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 the past month, both Haiti and Afghanistan have been pummeled by tragic disasters that left devastation in their wake.
In Haiti, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake erupted, leading over to 2,189 deaths and counting. A few hours later, in Afghanistan, Kabul fell to the Taliban just after U.S. troops had pulled out after 20 years of war.
In many ways, these disasters are both chillingly connected to US interference. The United States invaded Haiti in 1915, ostensibly promising to restore order after a presidential assassination but really intending to preserve the route to the Panama Canal and to defend US creditors, among other reasons.
But the US forces soon realized that they were not able to control the country alone, and so formed an army of Haitian enlistees, powered by US air power and intended to quell Haitian insurrection against US controls. Then, in 1934, the US pulled out on its own, disappointed with how slow progress was going. Haiti's institutions were never really able to rebuild themselves, leaving them immensely vulnerable to natural disasters.
Something similar happened in Afghanistan, where the US sent troops and supported an insurgent Afghan army – only to pull out, abandoning the country they left in ruins, with many Afghans supporting the Taliban.
In both cases, defense contractors benefited by far the most from the conflict, making billions in profits while civilians faced fallout and devastation. While the conflicts and circumstances are extremely different and while the US is obviously not solely to blame for either crisis, it's hard not to see the US-based roots of these disasters.
Today, in Haiti and Afghanistan, civilians are facing unimaginable tragedy.
Here are charities offering support in Afghanistan:
1. The International Rescue Committee is looking to raise $10 million to deliver aid directly to Afghanistan
2. CARE is matching donations for an Afghanistan relief fund. They are providing food, shelter, and water to families in need; a donation of $89.50 covers 1 family's emergency needs for a month.
3. Women for Women International is matching donations up to 500,000 for Afghan women, who will be facing unimaginable horrors under Taliban control.
4. AfghanAid offers support for people living in remote regions of Afghanistan.
5. VitalVoices supports female leaders and changemakers and survivors of gender-based violence around the world.
Here are charities offering support in Haiti:
1. Partners in Health has been working with Haiti for a long time, and they work with the Department of Health rather than around them, which is extremely important in a charity.
2. Health Equity International helps run Saint Boniface Hospital, a hospital in Haiti close to the earthquake's epicenter.
3. SOIL is an organization based Haiti, "a local organization with a track record of supporting after natural disasters." They are distributing hygiene kits and provisions on the ground to hospitals and to victims of the earthquake.
4. Hope for Haiti has been working in emergency response in Haiti for three decades, and their team is comprised of people who live and work in Haiti. They focus on supporting children and people in need across Haiti.
When the new Tiffany's campaign was unveiled, reactions were mixed.
Tiffany's, the iconic jewelry brand which does not (despite what some might be misled to believe) in fact serve breakfast, featured Jay Z, Beyoncé, and a rare Basquiat painting in their recent campaign.
The aesthetics were undeniably luxe and historic. The campaign showcased the rarely-seen Basquiat painting Equals Pi (1982), which the brand acquired for the background's proximity to its distinctive Tiffany blue. Also notably historic is that Beyoncé was the first Black woman to wear the 128.54 carat Tiffany Diamond.
Before Beyoncé, the only other stars to wear the yellow diamond were Mary Whitehouse, wife of American diplomat Edwin Sheldon Whitehouse, Hollywood icon Audrey Hepburn, and singer Lady Gaga.
"Beyoncé and Jay-Z are the epitome of the modern love story …. Love is the diamond that the jewelry and art decorate," said the press release accompanying the campaign.
The campaign, titled "About Love," is stunning and has both classic and contemporary references. The image of the couple posing in front of high art recalled the iconic stills from their "APESHIT" music video, for which they famously rented out the Louvre and posed in front of the Mona Lisa.
THE CARTERS - APESHIT (Official Video) www.youtube.com
Their "APESHIT" photo made a giant cultural impact for its juxtaposition of Western beauty and Blackness. Tiffany's campaign seemed to have similar goals — showcasing Beyoncé and Jay Z as the peak of luxury, this time juxtaposing the Basquiat and the Tiffany diamond.
As a Black couple, their appearance in such a luxury campaign was a big move for representation, but in a post 2020 landscape, there was an outcry of criticism.
Despite the aesthetic beauty of the image, the high capitalist undertones didn't sit right with some on the internet — largely younger demographics. Though this campaign was an effort by Tiffany's to appeal to younger audiences and make the brand feel more relevant, Twitter's verdict was clear: a blood diamond wasn't the way to go.
The diamond, which was mined in South Africa in 1877, comes from origins laden in the implications of colonialism. The practice of mining in South Africa at the time was exploitative and destructive, eschewing the livelihoods and safety of African miners and their communities for... what? Money? So Tiffany could try to sell us some dream of affluence using Black celebrities as to "Blackwash" the history behind their treasured piece?
The Washington Post also had some choice words, saying: "Its campaign does not celebrate Black liberation — it elevates a painful symbol of colonialism. It presents an ostentatious display of wealth as a sign of progress in an age when Black Americans possess just 4 percent of the United States's total household wealth. If Black success is defined by being paid to wear White people's large colonial diamonds, then we are truly still in the sunken place."
