After seeing her father struggling to walk and do other tasks that many of us take for granted, the Founder and Managing Director of Walk With Path, Lise Pape decided to create simple solutions that have a positive impact on those, who are suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
It was important to her that, the solution should not have any side effects but rather only add positive benefit, which eventually laid the foundation stone for Walk With Path. According to Lise, bringing Path Finder LaserShoes to the market was a key achievement, which is changing the daily lives of its users for better.
In an interview with Insights Success, Lise Pape the Founder and Managing Director of Walk With Path has shared valuable insights about her company and its struggles. Below are the highlights of the interview between Lise and Insights Success;
Describe your background and what did you do before you started or came into this business?
With a background working and studying in human biology, finance, advertising and product development, I was studying Innovation Design Engineering at The Royal College of Art (RCA) and Imperial College London, a course focused on enterprise, entrepreneurship, incubation and business support at the Royal College of Art in London, when I came up with the idea for the system.
I worked closely on the idea with a partner from my RCA class, Florian Puech, who had an engineering background. Then the RCA’s own incubator helped us get more structure to our idea and work through the business basics, such as getting a legal agreement in place. We joined the global startup accelerator Mass Challenge and obtained grants from the Dyson Foundation, Helen Hamlyn Trust and Nesta, among others.
What people, what books, what life factors have influenced and impacted you?
My father suffers from Parkinson’s and after seeing him struggle to walk and do other tasks that many of us take for granted, I set out on a mission to create a solution that could help him and other people living with Parkinson.
What is the operating philosophy and cutting-edge solutions/services that the company has been built on?
It was important to me that the solution should not have any side effects (like drugs) but rather only add positive benefits. This was the beginning of Path Finder LaserShoes for people with Parkinson’s and why I founded Walk With Path.
What is your vision for the company for the next five years?
We want to mobilise other groups of vulnerable individuals and help improve their quality of life. We are now developing Path Feel to help people with diabetes, stroke and multiple sclerosis. People who live with these chronic diseases are often struggling to walk because they have peripheral neuropathy (a loss of sensation in the soles of their feet). We wish to launch a product that will help, mobilise and provide confidence to millions of people worldwide.
According to you, which upcoming/current technology is going to be a disruptive force in a near future?
One of the main challenges in designing Path Feel is the lack of space fitting the battery into the insole. We are aiming to fit a battery that will last for at least a day of use with the current technology available (e.g. batteries) for the first version of the product we will put on the market. However, the rate of innovation allows us to predict that battery technology will significantly advance and batteries will become smaller and more compact with similar if not greater capacity. Solid-state batteries are meant to be widely available on the market in the next five years and can contain up to three times more energy per unit weight than conventional lithium-ion batteries so we are planning to monitor new battery technologies to use in our next version.
As a CEO/leader, describe a challenge you overcame.
Being a start-up in health-tech and in hardware gave us a lot of challenges. Trying to source first stage investment is not easy and it may take some time before you are able to make your first sale. Health-tech solutions are a type of products that have quite a long time to market. Health-tech is also heavily regulated and you need to adhere to the standards of regulation. Therefore, bringing Path Finder LaserShoes to the market was a key achievement, and it feels incredibly rewarding to hear from our users how it is changing their daily lives for the better.
How do you sustain your entrepreneurial/leadership spirit in this changing technological era?
I listen to the end users of our product. On a daily basis we help hundreds of people live a free and independent life. One user told me how he was able to keep working instead of having to go on early retirement – simply because he was now able to walk to the train station and go to work. Stories like that keep me motivated and give me strength to overcome the challenges that we face every day.
What advice would you like to give to the emerging business leaders?
Try to find an investor that is a good match to you and make clear what you expect from them and if you are looking for an active partner or more passive support. Connect with likeminded people. It has been very valuable for me to be a part of many of the networks that Walk With Path is a part of, such as Mass Challenge, EIT, AARP, Social Innova, Cartier and SIT Alumni Network. It is also paramount that you stay persistent and not at least patient if you are in health-tech.