Ramp Due Diligence

Part
01
of six
Part
01

Ramp - Current Market Size

Currently, there are 128,040 people affected by paraplegia in the United States.

Paraplegia in the United States

  • Paraplegia is caused by spinal cord injury and can be broken down into two distinct categories: complete paraplegia and incomplete paraplegia.
  • There are 128,040 people currently affected by paraplegia in the United States.
  • 78% of those affected by paraplegia are males.
  • The number of people who have a spinal cord injury in the United States is approximately 291,000.
  • The average age of a person affected by paraplegia in the United States is 27 years.
  • Paraplegics in the United States are generally independent and participate in society, normally.

Complete Paraplegia

  • When a person's spinal cord injury leads to complete loss of function below the waist, it can be classified as complete paraplegia.
  • Complete paraplegia accounts for 22.9% of spinal cord injuries.

Incomplete Paraplegia

  • When a person's spinal cord injury leads to a partial loss of function below the waist, it can be classified as incomplete paraplegia.
  • Incomplete paraplegia accounts for 21.5% of spinal cord injuries.

Your Research team applied the following Strategy:

  • A report by the National SCI Statistical Center reveals that there are 291,000 people in the United States currently affected by a spinal cord injury.
  • Another report from Traumatic Brain Injury states that 21.5% of spinal cord injuries are reported to be incomplete paraplegia and 22.9% as complete paraplegia.

Triangulation

  • 22.9% + 21.5% = 44%
Therefore, 44% of spinal cord injury cases reported in the United States result in the diagnosis of either complete or incomplete paraplegia.
  • 44% of 291,000 = 128,040
Therefore, there are 128,040 people with spinal cord injuries affected by either complete or incomplete paraplegia.
Part
02
of six
Part
02

Ramp - Projected Market Size

By 2030 there will be an estimated 27.36 million Americans over the age of 65 with a mobility-related disability. That number is expected to reach 32.98 million by 2040.

Ramp — Projected Market Size


2030

  • According to a report from Euromonitor International, the population of the United States will reach 360 million by 2030.
  • The US Census reports that 19% (68.4 million) of the US populace will be aged 65 years or older by 2030.
  • A press release from the CDC indicates that two-fifths of those aged 65 years or older experience a mobility-related disability.
  • The estimated number of people aged 65 or older that will face mobility issues by 2030 is 27.36 million.


2040

  • According to the US Census (via Statista), the population of the US will be 380 million by 2040.
  • A report from the Administration for Community Living (an operating division of the US Department of Health and Human Services) states that 21.7% (82.46 million) of the US populace will be aged 65 years or older.
  • Assuming that the CDC percentage of persons aged 65 years or older experiencing a mobility-related disability remains constant, the estimated proportion of people facing mobility issues by 2040 will be 32.98 million.

Research Strategy:

We began our investigation by collecting data from public and private statistical databases (e.g., the Center for Disease Control, the US Census, and Euromonitor International).

To calculate the percentage of the population that would be 65 years or older in 2030, we multiplied the projected population of 360 million by 19%: 360 x 0.19 = 68.4 million.

Next, we estimated the percentage of the population aged 65 years or older in 2030 that will face a mobility-related disability using the CDC value of 40%: 68.4 x 0.4 = 27.36 million.

We repeated the procedure to calculate the population segment aged 65 years or older in 2040, using the values of 380 million and 21.7%: 380 x 0.217 = 82.46 million.

Assuming the percentage provided by the CDC remains constant, we calculate the proportion of the 2040 population aged 65 years or older that will face a mobility-related disability: 82.46 x 0.4 = 32.984 = 32.98 million.
Part
03
of six
Part
03

Ramp Founders - Mel Du

Mel (Jack) Du is the CEO and co-founder of Ramp USA. Du developed a passion for medical robotics after suffering a motorcycle accident and injuring his back. His favorite sports are shooting and lacrosse.

CURRENT AND PAST WORK EXPERIENCE

  • Mel Du co-founded Ramp USA in May 2018 and currently serves as the CEO. Ramp, formerly known as Trinicorp, focuses on manufacturing “off-road electric wheelchair that self-balances over rough terrain.”
  • Du was a Mechanical Engineering Intern at FlashScan3D from May to September 2017. During his internship at the company, he helped to design “3D fingerprint and Iris scanners which are resistant to false biometric hacking.”
  • From January to August 2015, Du served as a Team Leader, Micro-G NExT Initiative at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). His team built a device for collecting and containing asteroid samples called Sampling Hardware for Asteroid Retrieval and Containment (SHARC) with “machined aluminum parts” and other materials provided by Proto Labs.
  • Du was a Graduate Research Intern at Rice University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering (ME) from June to July 2015 and Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE) from June to August 2013. He worked on projects such as submersible Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), 2D nanomaterials, and others during his internship programs at Rice University.
  • Du’s first publicly-known work experience was at Switch It, where he served as a Technical Intern from June to August 2013. He initially worked in the micro-electronics fabrication and computer-aided design (CAD) departments, and later participated in engineering meetings due to his experience as a wheelchair user.