Alongside the campaign, Tiffany & Co have promised to donate $2 million to HBCUs to fund scholarships and internships. But this measly amount (considering the multi-billion dollar net worth behind LVMH) is not enough to cover up that, despite their performative efforts to promote "diversity," Tiffany's is entrenched in a colonial history that neither beauty nor Beyonce can make us ignore.
While Black representation has been increasing over the past few years, the question of how we are represented is starting to be considered with more nuance. And as we examine the structures of wealth and hierarchical values, many people are starting to ask whether these should be the standards we aspire to anymore.
Jay Z and Beyoncé have come under fire before for their promotion of Black Capitalist values — which the kids don't seem to want. Jay Z especially seems invested in the trappings of traditional (read: white) success and wealth. His cannabis line recently unveiled a campaign based on the work Slim Aarons — which was famously focused on "attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places" — and its unashamed opulence raised some eyebrows.
Images like this aren't as revolutionary as they once might have been since they reinforce the status quo and tell marginalized people to reach for the same luxuries and lifestyles deemed aspirational by the people who have oppressed them.
Anti-capitalist theory has been around as long as capitalism has, but younger generations are more likely to question the status quo — even when it comes packed with Basquiat and Beyoncé.
The conversation about the Tiffany campaign is indicative of how Gen Z thinks differently about money and what it means to them. They are less likely to be seduced by the luster of the aspirational, and more receptive to relatability.
No more does financial literacy seem restricted to the pretentious or the elite — we get it, finance bros; you love capitalism. With Cleo, understanding your money is something that can align users with their values.
And those values don't look like blood diamonds or corporate pandering.
- Sorry, Beyoncé, but Tiffany's blood diamonds aren't a girl's best friend - Washington Post
- The Black-white wealth gap left Black households more vulnerable — Brookings
- The Unashamed Opulence of Jay Z's Luxury Cannabis-Themed Slim Aarons Photoshoot — Popdust
- ATTRACTIVE PEOPLE DOING ATTRACTIVE THINGS IN ATTRACTIVE PLACES WITH SLIM AARONS — Elle Decor
Road trips can be a lot of fun — but they can also drain your wallet quickly if you aren't careful.
From high gas costs and park admission fares to lodging and the price of eating out every night, the expenses can add up quickly. But at the same time, it's very possible to do road trips cheaply and efficiently. Without the headache of worrying about how much money you're leaking, you can enjoy the open road a whole lot more. Here's how to save money on a road trip.
1. Prepare Your Budget, Route, and Packing List in Advance
If you want to save money on a road trip, be sure you're ready to go. Try to count up all your expenses before you hit the road and create a budget. It's also a good idea to plan your route in advance so you don't end up taking unnecessary, gas-guzzling detours. And finally, be sure to pack in advance so you don't find yourself having to buy tons of things you forgot along the way.
2. Book Cheap Accommodations — Or Try Camping
All those motel rooms can add up surprisingly quick, but camping is often cheap or free, and it's a great way to get intimate with the place you're visiting. You can check the Bureau of Land Management's website for free campsites. Freecampsite.com also provides great information on If you don't have a tent or don't want to camp every night, try booking cheap Airbnbs or booking hotels in advance, making sure to compare prices.
camping road tripConde Nast Traveler
If you're planning on sleeping in your car, a few tips: WalMart allows all-night parking, as do many 24-hour gyms. (Buying a membership to Planet Fitness or something like it also gives you a great place to stop, shower, and recharge while on the road).
3. Bring Food From Home
Don't go on a road trip expecting to subsist on fast food alone. You'll wind up feeling like shit, and it'll drain your pocketbook stunningly quickly. Instead, be sure to bring food from home. Consider buying a gas stove and a coffee pot for easy on-the-go meals, and make sure you bring substantial snacks to satiate midday or late night cravings so you can avoid getting those late night Mickey D's expeditions.
Try bringing your own cooler, filling it with easy stuff for breakfast and lunch — some bread and peanut butter and jelly will go a long way. Bring your own utensils, plates, and napkins, and avoid buying bottled water by packing some big water jugs and a reusable water bottle. Alternatively, try staying at hotels or Airbnbs with kitchens so you can cook there.
4. Avoid Tolls
Apps like Google Maps and Waze point out toll locations, so be sure to avoid those to save those pennies. (If it takes you too far off route, you might have to bite the bullet and drive across that expensive bridge).
You can also save on parking fees by using sites like Parkopedia.
Road TripThe Orange Backpack
5. Save on Gas
Gas can get pricy incredibly fast, so be sure that you're stopping at cheap gas stations. Free apps like GasBuddy help you find the most affordable gas prices in the area. Also, try going the speed limit on the highways — anything faster will burn through your tank. Be sure that you don't wait till you arrive at touristy locations or big cities to fill up.
6. Get a National Park Pass
All those parks can get really expensive really fast. If you're planning on visiting three or more parks, it's a great idea to get an America the Beautiful National Parks Pass. For $80 you can get into every National Park for one year.