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Life on the Mesa: There’s a New Headquarters in Town

ProtoStarInc. is ready to save some lives with its new upright walker
Croce's is closed, but there's still live jazz on the Mesa | Photo by Luis Garcia

By Amanda Caniglia

Come sit by me…

Word is out. There’s a new headquarters in town—ProtoStarInc. Insider Scott Rieger popped by the BellaV to give me the latest. The new San Diego based company’s mission to improve the lives of people who need assistance with walking will address the rapidly growing $4 billion global market for medical mobility devices. Their first product coming to market this month? Introducing the LifeWalker Upright.

Life on the Mesa: There’s a New Headquarters in Town

Life on the Mesa: There’s a New Headquarters in Town

Introducing the LifeWalker Upright, the first medical mobility device launched by ProtoStar Inc., our newest headquarters in town

The LifeWalker Upright is pure genius. The outdated walker we are familiar with has not been redesigned for over forty years! This new technology helps combat the inefficiencies of the current walker—fall risk, slouching, and lack of user confidence and comfort. The LifeWalker Upright’s new high-tech metal frame is built for strength and stability, enabling users to “stand tall and look ahead.” Transforming, really, if you think about it. No longer crouched over following their walker, users stand upright and erect, eyes on the prize, confident, within their own footprint, creating a contained, safer environment. ProtoStar Inc. founder suggests the LifeWalker Upright is a “major advancement in assistive mobility” with the potential to restore not only confidence, but also “dignity.”

What is driving this growing market demand for medical mobility devices? ProtoStar Inc. cites our aging population and the falls connected to walkers and canes as one source. The costs associated with fall injuries is mind boggling. In 2013, the total cost was $34 billion and is expected to shoot up to $67.7 billion by the year 2020. More importantly, the LifeWalker Upright will help save lives. Globally, falls account for approximately 424,000 deaths a year.

ProtoStar Inc. also pin point rehab for joint replacement, spinal cord injuries, neurological, gait and orthopedic disorders, as well as obesity as reasons for the high demand for innovation within the medical mobility device market. Check out their website and see how inspiring the research around this new device is. Videos of individuals wheel chair bound since birth now able to stand and walk using this new San Diego based technology will make you tear up.

Have I mentioned who started the company? Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dave Purcell, came out of retirement when he saw his wife struggling with her outdated walker. It’s a love story really. Purcell is best known for the San Diego-based Encad, which was later acquired by Kodak.

This Board of Directors ain’t too shabby either. Seriously though, my jaw dropped when I read the list. Corporate attorney, VC and entrepreneur Craig S. Andrews, one of my favorite mavericks; the witty Founder and Chairman of the Board for ResMed, Peter C. Ferrell; Steven Garfin, distinguished Professor and chair of UC San Diego’s Department of Orthopedic Surgery; and managing Director of Enterprise Partners Venture Capital, Andrew Senyei.

It is so exciting to see the birth of this company happen right here and we are equally thrilled that they have decided to plant roots and make San Diego their home. This company and their new innovation will make such an immediate impact on the lives of so many. I am sure every one of us can think of someone we love that would benefit from the LifeWalker Upright. Just another example of success on the Miracle Coast No Boundaries. The LifeWalker Upright makes its debut at the Combined Sections Meeting of the American Physical Therapy Association, February 18-20, in Anaheim and then at MedTrade Spring, March 1-2, in Las Vegas. On a side note, I must confess, I’ve had the jingle and infomercial all worked out in my noggin’. It’s been stuck on repeat since this morning’s shower. Throw back, 80s style, Afrika Bambaataa. “Walk it, don’t stop it! Said walk it… don’t stop!” Inspiring and fun, no? It could happen.

Upcoming events on the Mesa (I’ll be at the fun table…)

  • StartupSD Convergence 2016
    Happy birthday to the Basement, UC San Diego’s newest hub for innovation and entrepreneurism within the Triton ecosystem. They’ll be celebrating this Saturday with spiked punch and Vegas showgirls (just checking if anyone’s reading!). Leading up to the big birthday bash, we’ve got three days of fantastic events to help celebrate San Diego’s thriving entrepreneurial community. A local, grassroots, volunteer based group of entrepreneurs, mentors and investors, StartupSD is leading the way with their new platform to grow the greater San Diego startup community. In 2015 they brought us Startup Week. This year their StartupSD Convergence highlights two innovation nodes in our city—downtown and the Mesa. This three-day series kicks off Thursday evening at 101 W Broadway with an Ecosystem Orientation followed by Poker & Game night. Friday EvoNexus hosts Domain Expert hours from 5-6 p.m. and then there’s a “Downtown Startup Crawl.” Ooooh, now I’m game. Saturday the 6th, StartupSD Convergence shimmies up the coast to the Mesa. They’ve got a Startup panel, Intern Fair, Mentor Hours and the big finale, Demo Night. There’s a one-day or 3-day pass with student pricing as well. Love seeing groups like StartupSD connecting the dots and pulling our city together as one force to be reckoned with.
    February 4-6, Downtown San Diego and UCSD

  • Lessons in Herding Cats – Business Development Basics for Life Science Companies
    Do we have any business development professionals out there? How about some management teams of life science startups? Sweet. JLabs brings their very own Senior Director of Transactions, Parth Chakrabarti, and Senior Counsel Scott Orchard to help us navigate through those oh-so-tempting strategic partnerships and other potential growth opportunities. Come listen and learn how to decide what will add true value to your company.
    February 9, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., JLABS @ Lab Central

  • Mark Bowles and Eric Otterson: How to leverage San Diego resources to launch successful companies
    Anyone else see a pic of this stud muffin on the front page of the business section in last October’s Union Tribune? Bowles, founder of ecoATM, has raised around $250 million for six different companies he’s built, and has sunk almost a million in his own personal finances into SD companies. When I read about Mark’s strict “San Diego philosophy,” I knew I had to meet him. He’s the poster boy for our Mesa Project. Quick call to my homeboy, and boom, money. Meeting set to talk entrepreneurship and plan world domination. Throw in the charming Eric Otterson, Managing Director at Silicon Valley Bank, and I am sold on this event. Otterson, when not leading his San Diego based banking team, moonlights as Board Member of EvoNexus and the San Diego Venture Group. If that’s not enough, he is also co-founder of Startup San Diego. Small world! First Cooley and now Silicon Valley, he continues the Otterson family legacy of building our San Diego startup ecosystem. MIT brings us another spectacular line up ladies and gents. Do come.
    February 10, 5 p.m.-8:30 p.m., Sanford Consortium

Food for thought…

When one door closes a window always opens. We are all bummed about Croce’s closing its doors. That downtown joint was an institution among the jazz scene. But if you count up all the music concerts I’ve hit up in the past several months here on the Mesa, I say Carpe Diem! Sure there are talks of making a theater district in downtown, but hey, we’ve got it going on up here too. Between Birch Aquarium’s Green Flash Concert Series, the Salk Music & Science Series and the Symphony at Salk, Mainly Mozart, Athenaeum’s Jazz Series at TSRI, UC San Diego music concerts, the Loft, RIMAC arena, Jame’s Place, my joint the Bella Vista Social Club & Caffé and our powerhouse theater, the La Jolla Playhouse, why can’t we claim the Mesa as the Mecca of San Diego music culture?

Life on the Mesa: There’s a New Headquarters in Town

Croce’s is closed, but there’s still live jazz on the Mesa | Photo by Luis Garcia

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