As a music performance major, students often face the question: What are you going to do with that? Looking back, Stella Markova’s answer might be unexpected. The University of Utah student has dedicated the last year to creating a homecare product with help from the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute SitUP.
Markova’s husband first came up with idea of an inflatable bed pad while caring for his father. The couple, the Markova’s, saw a need for an easy to use and affordable device to help caretakers do their job better after some research revealed limited options. SitUP will be a bed addition which inflates via an electronic remote. Basically, it is a wedge pillow, but unlike most wedge pillows it inflates. It sits under the patient’s back on the bed, flattened, and the remote inflates the wedge lifting the patient to a 45-degree angle. This would give the patient control over when they want to sit or lie down and prevent the caretaker from injuring themselves trying to lift their patient.
“It’s a cross between an adjustable bed and a wedge pillow” Markova explained. “Increasing healthcare costs drive the need for less costly home health care as well as affordable homecare products. Home health care needs it because they need affordable options to help them help others.” Markova started by talking to home health care providers and was overwhelmed by the response. “Everyone we talked to was like ‘you have to do this, you have to make it, this will help a lot of people,’” and she has been working on it ever since.
Last year Markova took sit up to compete in the U’s Bench to Bedside competition. This competition focuses on innovation in the field of health specifically. Markova’s team was one of the top teams and finished fourth in the competition’s business category. She has also received a Get Seeded grant and is a participant in the Company Launch program at the Lassonde Institute all with the purpose of creating SitUP.
Through her experience with Bench to Bedside, Markova already has a provisional patent in place and she is hoping to complete an initial prototype in the remainder of 2018, but to Markova the focus is on her product. Markova set out to “solve a problem” she said. She wants SitUP to be “an easy money decision” which helps people in need. This passion has become a central part of her life and everyday goals and even though her degree is in piano performance she has loved exploring her business mind and working to make a difference.
“I’ve learned a lot, and I have a lot to learn,” Markova said. She plans to see this through to the end and finds support and passion for her product at every turn. In the future SitUP will be available through distributors and to the mass market on sites such as Amazon. For caretakers everywhere, help is on the way.