September 7, 2015

Happy Labor Day!

Written by derekherrera
I hope you all have had a great Summer and are enjoying the Labor Day weekend!!  It has been a phenomenal few months and has flown by.
Recently, I announced the launch of our company Spinal Singularity.  Spinal Singularity is a startup that designs connected medical devices to improve the quality of life for people with Spinal Cord Injury and Disease (SCI/D).  This is something I have been working on for the past year and am now pursuing this endeavor full-time!  To jumpstart our growth, we created an IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign to raise money and finalize our prototype.  All money raised will go directly to the costs of building our prototype (not for employee salaries or any other frivolous means).

The product we are building is called the Connected Catheter™.  This product will revolutionize the way millions of Americans deal with Urinary Incontinence and Neurogenic Bladder (like me).  This is the same concept that we won first place in the UCLA Business Plan Competition with and the UCLA Engineering Venture Competition with.  To learn more please check out our IndieGoGo campaign and help us spread the word.
Derek Herrera WSGR Medical Device Conference Presentation @2x
June and July were busy.  I had the opportunity to present Spinal Singularity on stage at the WSGR Medical Device Conference in San Francisco as a part of the MedTech Innovator accelerator program.  We had a great experience there and learned a lot from some highly experienced industry professionals.
I also had the opportunity to travel to China and complete our final course for the UCLA Executive MBA program.  I had virtually no knowledge of the intricate and complex political/economic landscape there before this course but walked away with a totally renewed sense of appreciation for the reality of what is happening there.  I have way too many questions to answer to post any information in this forum, but suffice it to say that China will continue to play a very important role in America’s future for a long time.
Derek Herrera Wheelchair Mutianyu Great Wall of China @2x
When our class went to visit the Great Wall of China I knew that there would be very little accommodations for wheelchair accessibility.  I had planned to visit the base of the wall and spend some time hanging out with my friends even though I wouldn’t be able to ascend the wall.  Upon arrival to the wall we were quickly greeted by four men who offered to push/carry me up the wall for a reasonably small fare.  After negotiating this price, the men pushed and carried me up the wall.  This was truly a once in a lifetime experience.
Derek Herrera Wheelchair Mutianyu Great Wall China @2x
In the last week of July we completed our graduation ceremony at UCLA.  It was a lot of fun and Maura and I had a great time celebrating with family.  I’ve found that I often get pre-occupied on what is happening in the future and have difficulty enjoying the present.  When I graduated from the Naval Academy I was intently focused on the next steps I had to take to become a good Marine Officer, and although I tried hard to relax and enjoy this event I kept finding my thoughts returning the the next steps I had to accomplish to become a successful entrepreneur.  I think I realize the negative side to this and my ability to tune out future concerns while focusing on the present is something I continue to work on.
Derek Herrera Graduation UCLA EMBA 2015 @2x
In the past month I was able to travel a bit more to spread the word about what we are doing at Spinal Singularity and went to Silicon Valley, Boston, Maine, and Florida for meetings and presentations.  One of the most effective trips I made was to the Military Health Science Research Symposium in Florida.  There we presented some of our work during the poster session and were able to meet with many of the leading researchers supporting the US Military Health system.  It was great to see the machine mobilized to try and provide the best quality care to any injured service-members.  As someone relatively new to this arena, I only found one critical deficit that I wished would have been addressed.  This deficit was the coordination of DOD efforts with the VA.  I met very few (if any) VA employees at this session and although I am not an expert in any regards, as a user of the system, I would have preferred to see some level of coordination or support from the VA.  Regardless, the machine continues to march along and I continue to try to influence it for the better in any way possible.