I recently had the pleasure of connecting with Dr. Justin Mandel, DOM AP LAC, COO at Global Medical Innovations, LLC. Learning about Freedom Belt™ was a real eye-opener for someone like me who thankfully has never been in the position of being in need of one or knows of someone suffering with the discomfort and limitations of wearing a drainage bag.
Dr. Mandel's entrepreneurial spirit, medical expertise, and true concern for others is the formula for success. Thanks to people like him and his partner, a life-changing product was created that will surely help millions of people who could have only dreamed such an invention would one day be available.
This Q & A with Dr. Mandel was inspiring, educational, and motivating. Learn more about his endeavors and Freedom Belt™ and see for yourself why he's a PayPath pick to watch.
Q: When did you realize you wanted to start your own business?
A: My involvement with working on this life changing medical product called Freedom Belt™, was the culmination of years of experience with sales, online marketing, medical product development, and experience with inventing and patenting my own proprietary Overactive Bladder treatment. I realized a pretty long time ago that I wanted to create a hybrid online business model where throngs of patients who really needed help were served, instead of just treating one patient at a time like in a practice. This way I could leverage more of my talents to serve volumes of people in a completely different and unique way.
Q: How did the idea for Freedom Belt come about?
A: The time for Freedom Belt™ has finally arrived because my partner, and I were the only two people who were willing to invest massive amounts of time, energy, and capital in this particular way to make a difference in what will be the lives of millions. As practitioners, we have a unique advantage in that we work with patients who need specific help and we can see the areas where innovation is desperately needed.
The idea for Freedom Belt™ came about when Dr. Mario Torres-Leon was making his rounds at Massachusetts General Hospital and a female cancer patient under his care asked him whether he knew what the worst part of her cancer was. He thought to himself, "What can be worse than cancer?" In return she responded, "It's my drainage bag!"
When she said that his mind spun off into a totally different direction because he realized the critical need for patients to be able to properly strap drainage bags to their bodies. So Freedom Belt™ was born out of this shocking experience with his patient who desperately needed a brand new solution for her problem because up until that moment the current standard of care was abysmal.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge with the product/company thus far?
A: The biggest challenge to bringing Freedom Belt™ to market has been a race against the clock. An enormous amount of time was invested into bootstrapping Freedom Belt™ so it's at the point where it is right now. An intensive amount of non-stop sweat equity has been poured into it, and the overwhelmingly positive feedback we've been getting from patients, medical professionals, and medical device manufacturers has been completely reflective of that.
The entire year of 2016 was spent building the foundation for the Freedom Belt™ manufacturing process and putting in place some of the crucial marketing assets to move it forward. We knew that in order for future customers to make the best use of Freedom Belt™, it had to be outrageously comfortable so it could be worn all day and night. So we spent months testing over 30 different types of materials until we were finally able to bring it to the point where it can be worn all day and all night long without people ever knowing it's really there. I can testify to that because I've personally tested it myself so I'm able to stand behind it 100%.
Q: What has been the most rewarding experience throughout the process?
A: The most rewarding experience by far has been hearing from Freedom Belt™ users about how they've been able to get their freedom back following their surgical procedures! Our very first customer had 2 prior surgical procedures and for the third one, he knew what he was in for so he wanted to be prepared for it. What he didn't want was to be stuck at home for weeks on end and be massively inconvenienced with needing to drain his drainage bag as soon as it filled up a little because the weight from it would pull the rubber bands down.
So he searched for a solution for this problem and found Freedom Belt™ online through doing a Google search. Two weeks after he received his Freedom Belt™ he explained to us how it gave him his life back so he could take his wife out to eat and go about his normal business without any concern for what otherwise would've been a nightmare.
The Freedom Belt™ difference can be summed up best by Carl B. from The Villages in Florida. "I want to share a better way to live with a catheter. When my doctor told me of a 4-week recovery with a catheter after surgery, I knew I had to find a better way to deal with the thin elastic straps that come with a standard leg bag. I've used a Freedom Belt for 2 weeks. Zero fear of the leg bag sliding down my leg, pulling on the catheter. No worries about readjusting before sitting because the bag rotated to either side of my leg. The bag stays put. No matter what I do or where I go. Standing, bending, sitting, walking, driving, worn under my pants or long shorts. Very discrete and secure. Highly recommended."
Q: What is different about Freedom Belt compared to other products in its category (if there are any)?
A: Freedom Belt™ is the very first patented suspension based strapping system that's ever been devised for managing drainage bags that hold urine or other bodily fluids. Until now, the decades-old standard of care has forced patients to hold up their drainage bags using cheap rubber or Velcro that might cost as little as a penny each. These archaic straps do not do a sufficient job holding the drainage bags in place because they fall down as soon as they fill up with fluid. As you could easily imagine this highly limits people from going about their lives like they did before their surgery.
