Workplace injuries, especially among frontline workers, can bring operations to a halt.
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A wearable device and software package being developed by New York-based Kinetic is providing workers with reminders and notifications for when the device is sensing a high-risk motion that could potentially cause an injury if it is repeatedly made, Haytham Elhawary, co-founder and CEO, told Crunchbase News.
“Injuries happen on the job because of bending, twisting and other physical labor, and over time, a person gets injured,” Elhawary said. “Our wearable detects high-risk motion–it vibrates and gives you goals, as well as encourages competition across colleagues and helps improve the way they move.”
The company on Tuesday announced an $11.25 million Series A funding round led by existing investor Crosslink Capital. The firm was joined in the round by existing investors Primary Ventures and Nationwide, as well as new investors Prologis Ventures and Ubiquity Ventures. The company has raised approximately $17 million since it was founded in 2014, including a $4.5 million seed round in 2018, according to Crunchbase data.
“Kinetic has tapped into one of the biggest focus areas for the logistics industry today: creating a safe and productive environment for the industrial workforce,” said William O’Donnell, managing partner at Prologis Ventures, in a written statement. “We are thrilled to invest in Kinetic as the company enters its next phase of growth.”
Kinetic is now developing the second generation of its Reflex device and software with the aim of improving safety and reducing work injuries within environments such as construction, warehouses and factories. This year, the company expanded its offering to include COVID-19 exposure, adding software to detect close contact.
Revenue grew four times this year, and the company sold more wearables than in the previous five years. Elhawary attributes the increased sales to a renewed focus on health and frontline workers, many of whom were labeled as “essential” during COVID.
Following its 2018 seed round, the company acquired its first two customers, was manufacturing its wearable in small volumes, and was pretty much handling the customer service on its own with him and a few others manning the phones, Elhawary said.
“Now we have 30 people, 50 percent engineering and 50 percent sales, marketing and customer success,” he said. “We have increased manufacturing and our customer base. With the seed, we had proven this was something customers wanted, and now we have proven we can reduce injuries by 58 percent.”
Elhawary considers the company operating within the industrial Internet of Things market, which is aimed at making devices that augment the workforce in a safer way. The global market is estimated to be valued at $82.4 billion and is anticipated to grow 21 percent between now and 2028, according to Quince Market Insights.
There are some 90 million workers within this industry, Elhawary estimates, with nearly 50 percent of those in the United States.
“Injury rates here are high as are the costs of injury,” he said. “A back injury can cost $40,000 to $50,000.”
Kinetic intends to use a big chunk of the new investment on manufacturing, which is experiencing a “big spike” driven by COVID, Elhawary said. The company also plans on significantly increasing its hiring next year.
In addition, the company will continue to grow its sales and product development, including capabilities in contact tracing, proximity alerts and data science. Metrics so far have led to an 88 percent reduction in lost work days due to injuries, as well as a 5 percent increase in productivity, especially in logistics, where workers are encouraged to use better body mechanics.
“Data has been the most interesting so far,” he said. “When workers put the device on, it is providing data that managers have never seen before, such as seeing a big spike in contact at the beginning of a shift, so they can rethink that, as well as see what times of the day workers’ posture is at risk for injuries.”
Illustration: Dom Guzman
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