure".

Like most great things there was a big BUT, as well. The conventional products are bulky and battery-powered, which made them absolutely unattractive to me. The vision: A product that is controlled and powered by the smartphone. Always with you and ready for the action, nothing would stand in the way of a relaxed summer evening. To convince my friends from my university of this vision was easy and in no time at all Christof, Stefan and Armin were on board to fight itchy insect bites.

 

Us against Insektenstiche

We are ready to fight against mosquito bites! (Bild: Cyberforum)

2017 – Recipe for success? Student Project.

A technology-oriented environment, sometimes superfluous lectures, freedom and helpful experts everywhere made our mechanical engineering studies at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology the ideal starting point for realizing the project. With the support of the Institute for Microstructure Technology, the first prototypes were created within a few months and an important step was taken: a patent application was filed.

Here, at the latest, we were moving into unknown territory. Is something like this even patentable? Can and will we afford it as students? Probably our most important decision we made so far. After all, it is difficult to set up your own start-up without a sustainable competitive advantage.
The student project was successful and initially seemed to be completed with the victory of the COSIMA competition, the Association of Electrical Engineering (VDE). But the positive feedback was overwhelming and we began to dream of a market launch.  

2018 – It's getting serious

With our victory we qualified for the iCAN-Contest in Hong Kong and had the possiblity to pitch on the international stage for the first time. Pitched, convinced, won! The fact that we were able to bring the victory from Hong Kong to Germany together gave us the necessary push to jump as a team into the unknown waters of company foundation. The EXIST start-up scholarship at KIT provided the necessary financial freedom to concentrate full-time on the start-up. The multiple workload of studies, semesters abroad, master's theses and start-up preparation came to an end - finally full focus on the market launch.

 

Team heat_it in the production

Proud of our own production rooms in Karlsruhe

Hatched in the incubator network

The inclusion in the Life-Science-Accelerator in Mannheim-Heidelberg und and the Cyberlab in Karlsruhe was invaluable. A great network, great facilities in a suitable environment and in addition financing tips, pitch training and beer. Which start-up can claim to be located at a former nuclear research centre and in a castle at the same time? We got the chance to convince many people of the heat_it on various stages. At the same time, we were able to improve our product and this has brought us a lot of attention.  

This was important, because shortly afterwards we started a crowdfunding campaign ! For a B2C product this is a very good opportunity to finance the last steps to market launch and to get an answer to the crucial question: Is anyone willing to spend money on my product? We were surprised again: With the heat_it we landed one of the most successful Startnext technology campaigns of all times.

2020 – It's getting hot

At the end of 2019 it is high time: Our team is growing, our development and production are taking up more and more space and so we move into our own facilities at the Technologiefabrik in Karlsruhe our. It is hard to imagine how much space alone the 3000 crowdfunding products, packaging and shipping materials require - we are glad that we have developed such a small product! ;) 

 

heat_it

 A timeline of prototypes of the heat_it at a glance

So only successes?

So is our start-up simply a string of many successes? Definitely not! To build a start-up is a long road with unknown challenges that are sometimes managed better and sometimes worse. We receive fantastic support from many sides and in other places we are constantly getting obstacles in our way. Perseverance is required in any case and who knows if it will be a success in the end?

I am especially grateful for our superior team that sticks together even in the darkest hours and overcomes every crisis. And one thing we can say for sure: The learning curve is definitely steep and we hope we can share more with you through this blog.  

The production in the heart of Karlsruhe is ready, the online shop is running and the warm summer evenings are secured. Be part of it, follow our story and get your heat_it in our online shop or at one of our distribution partners.

See you soon!

Yours, Lukas

PS: You have ideas, tips or feedback for us? Then please let us know.

 


     

Autor Lukas Liedtke