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.
Let’s face it: this sucks.
After a massive vaccine campaign, a pretty successful hot-vax summer, and a pre-holiday season which made us believe things would finally-finally be getting back to normal, we were introduced to the Omicron variant.
As booster shots slowly rolled out, none of us were prepared for how hard and how fast this surge would hit. Unlike other variants, Omicron is more resistant to the vaccine and is infecting even those with booster shots and antibodies.
And it’s really effing scary.
Places like New York are teetering on the edge of another lockdown as restaurants close, offices shut down, and events get canceled. In short: it feels like March 2020 again.
In the words of the perpetually relatable Olivia Rodrigo: “do you get deja vu?” Yes, Olivia, we do.
There are some differences to this surge. Luckily most people — especially the vaccinated among us — are experiencing mild symptoms. While numbers are up, hospitals are not as overwhelmed as they were when the virus first slammed us.
However, this time, many of us are experiencing pandemic burn out — mentally and financially.
When the pandemic first began, no one could have imagined how long it would last. Many people who were furloughed or working from home saw it as taking a few weeks off to relax and unwind. Obviously, this was not the case. Rates of unemployment skyrocketed and some were forced to move out of their homes to save money or take other dramatic, unexpected measures.
What did this look like? Burning through savings accounts, plunging into credit card debt, and adopting the precarious paycheck-to-paycheck cycle. According to CNBC “42% of U.S. adults with credit card debt have increased those balances since the Covid-19 pandemic began in March 2020.”
And while employment rates are up in 2021 and the Great Resignation has seen people seeking and finding better opportunities, the Omicron surge proves it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.
In a recent money confessional on Slate’s “Pay Dirt” column, one reader expressed their frustration at the financial setbacks they experienced during the pandemic. While they were not totaled by the changes, they had to drastically adjust their life plans.
The columnist responded: “A lot of people had their dreams shattered in 2020 … Just because your situation isn’t the same as your more-hard-hit co-workers’ doesn’t mean that you aren’t grieving the loss of your income,” giving us all permission to feel the negative feelings. They continued: “Toxic positivity is very real in the United States and inspires a lot of people to say that no matter what their life is like, they should be happy … But you can be happy and grateful, yet still, acknowledge the suck in a situation.”
This perspective reflects a necessary shift that we all need to make. Especially as we approach yet another perilous year in the land of Covidia. It’s soooo hard to continue — and continue and continue — being grateful and not be, quite frankly, fed up. So what can we do about it?
As everything is spiraling out of control, there are small things you can do to feel less overwhelmed. And maybe, less bitter, sad, or resentful — provide room to process and accept this unfortunate reality as best you can.
Feel Your Feelings
Toxic positivity festers when we assume we should feel a certain way and don’t pause to let ourselves feel our negative feelings. Emotion comes from the Latin emovere - to "move out, remove, agitate." If we really break it down we get ex "out" + movere "to move." What does that mean to us living in America in the early days of 2022? Get those negative emotions outta here. Feel them and move ‘em out.
Then take a deep look, free from judgment, at how you’re actually doing in your day-to-day life. Try daily journaling, or delve into meditation.
Take Stock of your Life
Often, without realizing it, we fall into habits that become patterns and routines that eventually become our whole lives. So, when these habits are disrupted …. by, I don’t know, a global pandemic … we’re shaken out of our comfort zone and into reality. Take a glance at your life. What are you actually, truly, grateful for? What is mere distraction?
Make a Plan
Our spending habits are the first thing to spiral out of control and the most difficult to course-correct. If you’re worried about your financial health during this time — or you want to be more vigilant just in case — try the Cleo app. This holistic service manages your money for you and helps you gain control and improve your situation. Managing your money no longer feels like a chore, and it’s actually fun!
All in all, Meet Cleo makes you feel like you have a handle on your finances. And in these uncertain times, just being aware of your standing can offer a world of comfort. With Meet Cleo as your side, you no longer have to cave to toxic positivity. This app keeps it real and chats with you like your honest, most blunt friend. And for that, we thank her.