To help make a little more sense of it, think of it this way: You just woke up from surgery and you now all of a sudden have a rubber tube sticking out from inside your body with a big plastic "bladder" attached to it at its end. Now you are forced to keep everything on you so not only it stays in place, but you also need to make sure that the rubber tube never comes out because if it does it'll be incredibly painful plus beyond that, you'll need to go back to the hospital to get it surgically reinserted.
So now with Freedom Belt™ you can go about doing pretty much everything you did before your surgery like food shopping, getting lunch from a local deli, attending concerts, exercising at the gym, etc., which makes it a very welcomed relief for probably nearly all patients who need a drainage bag.
Q: Who is Freedom Belt aimed towards?
A: This product is for ANY patient that has the need to manage drainage bags following surgery. It could be for anyone from as young as a pediatric patient on up to senior citizens.
Q: Where can people purchase Freedom Belt™?
A: Patients or family members can visit www.FreedomBelt.com to purchase their Freedom Belt. Alternatively it can be ordered by calling our toll free phone number at 844-FREE-NOW.
Q: Where do you see the company going in the future?
A: Freedom Belt™ is the first product that our company, Global Medical Innovations LLC is bringing to market. Additionally, there are 9 other additional related product lines that will be able to help patients' lives be more pleasant during or after they've had minimally invasive surgeries.
Because Freedom Belt™ is a major game-changer that offers the next evolutionary leap in medical devices for patients who have drainage bags, it will be just a matter of time before it is adopted as the gold standard for all patients who need a surgically implanted catheter. This will be like the modern day digital calculator replacing the Stone Age abacus, where hardly anyone who needs to would always prefer a calculator, which can perform computations more easily faster.
Q: What advice would you give a budding entrepreneur or business-minded individual seeking to launch a new product or service?
A: Working on a medical start-up that can profoundly affect the lives of millions of people with a product like Freedom Belt™ involves a tremendous sense of responsibility involved with it. There's a moral sense of responsibility to create the very best product possible because of how many people's lives that will be able to be touched with it without ever meeting over 99% of them.
If you know in your heart of hearts that you have a winning product or service that will dramatically improve lives, then do everything it takes to make your vision happen. People who know nothing about entrepreneurship will tell you that you'll fail. Your family might not fully support you. Your friends will talk behind your back. People who think they have your best interests at heart will try to crush your dreams because they don't want you to succeed and don't want you to get ahead so you can stay way behind like them.
Ignore everyone. Grow some thick skin, put your blinders on and dig in deep. Then do everything you can without reservation to see your vision manifest itself.
Q: How many people work for Freedom Belt at this time?
A: We have 5 people that work for the company as of now. Both Dr. Mario and I have been spearheading its efforts to get it to where it's currently at. We recently brought on board an experienced investor relations executive to help us acquire investment capital, and we also have two really wonderful sales people working with us in the Caribbean.
Additionally, we have well over two dozen people that we've hired through outsourcing who help with everything from website development to marketing.
Q: Sum up your company philosophy (or your own mantra) in 3 words:
A: Patient-centered products.
It doesn't sound logical when I say "patient-centered products", so I will explain. Until now, medical devices have been exclusively designed to typically only benefit the medical device companies. Now, with Freedom Belt™ and the other 9 D'Ultima product lines that will set the gold standard in the minimally invasive surgical niche, it's the patients that will finally come first. That's because Dr. Mario has the insight into the needs of the patients themselves, given that he's worked with thousands of them.
Q: What about your personality makes you a successful business owner?
A: I'm relentless. I don't give up. With millions of people worldwide who will benefit from Freedom Belt™ I don't have the luxury of being able to be idle and let things happen on their own.
With a brand new start-up, there's a crazy amount of things that need to get done so it's critical to realize the pieces that need to be in place as well as the order that those pieces need to be assembled in, etc. I'm pretty good at prioritizing what needs to get immediately done and what can be saved for later.
Q: Anything else you'd like to share?
A: Freedom is something that all of us hold near and dear to our hearts. When we lose our freedom it can profoundly affect us on many levels. We're very glad because Freedom Belt™ is there to successfully serve those patients that up until now, the medical community did not have an adequate solution for.
If you're an entrepreneur and you can provide humanity with something so fundamental that people have a critical need for, then do everything that you can to make it happen!Entrepreneurship isn't straight forward. Every day brings different challenges. If you're going to work on a medical start-up or another type of start-up, the workload is non-stop. There's always, always, always work to be done. So make sure that you're really passionate about what you're doing because when the times get tough, that will help to float you through.
