Success Story: SedMed

Toilet lift assist device makes the bathroom safer for elderly people and healthcare workers

SedMed founder Jeremy Bronen in the workshop with an oversized funding check from FORGE

Did you know that the most dangerous room in your house is the bathroom? The Centers for Disease Control report that every year, about 235,000 people older than 15 are injured in the bathroom. The risks are greatest for older people with mobility or balance issues. Luckily, durable medical equipment startup SedMed has created a product to make the bathroom safer for elderly people and the medical staff and family members who care for them.

From engineering school with grandma to mass production

SedMed’s origin story

Jeremy Bronen posing with the SedMed toilet lift assist

Jeremy Bronen started early on the path that would lead him to become founder and CEO of SedMed. Since he was a kid, he was always interested in making things and solving problems. So, he studied mechanical engineering at the University of Connecticut (UConn). The sponsor for his senior mechanical engineering design project was Timothy Krupski. Krupski was living with “Grandma Grace,” an elderly woman who had recently survived a stroke. Grace needed a wheelchair to get around and was struggling with toilet transfers (getting on and off the toilet). Krupski sponsored Bronen’s senior project to come up with a toilet lift that could help Grace. The lift they designed became the basis of SedMed’s successful product. 

Along the way, they joined a program at UConn’s Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. There, they interviewed more than 1,000 potential SedMed users, from elderly and disabled people to healthcare workers. 

“Those interviews were incredibly impactful for guiding me in how big the problem was, what it was, and how to solve it,” Bronen said. “Helping people go to the bathroom isn’t a sexy problem, but it’s a really big and important one!” 

During SedMed’s research and development, Bronen learned that 80 percent of falls occur in the bathroom for those over 65 and that healthcare workers in assisted living and rehab facilities are at risk of injury when they lift patients during toilet transfers. SedMed’s team designed its toilet lift assist to address those concerns. 

The saga of the toilet lift assist

The SedMed toilet lift assist is a piece of durable medical equipment (DME) and an FDA class 1 device. Its FDA class means it’s low-risk to use – in the same category as wheelchairs and band-aids. DMEs are equipment/supplies that healthcare providers order for patients to use for a long time. Other examples of DMEs include walkers, blood glucose monitors, and CPAP machines.
Thanks to all those user interviews, the lift is also very appealing to SedMed’s investors and customer base.
“I travel around to healthcare facilities to sell SedMed, and you’d be shocked how often people in the facilities we sell to ask if we sell to individuals,” Bronen said.
The need for a good toilet transfer solution and SedMed’s hard work have resulted in the company achieving every physical product startup’s dream: reaching mass production!

FORGE’s impact

Bronen demonstrating the SedMed toilet lift assist at the FORGE CT Launch and pitch contest
Bronen demonstrates the SedMed toilet lift assist during the FORGE Connecticut Launch at the Trinity Innovation Center in Hartford, Conn.

To give back to the next generation of mechanical engineers, SedMed sponsors UConn senior design projects. Bronen met FORGE Vice President Adam Rodrigues at a senior design project event. After learning about SedMed, Rodrigues encouraged Bronen to apply for FORGE’s first pitch competition in Connecticut. 

SedMed entered the competition. FORGE selected them to pitch, and the competition judges chose SedMed to win the $20,000 first prize. SedMed found another funding opportunity that day when an investor heard its founders’ pitch. 

“We not only won the event, but gained a fantastic investor,” Bronen said. 

Since then, SedMed has taken advantage of FORGE’s personalized introductions to members of its supply chain network. 

“I was desperately looking for exactly what FORGE does for the first two years of SedMed,” Bronen said. “If I’d discovered FORGE sooner, I would have saved a lot of time, money, and headaches. I’m happy they’re here to serve entrepreneurs and boost the ecosystem.”

Bronen pitching at the FORGE CT launch

Looking forward: beyond the bathroom

Bronen anticipates more growth for SedMed. The “silver tsunami” of aging Baby Boomers is beginning to need help with activities of daily living (ADLs) like toileting, bathing, and eating. Bronen envisions SedMed expanding into an ADL solutions company, preventing falls and improving elderly users’ independence in and out of the restroom. To choose what solution to create next, SedMed will turn to its users and customers. 

“Customer discovery will dictate what we’ll do. We need to find the biggest pain points – the activities causing the most costs, injuries, and deaths. You can always solve a problem, but finding the right problem to solve is the challenge.” 

Based on the toilet lift assist’s success, it looks like SedMed is well-equipped to find and solve the next problem for elderly people and their caretakers!

By the numbers

  1. People 85 and older suffer more than 50 percent of injuries near the toilet 
  2. The average healthcare workers’ comp claim is about $40,000; 24 percent of those claims are due to overexertion  
  3. SedMed’s toilet lift assist lifts up to 80 percent of users’ body weight 
  4. SedMed has raised $1.7M in investments and $115,000 in grants