Find out more about Cleo here and put yourself on the path to financial control.
When you think of personal finance, what springs to mind?
Kevin O'Leary of Shark Tank fame? Dave Ramsay yelling into a podcast mic? Finance bros tracking their bitcoin? Unfortunately, these are the images we're constantly bombarded by. So they're the archetypes overwhelmingly represented in personal finance.
But it's not all Chads in down vests and dad-types shaming you about your financial faux paus, the personal finance world has grown increasingly more dynamic and diverse.
With the rise of social media, the importance of financial literacy has entered the mainstream, as essential information is no longer confined to impenetrable, official documents. Instead, educators have changed their approach and are making the intimidating world of managing your money far less scary.
Through graphics, memes — and other whimsical mediums — online financial advice that's geared to younger generations is more and more common.
Now, with the help of TikTok — an app unique for wildly popularizing previously niche subjects — personal finance talk has become ubiquitous.
Who's Doing the Talking
The beauty of social media is its power to democratize. Though TikTok has been criticized for promoting those its algorithm chooses — and has even resulted in strikes from Black Creators demanding to be given more credit — it's also granted platforms to people with different experiences and backgrounds.
When it comes to financial advice, TikTok makes it super relatable. No longer is advice restricted to "skip your morning latte" and "quit that avocado toast" or other millennial-shaming behavior. These days, young people directly advise their peers by sharing sympathetic experiences.
From debt repayment to financial freedom journeys, people are engaging with the obscure realm of finances in a charismatic way.
Financial Feminists … But Don't Call Them Girlbosses
One huge TikTok sub-movement that's emerged is the Financial Feminist movement, which urges women specifically to take charge of their finances.
However, this isn't a repeat of the early 2010s Girlboss Feminism or even Corporate Feminism which encourages women to rise up within an established system. This is a whole new ball game.
By empowering women to speak to each other, personal finance is no longer a shame-game. Instead of scrolling through Reddit threads that mock people who support the trappings of the patriarchy like makeup or highly-feminine clothing — which are often deemed necessary for society to take one seriously, if not by Reddit bloggers — women learn from other women about how to manage their lives.
There's also information about unlearning feminized behaviors, helping women break out of socially coded patterns which hold them back from asking for help, asking for more or asserting — and believing! — their true value.
Financial Feminism takes into account the wage gap, talking about gendered norms and systems that prevent us from living financial lives equal to male counterparts.
Even more radical, however, are accounts which incorporate intersectional politics and social commentary. Instead of merely assessing the numbers, they examine the social structures and hierarchies that cause people to treat their money differently and radically affects how they live their lives.
These little communities have become hubs for financial empowerment for marginalized genders with the mission of helping them know themselves better, do better — and have fun while doing it!
Despite its addictive charm, you can't live your life on TikTok alone.
So while Personal Finance TikTok is an okay place to start, taking effective action means getting off TikTok… and onto a better app. Cleo is a budgeting app that's as engaging as TikTok, but actually helps you do the things you're learning.
According to their website, Cleo integrates all your accounts and — like a financially savvy and brutally honest friend — reveals what's truly going on in your wallet.
Cleo is like the coolest finance major you'll ever meet. Simply text her all your questions about your spending, your habits, and your current balances, and she'll give it to you straight.
She'll also tell you when you're running low — like when you really should skip that Starbucks stop so you'll have money left for the subway home — and keeps you on track of your goals.
Ah yes, 'tis finally the giving season!
As someone whose love-language is gift giving, I relish most opportunities to spoil my friends with sweet tokens of appreciation. I am the queen of spontaneous gifts. When I'm puttering around the city, doing my silly little tasks, I always perk up when I find some small trinket that I can give my friends.
Nothing says "I love you" more than saying, "hey, this reminded me of you." And then handing them a nod to a past conversation, or a memory we share. So, sorry to my friends for cluttering your houses with sentimental junk, but I'm even more apologetic for my fatal flaw: when it comes to the holidays … I always draw a blank!