What you really need to do is to speak deeply to yourself at your core and not chase opportunities simply because there's a high dollar figure that could be associated with it. If you're not highly passionate about what you're doing then when the going gets tough it'll be too easy to just give up.
Airbnb offers an affordable option for people looking to be more comfortable as they travel.
However, there are downsides to staying in a host's home rather than a hotel. Whereas hotels are designed for constant streams of visitors and often have furniture built to last, at an Airbnb, you may be staying on old or cheap furniture that a host is using in order to maximize their profits.
And while most reputable hotels will have regular room inspections from staff to check for any wear and tear, Airbnb damage disputes are oftentimes he said, she said situations. If you are in an Airbnb and something breaks, there are a few steps you should take in order to ensure that you are not on the hook for damages out of your control.
I have used Airbnb for years and have had a grand total of one dispute over damages with a host. But by following these steps, I was able to effectively work with Airbnb to come to a fair resolution.
Step 1: Assess if you are actually at fault. If you are, pay for it.
We have all heard the stories of fat cat Airbnb management companies pulling in millions of dollars from hundreds of apartments, but the reality is that the average Airbnb host makes less than $1,000 a month. These are likely people just like you who are trying to supplement their incomes and stay in their home sasn rents in many major cities climb faster than wages.
If the damage is normal wear and tear, then the guest won't need to pay. But if you broke something through actions outside of regular wear and tear, even if it was unintentional, it is the right thing to do to pay for the damages you didino this person's home. The host will likely take the money out of your security deposit, but you may need to arrange for additional payments for larger damages to their property.
Step 2: Take pictures of the damage right away.
Pull out your phone and take pictures of the damage. Some people take pictures before they enter an Airbnb in case of any damages, but after a long day of travelling I rarely want to peek in every nook and cranny of an apartment. Still, it's always a good idea to take photos the moment damage occurs. You will want to have these photos in case of a dispute with the host.
Step 3: Contact the host through Airbnb immediately.
You should never communicate with a host through a medium other than Airbnb. Remember that communicating through the app is meant to ensure the safety of all parties. Airbnb will put less weight towards screenshots of text messages or your description of a phone call than communication within their app, which they know cannot be fabricated.
I always recommend communicating through written message rather than trying to call as that way there is a clear record of who said what and when. If there are damages to thAirbnb, you should want to contact the host immediately, first to show that you are not trying to hide the damages and second because you are entitled to accommodations that comply with the specifications listed in the ad. If the fridge in your Airbnb is not working, then the host has a responsibility to fix it to provide you with the amenities you paid for.
Keep your communication through Airbnb so there is a record in case of a dispute.
Step 4: If the host does not respond, contact Airbnb
In my own case, I had arrived at my Airbnb in a small beach town for a holiday weekend. When the wooden bed frame came apart as soon as we sat on it, we could not get a response from the host, who was likely enjoying their own festivities.
A host is supposed to be ready to respond to any issues during check-in and when they were not available, I decided to contact Airbnb. The Airbnb bot is available through the app (always go through the app whenever possible!) and I was advised to call Airbnb Community Support. I explained to the representative that the bed had come apart when we had sat on it (certainly normal usage) and was unusable. They advised us to wait while they tried to get ahold of the host, so we sat on the floor and put on a movie while we waited.
After about an hour, they reached out to us through the app and neither one of us had been able to reach the host. If you are still able to use the Airbnb, they will likely have you continue to stay in the accommodation if it is useable. In our case, because it was the only bed in the apartment and there was no room to put the mattress on the floor, they put us in a hotel and paid for half of the difference in price from needing to book a last-minute room.
Step 5: Wait for the host's claim in the Resolution Center
Hosts have up to 60 days to make a claim on a deposit, and you must respond within 72 hours. If you don't respond, then Airbnb will go ahead and process the claim.
Read through the host's claim several times before crafting your response. You will want to respond to any points they make in their claim that you disagree with. The host has to prove that you caused the damage in order to be awarded the money, so you will want to respond to any claims they are making. It doesn't feel good to be accused of doing something you did not do, but do not let emotion come into it. It is best to be professional and matter-of-fact as you go through this contentious situation.
Never pay a host directly. All damage disputes should be handled through Airbnb's Resolution Center.
Step 6: If you hear from the mediator, prepare your response.
If you decide to dispute the claim, then the host can elect to involve a mediator through Airbnb. They will gather information from both sides of the dispute and make a decision. The mediator's judgement is final, and you cannot escalate the situation any further. You must respond to the mediator within 72 hours or they will automatically rule in favor of the host.
