COVID-19 relief options and additional resources

Flexing Small Business Muscles

Joe Koeneman of Kinetic Muscle, Inc. knows what it’s like to give, and get a helping hand. An engineer with 35 years of medical device technology experience, Koeneman and his son Edward founded Kinetic Muscles, Inc. (KMI) in 2001, just as the meltdown was beginning. “We have survived two big recessions now,” says Jim. The company develops and sells products that aid in stroke recovery and rehabilitation. Its Hand Mentor was developed with an SBIR grant and approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). “It was boring so we redesigned it in 2007 to add graphics and video games,” Jim recalls. “It now keeps people motivated and interested while they’re doing repetitive exercises. “The Foot Mentor followed in 2010. As Jim puts it, “It’s like having a personal trainer at the gym, the games get more difficult as you get better. “Most of KMI’s current customers didn’t grow up with video games, so the team has kept the graphics pretty basic. The company currently has a contract with the Department of Defense to develop video games to help rehabilitate traumatic brain injury patients, for whom the graphics will be different. “These are young guys coming back from war, and their familiarity with video games is far different from our other clients. “Two trends are driving the company’s business: demographics and the rising cost of healthcare. Baby boomers are coming into the stroke age and as a result KMI’s customer base keeps growing. At the same time, a lot of healthcare plans are cutting back on therapy benefits. “Stroke patients need a lot of repetition,” Koenemann explains. “With our products, patients can do the exercises at home and our devices are designed to send patient data to a secure server where a therapist can log in. No actual visit is needed. “Despite having raised about $9 million through contracts and grants, the company needed help finding and marketing to investors. So, Jim and Edward turned to the Maricopa Community College’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) where analyst Sanjay Dhole, according to Jim, “helped us focus and prepare our presentation to major investors and as a result we have been able to attract some angel funding to help grow our company.”KMI personnel, now numbering 8, attend events at the Chandler Innovations Incubator designed to help hi-tech companies and it’s where Sonjay routinely counsels clients. As per Jim, “The SBDC has a lot of resources and Sonjay is good to bounce ideas off of. “Advice to Others: “You have to love what you do and like the process. There aren’t a lot of other people around, so you’re going to have to do most of it yourself. The SBDC can help and their services are free.”