PROFESSIONAL INTERESTS

  • Ramp is Du’s current and only business that he operates. Therefore, information on his professional interests focus on major projects and initiatives related to Ramp.
  • His passion for medical robotics started around 2010/2011 after breaking his back due to a motorcycle accident.
  • During an interview with a Geekdom host, Du stated that the goal of starting Ramp is to “erase disability with the world's fastest on and off-road wheelchair.”
  • In July 2018, Ramp received $10,000 in funding from the Geekdom Community Fund.
  • As of September 2018, Ramp’s team included six full-time engineers, two doctors, and 12 engineering design students from Trinity University and the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA).
  • The prototype was built at Geekdom Labs.
  • In January 2019, Ramp was announced as one of the ten companies that will be participating in Techstars Boulder 2019 accelerator program.

PERSONAL INTERESTS, EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND, AND FAMILY

  • Du’s personal interests include shooting and lacrosse.
  • In 2017, Du was part of Trinity University’s Trap and Skeet team that participated in the Association of College Unions International’s Annual Clay Targets Tournament.
  • In May 2019, USA Shooting posted a picture on its Facebook account that featured Mel Du with members of the national team at the International Shooting Park.
  • Du has been serving as an assistant coach of Trinity University’s lacrosse team since 2018.
  • Trinitonian, the official newspaper of Trinity University, has published a 2018 article that featured Du practicing lacrosse.
  • Du graduated from Trinity University in 2017 with a degree in Engineering Science, an “ABET-accredited degree program that combines the disciplines of Mechanical, Electrical, and Chemical Engineering.”
  • He graduated from Bellaire High School in 2014.
  • Du’s only publicly-known family member is his sister, Alice Du.
  • He has listed his relationship status on Facebook as “single.”

LITTLE KNOWN FACTS

  • Du may be an avid traveler as he has visited countries such as Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Japan, China, Brazil, Canada, and Mexico between 2003 and 2010.
  • The accident that Du suffered resulted in three fractured vertebrae and left him paralyzed from the chest down.
  • Based the hashtags that Du used for one of his Facebook posts, Shia Lebeouf may be his favorite actor.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

We have defined “little known facts” as information that have not been mentioned repeatedly across different articles. Therefore, Du’s interests in shooting and lacrosse are listed as “personal interests” but his interest in traveling, which was identified only after scouring through his Facebook posts, has been classified as a “little known fact.” Additionally, specific details of his injury have also been provided as “little known facts” because most articles that featured Du usually only mentioned that he injured his back due to a motorcycle accident. Please note that Ramp was previously known as “Trinicorp.”

Part
04
of six
Part
04

Ramp Founders - Amro Eltayeb

FINDINGS

Amro Eltayeb is one of Ramp Inc co-founders and also the Vice President of TriniCorp Robotics Inc. He has coordinated some projects in part or as a whole and these include the Ramp and the NAS Mars Ice Challenge projects. He became an alumnus of Techstars Boulder in 2019.

CURRENT AND PAST WORK EXPERIENCE

Professional interests

  • He is presently involved in a project called Ramp, which is aimed at building the fastest wheelchair in the world.
  • He coordinated the engineering aspect of the project and the target is to develop a lightweight offroad electric wheelchair.
  • This type of wheelchair is intended to be built in such a way that it would enhance speedy movement for disabled persons over rough surfaces.
  • He is a 2019 alumnus of Techstars Boulder.
  • He once led a team on a project presented at the NASA Mars Ice Challenge and was involved in the writing of a part of the project proposal.
  • He designed an induction heater, which melted prototype ice cores during the NASA Mars Ice Challenge.

personal interests, EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND AND FAMILY

Little known facts about him

Research strategy

We started this research by looking at Ramp's website and discovered that the website was dedicated to the Ramp Project and its development. After this, LinkedIn and the social media accounts of Amro Eltayeb were researched. Only his Facebook account has recent postings on it. On his LinkedIn page, however, we noted that the formal or official name of the company founded by the trio is TriniCorp Robotics Inc. We then checked TriniCorp's website to get other pieces of information related to the research. Information related to him are generally scant and this could be because he recently graduated in 2017, as this is the early phase of his career. As such, many accomplishments would not have been available.

