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.
Over two years into the most momentous event in our lives the world has changed forever … Some of us have PTSD from being locked up at home, some are living like everything’s going to end tomorrow, and the rest of us are merely trying to get by. When the pandemic hit we entered a perpetual state of vulnerability, but now we’re supposed to return to normal and just get on with our lives.
What does that mean? Packed bars, concerts, and grocery shopping without a mask feel totally strange. We got used to having more rules over our everyday life, considering if we really had to go out or keeping Zooming from our living rooms in threadbare pajama bottoms.
The work-from-home culture changed it all. Initially, companies were skeptical about letting employees work remotely, automatically assuming work output would fall and so would the quality. To the contrary, since March of 2020 productivity has risen by 47%, which says it all. Employees can work from home and still deliver results.
There are a number of reasons why everyone loves the work from home culture. We gained hours weekly that were wasted on public transport, people saved a ton of money, and could work from anywhere in the world. Then there were the obvious reasons like wearing sweats or loungewear all week long and having your pets close by. Come on, whose cat hasn’t done a tap dance on your keyboard in the middle of that All Hands Call!
Working from home grants the freedom to decorate your ‘office’ any way you want. But then people needed a change of environment. Companies began requesting their employees' RTO, thus generating the Hybrid Work Model — a blend of in-person and virtual work arrangements. Prior to 2020, about 20% of employees worked from home, but in the midst of the pandemic, it exploded to around 70%.
Although the number of people working from home increased and people enjoyed their flexibility, politicians started calling for a harder RTW policy. President Joe Biden urges us with, “It’s time for Americans to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again.”
While Boris Johnson said, “Mother Nature does not like working from home.'' It wasn’t surprising that politicians wanted people back at their desks due to the financial impact of working from the office. According to a report in the BBC, US workers spent between $2,000 - $5,000 each year on transport to work before the pandemic.
That’s where the problem lies. The majority of us stopped planning for public transport, takeaway coffee, and fresh work-appropriate outfits. We must reconsider these things now, and our wallets are paying
the price. Gas costs are at an all-time high, making public transport increase their fees; food and clothes are all on a steep incline. A simple iced latte from Dunkin’ went from $3.70 to $3.99 (which doesn’t seem like much but 2-3 coffees a day with the extra flavors and shots add up to a lot), while sandwiches soared by 14% and salads by 11%.
This contributes to the pressure employees feel about heading into the office. Remote work may have begun as a safety measure, but it’s now a savings measure for employees around the world.
Bloomberg are offering its US staff a $75 daily commuting stipend that they can spend however they want. And other companies are doing the best they can. This still lends credence to ‘the great resignation.’ Initially starting with the retail, food service, and hospitality sectors which were hard hit during the pandemic, it has since spread to other industries. By September 2021, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 4.4 million resignations.
That’s where the most critical question lies…work from home, work from the office or stick to this new hybrid world culture?
Borris Johnson thinks, “We need to get back into the habit of getting into the office.” Because his experience of working from home “is you spend an awful lot of time making another cup of coffee and then, you know, getting up, walking very slowly to the fridge, hacking off a small piece of cheese, then walking very slowly back to your laptop and then forgetting what it was you’re doing.”
While New York City Mayor Eric Adams says you “can't stay home in your pajamas all day."
In the end, does it really matter where we work if efficiency and productivity are great? We’ve proven that companies can trust us to achieve the same results — or better! — and on time with this hybrid model. Employees can be more flexible, which boosts satisfaction, improves both productivity and retention, and improves diversity in the workplace because corporations can hire through the US and indeed all over the world.
We’ve seen companies make this work in many ways, through virtual lunches, breakout rooms, paint and prosecco parties, and — the most popular — trivia nights.
As much as we strive for normalcy, the last two years cannot simply be erased. So instead of wiping out this era, it's time to embrace the change and find the right world culture for you.
What would get you into the office? Free lunch? A gym membership? Permission to hang out with your dog? Some employers are trying just that.
The rising trend of pet-friendly offices is part of the effort to incentivize employees to come back to work in person. Many companies completely embraced the remote-friendly convenience of WFH. Digital nomad culture emerged and “second cities” arose when people exited New York, San Francisco, and LA, and headed to Denver, Austin, Charlotte, Nashville, and Raleigh.
But now, employees and employers have a choice to make. The question now is: to return or not to return to the office? This is no longer about forcing employees to commute. Post The Great Resignation, employees feel more empowered to leave in-person positions and seek out remote jobs. So if offices want people to return, they’ve got to do a ton to entice their employees.
Some huge companies with giant operating budgets are not worried. With major perks like shiny facilities and full-service food bars, they feel comfortable requiring in-office work days — even if it’s for a hybrid week. But the solution might be simpler: pet-friendly workplaces.
The Allure of Pet-Friendly Offices
According to the Washington Post, pet-friendly workplaces are becoming a common solution to improve employee morale and appease the rising number of pandemic pet owners. “As offices start reopening and thousands of workers are being called back for the first time in two years, some companies are allowing employees to bring their pets. About 23 million American households adopted a pet during the pandemic, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Many workers say they find pet-friendly environments an important perk for their new furry family members. A recent survey conducted by Banfield Pet Hospital, owned by Mars Inc., showed that 57 percent of the 1,500 pet owners polled said they would be happiest returning to a pet-friendly workplace. Half of the 500 top executives surveyed said they are planning to allow pets at the office. Tech companies including Google, Amazon, and Uber plan to continue to allow dogs at their offices, even with their flexible office policies.”
With so many people adopting and fostering since the pandemic, becoming a pet parent is a trend. And to welcome these new additions into people’s lives, it makes sense for some workplaces to welcome them into the office.
After spending unlimited amounts of time at home, many pets grew greatly attached to their “parents” — and pet-parents feel the same about their pets. Rather than keeping them locked in the house while their caretakers head off to work, this is a mutually beneficial solution to the current separation anxiety faced by pets.
Pets have also been shown to boost happiness in pet owners. According to heart.org, “Studies show that dogs reduce stress, anxiety, and depression; ease loneliness; encourage exercise and improve your overall health. For example, people with dogs tend to have lower blood pressure and are less likely to develop heart disease. Just playing with a dog has been shown to raise levels of the feel-good brain chemicals oxytocin and dopamine, creating positive feelings and bonding for both the person and their pet.” Most likely, this might have a similar effect on people who bond with animals at work that don’t even belong to them, lending an overall mood boost to the office.
The controversy behind pet-friendly workplaces
However, not everyone is as enthusiastic about the prospect. Some would rather keep the office separate from their personal lives. Some are allergic to pets. And some people simply don’t like animals.
Offices considering pet-friendly policies are weighing the pros and cons to keep everyone happy. According to the Washington Post, clear guidelines and communication can increase the chances of success.
“Before making the jump, pet experts say that leaders should first understand whether their employees have interest in, or strong feelings against, having a pet-friendly office. Doing an anonymous survey may allow employees to freely share thoughts on the matter.”
Overall, the key to a policy like this is flexibility. “Be ready to adjust: Above all, pet-friendly offices should be ready to listen and adjust their policies as they go. What works for one office may not work for another, but experts say proper planning can lessen much of the burden.”
Ensure your office is actually suited to the pets you want to welcome. “A well-developed pet-friendly office should be both safe and welcoming to pets. That means companies should consider blocking off areas that could be dangerous to pets as well as making sure pets have access to clean water, food, and places to rest.”
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