Tactile Medical Founder Launches $500K Round For New Massage Device
Irene Waldridge sees a big future for her latest venture Eva Medtec LLC, a Shakopee-based massage therapy company. In fact, she believes the potential for Eva Medtec far outweighs that of Tactile Medical, a home therapy devices manufacturer she founded in 1995, which grew to the point of going public in July—the only Minnesota company to do so in nearly two years.
The elemental difference between the two businesses, Waldridge says, is the consumers being targeted.
With Tactile Medical, its products specifically targeted patients with venous leg ulcers and lymphedema, or a blockage in the immune or circulatory system in one’s limbs. Although more than 100 million people worldwide suffer from lymphedema, only a fraction are in the United States where Tactile Systems products are available.
On the other hand, the Caressa Therapeutic Massage System, Eva’s latest product, is directly aimed at treating individuals receiving massages for neck, shoulder and back pain. According to the American Massage Therapy Association, that patient pool totaled 39.1 million last year, or approximately 18 percent of all adult Americans. Furthermore, industry reports show the massage therapy business to be worth $12.1 billion.
Having started her career as a massage therapist, Waldridge told TCB she’s more than aware of the variety of products and services available in the massage space. However, the Caressa, she said, differs from other products on the market.
“There are massage beds out there, massage chairs and massage cushions that you put on chairs,” Waldridge said. “Those are all for luxury-type massage, not for pain management. Ours is specifically for pain management. And those products use mechanical rollers or vibration. Instead, ours uses air.”
At about 18 inches in length, the Caressa is made up of 32 layers, half of which are cushioned support and the other half inflatable chambers. Inside the inflatable chambers are thousands of microbeads, which travel around and pop against the surface. Waldridge said it is the use of the microbeads and contouring support layers that create the product’s “unique relaxing sensation.”
Currently, a date has not been pinpointed for an official product launch. As of this month, Eva Medtec entered a fundraising round with a goal of $500,000. A filing from last Friday shows the company has already attracted $100,000 from a single investor. That money, Waldridge said, will go towards product development.
Down the road, she sees the product becoming available on store shelves and online for between $399 and $499 (although a price has yet to be nailed down).
“Before I started Tactile Medical, I really had my heart set on doing something like this for back pain because of my history as a massage therapist,” Waldridge said. “And I truly believe this company is going to be bigger than Tactile Medical.”