A good response will have the following elements:
- Highlights from your positive reviews. If you have dozens of positive reviews all saying you are very respectful of the property, it would certainly be wise to point out your positive prior experiences with Airbnb hosts as a testament to your character.
- A complete and truthful description of how the damage came about. You may be tired of explaining what happened at this point, but this will likely be the last time. Thoroughly explain what happened so that a mediator just coming into the case can be armed with the facts. If the host is making up damages completely, point that out and explain how the items in question worked while you were in the apartment. This is your chance to tell your side of the story.
- Pictures of the damage. This is important for establishing whether the damage could have been accidental and if anyone in the dispute is being less than truthful. In my own case, the host argued that the bed that had broken was brand new and was solid wood, but the pictures I had taken showed that it was made from particle board. I think that was a big part of why I won the dispute, as the host was clearly not telling the whole story.
- All of your communication with the host. This is why you want to only communicate through the Airbnb app. The Airbnb mediator can see that your communications are undoctored, and the host cannot make any claims that you admitted to causing the damage when you did not. Showing that you immediately contacted the host and did not try to cover up the damage at all goes a long way in these disputes.
- A response to any unreasonable charges or claims. If you broke a wine glass and the host starts demanding hundreds of dollars to replace it, you would certainly balk. For my damage dispute, the host asked for $900 to replace the bed, and I expressed that this sounded a bit high for a particle board bed frame. If there is damage to the Airbnb, the host cannot simply make up a number they would like to charge. They must produce receipts for replacements or estimates for repairs.
- The phrases "wear and tear" and "reasonable use". Hosts are providing you a place to stay, but they cannot expect furniture to be in the same condition after months or years of use. If the damages could have come from normal wear and tear, point that out to Airbnb. Normal wear and tear is to be expected; if it's something like small scratches where the dining room chairs meet the floor, then that is to be expected after a while. Also, point out if the damages occurred during reasonable us. A chair should be able to support the body weight of a regular-sized person, a closet door should not come off the tracks when it is slid open, and you should not need to pay for damage that results from using a piece of furniture for its intended purpose. Doing parkour in an Airbnb is likely to lead to some damages that you would be responsible for, but making reasonable use of a piece of furniture should not.
- A response to the host's claim of purposeful damages. In my case, I questioned how the damage to the bed could have occurred if it was not caused by us merely sitting on a cheap wooden frame. I pointed out the bed was close to the wall and questioned how we might have caused the damages outside of reasonable and regular use of the bed. If a host is saying that you damaged the Airbnb, the onus is on them to provide an explanation and proof.
Step 7: Wait for a response
I waited anxiously for a final decision from the mediator but resisted the urge to reach out. The host must take time to draft their own response and the mediator must review all the pictures and evidence that is provided, as well as request any further documentation they need before making a decision.
In the end, because the damages had occurred from regular use of the apartment and I had maintained professional and prompt communication with Airbnb, they found in my favor. However, the whole ordeal did make me a bit more nervous about how I might be making myself vulnerable to spurious claims. In the future, I plan on taking a video of myself entering my vacation rentals and going through the apartment to show the state of the place when I arrive. Staying in a vacation rental may be an affordable alternative to a hotel, but you are certainly much more at risk of running across an unscrupulous host.
If you're keeping tabs on the art and tech worlds, you've probably been hearing whispers about "NFTs" for the past month. Just over the past week they've entered the mainstream lexicon.
Twitter founder Jack Dorsey made the news for selling his first ever tweet. The app has been teasing paid subscription models and newsletter-like features, but tweets for sale is "the next frontier."
just setting up my twttr— jack (@jack)1142974214.0
The 2006 tweet went up for auction as an NFT, and the current bid is $2.5 Million. But what does it mean to own that? Why would anyone want to? And what even is an NFT?
What does NFT stand for?
NFT stands for "non-fungible token." Essentially, it's like a proof of ownership sticker for something that exists on the internet. The NFT is a piece of code that acts like a watermark or a signature — if you own an NFT, you own the rights to that little piece of the internet. Because ownership is embedded into unique code on a blockchain, NFTs are impossible to make fakes of or replicate. The digital asset can be screenshotted or replicated, but the ownership cannot.
An NFT is different from a "fungible token," like a Bitcoin. The main distinction is that fungible tokens are interchangeable. They each have a 1:1 value with each other, but NFTs do not. So while one Bitcoin has the same exact value as another, an NFT of a random Popdust tweet does not have the same value of Jack Dorsey's inaugural tweet.