To me, organic gifting is much more genuine than holiday gifting. Yet, if I were to use that as an excuse for turning up empty-handed to every single holiday party this season. I fear I'd start the new year off with fewer friends. And, as someone who loves to receive gifts just as much, I don't want to chance burning bridges that might hold presents on the other side.
So, when the holiday season arrives, I spend far too much of my precious time strategizing my gifts for my friends.
Often, when I draw a blank, I end up splurging on expensive gifts — a luxury candle, a decadent face oil, a classy bottle of perfume. Sure, these opulent gifts are a cop out, but they're guaranteed successes. Upon opening a package containing their favorite, overpriced indulgence who wouldn't smile?
Due to my holiday default, I'm forced to do some serious budget planning to accommodate my lavish spending. Or, more often, I go spectacularly over-budget.
However, this year, I must make a change. After my summer of post-vax hedonism that granted justification to spend more money than I'd ever dare, my holiday budget's looking pretty lean.
After sitting myself down and giving myself a strict talking to about prioritizing my savings, I've come up with some tips on how to save money around the holidays:
Review your budget
The amount of money we think we spend and the money we actually spend are two very different numbers. Grab a drink, pull out your bank statements, it's time to get to the bottom of your spending.
Take a look at two or three months and categorize your purchases. Which ones were intentional? Which ones were emotional? And how many times did you go to the coffee shop just to feel something and leave with a $10 latte and pastry? Once the truth is laid out in front of you, it's easy to see where you're bleeding money.
For me, it's coffee shops and boutique clothing stores I discover during jaunts around trendy neighborhoods. Whatever your vices are, do your best to become aware of them.
Budgeting apps like Cleo have helped me curb my impulse spending a ton! Cleo talks to me like a friend would — a friend who is not afraid to tell me no and call me out on my overspending. We all need a friend like Cleo, so download the app and watch your budget change overnight.
via Cleo App
Cut out what you don't need
It's all well and good to glance at your spending, but the next step is brutal: get honest with yourself about the purchases you could have gone without. But this isn't about deprivation, it's prioritization. What can you relinquish now to ensure you have a great holiday season later?
Cringing at past impulse buys I've made, I vowed to avoid my typical temptations, since I couldn't resist them. I know I'm easily lured into charming little storefronts downtown. So I took new routes home, avoiding the streets where all the cool clothes lie, waiting for me to cave.
I'm sure, in good time, I'll be back. But that's a problem for 2022-me. Until then, we just have to hold out for less than two months, get the gifts our friends deserve, and then it's back to regularly scheduled planning.
Make a spending plan
Saving without a plan usually leads to spending. As you narrow down what you can afford, figure out what you want to buy. I like to split it into categories: larger expenses vs. affordable picks.
Here's the fun part: shopping around. Sometimes I only have a general idea of what I want to buy, and sometimes I have specifics in mind. Either way, I love to shop around for a deal.
When it comes to saving money, research is paramount. Various vendors might have different prices, promotional codes, or sales. A quick Google search can often save you 10% or more, so don't take the first price you see as gospel.
via Cleo App
After finding the best price, I can budget for what I'm going to buy and when. Which takes me to ….
Take advantage of sales … strategically
The holiday season brings with it the promise of big, blowout sales. But, if you're not careful, you can end up spending more money during a sale — which is precisely the stores' intention.
Don't fall victim to the allure of those big, red "SALE" stickers. Instead, plot out how to take advantage of a number of sales for different products. Adding those sale prices to your spending plan will keep you focused and on track, instead of buying frivolous items no one will ever use just because the prices are slashed.
Saving money over the holidays doesn't mean you have to make a Scrooge of yourself. You can still gift and gift well, just more intelligently. Spending with intention is key to savings, while investing thoughtfully into your relationships.
Apps like Cleo can help you keep your finances on track without feeling overwhelming. With one download, you could be on your way to mega-savings.