Photo by Alexander Wyatt
It’s not always easy turning our hardships into something others can prosper from.
When unexpected incidents occur and we are left to either grow or give up, a lot of times we choose the easier option: give up. However, this was not the case for 23-year-old entrepreneur and CEO of Maven Therapy, Miguel Velert.
In 2011, a mere freshman in the shark tank that we call high school, Miguel was in an accident. An avid skier, he broke his back after a nasty fall during a skiing trip in West Virginia, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. Immediately following the accident, Miguel only had full control of his left arm, resulting in him using an electric wheelchair. He wanted to become independent again, but struggled to know how—until his father, alongside an engineer, developed a machine that would change everything.
It was completed in 2013—an exercise machine that Miguel could use when he no longer had physical therapy. After using the machine for a year, he developed complete control of his left arm again and began using a manual wheelchair, a big step towards his desire to once again become independent.
His life was, once again, changing. This time, however, it was a change that he had waited for. It was a change that he wanted others in his situation to experience. “We saw the potential of this device when we saw how much it had helped me; not only to regain movement in my arm, but also to recover and be able to live an independent life,” Miguel says.
And that’s when it happened. Miguel decided to make what had played such a major role in his life a business, in hopes that it would also reach the lives of others. At just 23 years old, Miguel is a young entrepreneur, becoming CEO of his own company—Maven Therapy.
“Maven Therapy is a medical device company I started in 2018 with my father (Miguel Velert, Vice President and head manufacturer of Maven Therapy) and our longtime friend and business partner Christopher Braddock (Maven Therapy, CFO),” Miguel says. “We are designing an exercise machine for people who have limited mobility disabilities or conditions that make conventional range of motion exercises difficult.”
The company name came from the combination of three things. Miguel’s initials are “MAV,” which initially got his brain creating ideas. A friend of his father then suggested Maven, due to Miguel’s initials and the definition of Maven—a person who is an expert at something. However, the deciding factor was, well, as Miguel says, “It just sounds cool.”
Miguel admits that being a young entrepreneur isn’t easy. There was a lot of planning and realistic issues to consider, like funding.
“Starting Maven was a slow process. Not only were we still working full time jobs and going to school, but we also did not have adequate funding to start a new business,” Miguel explains. “We became an official LLC in the state of South Carolina April of 2018. In the fall of 2018, we became a client company of the South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA). With them, we were able to secure initial funding for an office and workspace to develop new prototypes and begin talks with various rehab hospitals to try out our device.”
Miguel and his partners never stopped believing in the project. Even with his focus on being a full-time student, this young entrepreneur never doubted the success that Maven Therapy could be. Though there are still major plans for growth with the company, the past 18 months has offered a lot for Maven.
“Maven has grown from a side project in a shed in our backyard, to a job with a workspace and strategic partners and investors. We have worked on Maven for about four years and in the year since we officially started, we have grown more than the previous three years combined. We have a notice of allowance on our patent application, and we are in the middle of testing our device. We aren’t done yet, but this year has seen a lot of growth for Maven Therapy,” Miguel says.
As college students, it can be easy to overlook the potential and possibility of creating a start-up, and succeeding with it at such a young age. Miguel, however, consistently allowed the passion provoking inside of him push through.
“The biggest challenge with being a young entrepreneur, any entrepreneur really, is that there is no manual to being one,” Miguel says. “There isn’t a class you can take that teaches you to be an entrepreneur. It’s a big learning experience. You need to be dedicated to working on something you’re passionate about even if the rewards aren’t immediately seen.”
But it’s the reason behind this company that means the most to Miguel. He didn’t choose to create Maven for himself, he chose to create it for those surrounding him. “We started Maven Therapy on the premise of enriching the lives of people who have injuries or conditions that limit their mobility. We believe movement is critical to a patient’s recovery and health; it’s in our mission statement. We designed a device that is easy to use, not only for a patient but also for therapists and caregivers,” Miguel explains.
The future for this company seems bright. With goals of seeing his device used in clinics, facilities and homes across the United States, Miguel continues to dream for his company and for the creation of practical exercise equipment to impact those going through what he has been through.
More importantly, Miguel dreams for those who will use this machine. He knows its impacts, and he hope that new users will have the opportunity to discover them.
“As a business owner, I believe you need to have an innate desire to make a difference and impact in your community and people in that community. I want to help people, but more than that, I want to show people who are in the situation I was once in, that it is possible to recover and be independent again.”
For more information on Maven Therapy, visit maventherapysc.com.