Case Study

ProsFit: A fitting solution

18 pages
November 2015
Reference: IMD-7-1720

This case study features ProsFit, a European start-up company founded in 2013 that used breakthrough technology – Computer Aided Design (CAD) and 3D printing – to transform the way in which sockets for prosthetic limbs are produced. It promised to reduce fitting times considerably, improve comfort and cut production costs, helping to meet growing demand. Companies were registered in Bulgaria and in the UK. Proof of concept was established in April 2014, and ethics approval in the UK was granted. Two successful rounds of fundraising were completed at the time of publication of this case study in late 2015, and there were seven employees. It is a family firm, having been co-founded by father-and-son team Alan and Chris Hutchison. The latter is a double amputee and user of prosthetic limbs. Alan Hutchison is an experienced business developer, with a degree in Engineering Science from the University of Oxford. The decision to start the company stemmed from concern about the pain and discomfort Chris was experiencing with a prosthetic limb fitted traditionally as well as the lengthy time-to-comfort of the fitting process. Software scanning and 3D printing technology replaced the artisanal approach used for sculpting sockets. The company was set up to be both commercial and philanthropic, using profits from developed countries to subsidize sockets in developing nations. First invoices were issued in 2015. The founders estimated they had an18- to 24-month first-mover advantage from mid-2015.

Learning Objective

Discuss strategic choices facing a company in a market where existing services are sub-optimal and there is a disruptive technology, or the potential for a disruptive entrant, with particular focus on 1) local vs. global, 2) commercial vs. philanthropic, 3) specialization vs. developing other products. Discuss family firm governance, including matters such as a family council and succession and ownership when Generation 1 and 2 are co-founders of the business. Discuss the challenges of managing a business with a breakthrough technology allowing participants to analyze external risks and assess their potential impact; to engage in risk/opportunity analysis.

Keywords
Start-up, Disruptive Technology, Philanthropy, Family Governance, Family Ownership, Risk Analysis, Opportunity Assessment, Local vs. Global, Disruptive Entrant
Settings
Europe
ProsFit, Healthcare, Medical Devices
2013-2015
Type
Field Research
Copyright
© 2015
Available Languages
English
Related material
Teaching note, Video
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