Talk of NFTs is often intertwined with cryptocurrency jargon, but they are not only the realm of Bitcoin bros. Unlike other forms of cryptocurrency, you don't need to know the specific ins and outs of the market in order to purchase an NFT — making NFTs accessible to those of us who have yet to hop onto Bitcoin, Ethereum, or even Dogecoin.
What Can Be an NFT?
Any digital asset can become an NFT. From a tweet to a gif to digital art, anything that exists on the internet can now be officially owned. NFTs have been around for a while, but only recently have they taken off as a way for digital creators to sell "official" versions of their content.
Anyone can screenshot a tweet or repost an Instagram meme, but NFTs allow consumers to own the rights to trade, sell, or keep and collect them. While digital art and internet ephemera are most ubiquitous as NFTs, the market is growing for more traditional collection fodder to be sold in this new format.
Digital art is now being sold like fine art, and baseball cards are no longer the realm of middle school lunch tables. As the market grows, so does the scale. While an NFT gif can go for around $5,000, recent digital sales have been making headlines for reaching millions and tens of millions.
"Everydays - The First 5000 Days" by Beeple was sold by Christie's as an NFT for $69M
Why Are People Talking About Them?
While Dorsey is not the first to rack up millions for selling digital ephemera, his tweet auction has propelled the market into the headlines. The hype surrounding the NFT market is similar to the recent astronomical trajectory of cryptocurrency and has even been compared to the GameStop saga.
In one way, NFTs are similar to investments like fine art and rare collectibles. And the traditional auction world is taking notice. Digital artist Beeple, who has been creating Everydays for 13 years and amassed millions of social media followers, is finally getting payout for the work he has been doing for free. Internationally renowned auction house Christie's launched its first ever digital-only auction with a Beeple NFT.
It sold for $69 Million.
While the astronomical prices may be driven by hype, the future of NFTs is becoming undeniable.
What's the Future of NFTs?
NFTs are changing the way artists and digital creators interact with followers and get paid. Soon we'll be seeing branded NFTs collected like Jordans or even NFTs to replace tour merch. Music NFTs are already making waves, too.
They're also changing the way we think about investing. Instead of investing in the stock market or in the traditional collectibles, internet fodder can now appreciate in value. And because so many NFT platforms serve crypto users, investors can watch the value of their items and their crypto rise separately to compound their earnings.
However, the unregulated world of NFTs is rising without anyone keeping vigilant watch. The murky waters of internet ownership that NFTs ostensibly solve get muddied when people are stealing art to turn into NFTs in the first place.
And while NFTs are purportedly decentralizing and democratizing art dealing and trading, the reality seems like the people benefitting are already rich and looking to get richer.
Long gone are the days when the majority of Americans dreamed about owning a home with a white picket fence.
The traditional American Dream may be on its deathbed, but that doesn't mean a core component of the vision can't survive. It simply takes a diverse perspective. People can still believe they can attain their own vision of success in society with hard work, knowledge, and risk-taking. Investing in today's American Dream may literally mean investing money in our modern economy, starting with our infrastructure.
Real estate investing in particular is a lucrative method that can boost income and secure a better financial future for many. There's always risk involved, but the payoffs can far outweigh the uncertainty. Selecting solid financial investments is about confidence and competence. If you're looking for some advice on this kind of investment, here are a few savvy tips for new real estate investors.
Stick To a Specific Strategy or Niche
Real estate is a challenging sphere of the business world, one that requires several key skills: groundwork knowledge, networking, perseverance, and organization. True knowledge of the real estate market will come with time and experience, but it's a smart idea to select one area of the market and stick to it. This is the best way to attain in-depth familiarity with your specific niche.
First, choose a geographical area close by and then a niche strategy within it, such as house flips, rental rehabs, or residential or commercial properties. By doing so, you can become aware of current inner working conditions in the market and you'll have a better idea of how these trends may change in the future.
Be Vigilant About Viable Financing Options
While it takes money to make money, you don't have to use all your own money. A common misconception about real estate investing is that you must be wealthy to start off. This isn't straight fact, however. A majority of people can test the waters of real estate investing without a lot of initial cash in their pocket.
Aside from traditional financing options from banks and institutions, private lending options can be worthy solutions. Hard money lenders are popular, reasonable choices, and they tend to have fewer qualification requirements upfront. However, be sure to strategically choose a hard money lender to find the best possible fit.
Master the Art of Finding Good Deals
There may be hundreds of thousands of available properties for sale on the current market, but the bulk of them will never amount to the final money-making result you desire. Another great tip for new real estate investors is to use good math to estimate profit. Taking risks is part of the process, but you have the ability to analyze properties and use networking sources to find the greatest deal. You can't win every deal, but you can steadily work towards a thriving financial future.