We did not get any information related to Amro's family. Our first strategy was to check his profile page and we discovered that information related to family and his relationship status were not publicly available. We then proceeded to check his Facebook posts and tags till the time the account was opened (which was around the time he gained admission to study mechanical engineering). We further searched the engineering students website of the University of Texas to see there was any shout out where he tagged any of his family but this did not yield any result. Our third strategy was to check news and technology information websites since there is a probability that he might have had an interview with some journalists because he is part of a team working on the Ramp project. The news and technology information websites include CNN, Forbes and TechCrunch but we could not get any information about this still. The unavailability of this information could be due to his personal reasons.


Part
05
of six
Part
05

Ramp - Innovation in the Wheelchair Market

There is no incentive for wheelchair manufacturers in the U.S. to innovate, due to the inconsistencies with insurance companies as it relates to their reimbursement methods/levels and documentation requirements.


POSSIBLY USEFUL INFORMATION

LACK OF WILL TO INNOVATE


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

U.S. WHEELCHAIR MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY


INSURANCE BENEFITS


INSURANCE COMPANIES' REGULATIONS AND REIMBURSEMENT TO WHEELCHAIR MANUFACTURERS


Research Strategy:

In our research, we realized that specific details about insurance companies and market shares are locked behind paywalls in very few sources, and not reported in others. However, although limited, we were able to find information to complete this research.
We started our search by using Ramp's top competitors from a previous aspect of the larger project as a guide to find information because from our pre-research we realized that this information would be a challenge to find. However, the annual reports for companies (Freedom Trax, Rio Mobility, NuMotion, Alber and Spinergy) were not publicly available because they are private companies that may want to maintain a competitive edge by not sharing certain details.
We then decided to look for information about the wheelchair manufacturing industry in the U.S. industry reports and we found that Pride Mobility Product Corporation, Invacare Corporation and Sunrise Medical Inc. owned the majority of the market. Of the three companies, only Invacare had an annual report publicly available; the others were also private companies that may want to maintain a competitive edge by not sharing certain details. We were able to gather possibly useful information about the lack of will to innovate due to reimbursement amounts. However, we quickly realized that it wasn't that the insurance reimbursement was the same amount with innovation or not for wheelchair manufacturers, but that the amount that was reimbursed to manufacturers was very inconsistent and changed with government regulations as well, even if the insurance companies were private ones.
In our third step, information relating to how inconsistent insurance reimbursements are was obtained from research publications, and we were able to provide useful hard data here.
Our fourth step was to use the news reports of assistive technology experts to provide additional information. We also expanded the scope to include information from 2016, which also provided some relevant information about the process that manufacturers/dealers have to go through in order to be reimbursed by insurance companies and the repercussions if errors are made in the documentation process.
The sources used include IBIS World, NAP, Disabled World, New Mobility, and Closing the Gap. Since most of the in-depth information of direct impact from insurance reimbursement was in Invacare's Annual Report and the research publication, and Invacare is an owner of one of the largest market shares, we assumed that the issues experienced with insurance companies may be representative of what other companies in the same wheelchair market are also facing (including smaller companies). All the information gathered was provided.

Part
06
of six
Part
06

Ramp - Top Competitors

Some examples of wheelchair manufacturers in the United States offering solutions close or similar to Ramp are Freedom Trax, Rio Mobiliy, NuMotion, Alber, and Spinergy.

Wheelchair manufacturers in the US offering solutions close or similar to Ramp

1. Freedom Trax

Product Characteristics:

2. Rio Mobiliy

Product Characteristics:

3. NuMotion

Product Characteristics:

4. Alber

Product Characteristics:

5. Spinergy

  • Headquarters: Carlsbad, CA, USA.

  • Product Characteristics:
    • This company's product is called "ZX-1".
    • It provides power to help active users of wheelchairs.
    • It reduces the effects of prolonged use of a manual wheelchair in difficult terrains such as carpet, gravel, hard pack, rocky terrain, grass, and hills.
    • It transforms any manual wheelchair into a powered chair.
    Sources
    Sources

    From Part 05
    Quotes
    • "Changes in government and other third-party payor reimbursement levels and practices have negatively impacted and could continue to negatively impact the company’s revenues and profitability."
    • ". Most of these programs set maximum reimbursement levels for some of the products sold by the company in the United States and abroad. "
    • "If third-party payors deny coverage, make the reimbursement process or documentation requirements more uncertain or further reduce their current levels of reimbursement (i.e., beyond the reductions described below), or if the company’s costs of production do not decrease to keep pace with decreases in reimbursement levels, the company may be unable to sell the affected product(s) through its distribution channels on a profitable basis. "