While most people in college dorm rooms spend their time daydreaming about the weekend, Joshua Aferzon spent his time dreaming up plans for his first medical device company.
Orthozon Technologies L.L.C., founded by the 2011 University of Connecticut graduate, is quickly gaining momentum in the medical device field.
The company launched its first minimally invasive tool for spine surgeons in March and already the tool is being used in four Connecticut hospitals. In June Aferzon plans to position the tool in four additional states, and within his first year he expects to be running a more-than $1 million company with a developing portfolio of tools.
â€œItâ€™s a really exciting time,â€ Aferzon said. â€œRight now itâ€™s all about getting ready to go and sell. Itâ€™s refreshing to get to that stage finally.â€
Aferzon said he got his start at the age of 16 when he developed his first patent. He began researching medical devices as a biomedical engineering undergraduate at UConnâ€™s Storrs campus and is now one credit away from earning a masterâ€™s degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
With the support of an advisory panel made up of doctors and executives, Aferzon designed his first device, the Lumiere surgical retractor, to give physicians greater visibility during spinal procedures. The tool uses patented fiber optic lighting and maintains a minimally invasive design to allow for faster and less painful recovery for patients after a surgery.
In March the stateâ€™s quasi-public financing entity, Connecticut Innovations Inc., provided $150,000 in pre-seed capital to Orthozon. Before that, the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development had provided Orthozon with a $100,000 grant. Aferzon has since generated private funds to match both the grant and subsequent investment.
â€œWith an influx of cash, we were really able to get off the ground in a matter of months,â€ Aferzon said.
â€œThe DECD funding was the first and most critical,â€ he said. â€œI owe them a lot.â€
Already, Aferzon has hired a couple employees and he is working on the designs for his next device, a spinal implant.
As his company grows, Aferzon said it is important to him to be able to contribute to the stateâ€™s economy and hire more employees.
â€œI grew up here. So for me, this state is very close to heart,â€ he said, adding that he surveyed what other states had to offer and came away impressed with Connecticutâ€™s business incentive packages. Aferzon has also been an active member of the Stamford entrepreneurship community, leasing a private suite at the Stamford Innovation Center.
â€œOther states didnâ€™t show as much interest in me as Connecticut did,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s helped me out a lot. â€¦Itâ€™s a wonderful opportunity to be here, growing. Iâ€™m happy to be here.â€
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