Tell us about yourself?
My name is Marcel Maroist. I have always been passionate about physical activity, sports, and health in general. I have been practicing martial arts since the age of 12 years old.
I am now an 8th degree black belt Taekwondo Grand Master. As a world-class athlete, I was a member of the Canadian team from 1983 to 1989 and have distinguished myself at each of my participations in a dozen international competitions.
I won 8 gold, 6 silver, and 3 bronze medals in international competitions and world championships, both individual and team titles.
I opened my first martial arts school at the age of 22, and since then, I have opened more than 15 schools. I also trained the Sûreté du Québec’s Tactical Intervention Team (SWAT) for a decade, teaching them how to subdue and control criminals in crisis situations.
It was martial arts that led me to produce and host more than 210 television shows and 6 workout DVDs between 1987 and 2003. I studied Physical Education at Laval University in Quebec City and have been working in health research for the last 10 years.
I have more than 40 years of experience in business management and event organisation of all kinds. Since the beginning of my career, I have been at the head of several companies in the health and sports sectors.
I have owned a paramedical clinic in the Quebec City area and managed a sports medicine centre on the North Shore of Montreal.
It was a coincidence that in the winter of 2010, I met a group of university researchers that allowed me to realize a dream: to work in research on health and sport.
This team of researchers from the Department of Kinesiology at UQAM presented me with a revolutionary and patented technology, allowing targeted fat loss through exercise.
This meeting led me to sign a commercialization license for the entire world. After signing the license, to prove the effectiveness of the technology beyond any doubt, I led and funded 3 additional clinical studies; the results were conclusive.
Eager to influence our contemporary lifestyles, I wanted to create a company focused on health and physical activity by offering a range of innovative, patented and scientifically proven products and services.
From this desire, the company Kat Innovation was born. One of my greatest qualities is knowing how to surround myself.
To achieve my vision of innovation and my goal of going further in research, I have surrounded myself with scientific experts and doctors both in Canada and internationally.
Medical specialists from France, Spain and Tunisia are now part of my team and share with me the need to create, innovate and perhaps revolutionize the medical world.
I am currently working full time on the development and eventual commercialization of the OSTAAT™ technology.
What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?
The first single misconception is that a startup it’s all about the idea! I would add some more misconceptions like :
Startups are easy Your best supporters mentally and financillay are your friends and family Your friends and family are your best co-founders Customers will want to use your product You need to raise money right away You will have overnight success Pivoting means failing You have to have a perfect business plan right at the beginning You have to have a college degree
If you could go back in time to any moment from your journey, and give yourself one tip, what would it be?
Here’s what I would have liked to hear at the beginning of my project: as a medical device, does your technology addresses an unmet need in medicine? And do you have KOLs who will put their heads on the block for you?
What makes you stand out as an entrepreneur?
Why am I the right person for my business. First, I must say that I have been working in the field of health research for more than 10 years and that the first medical device project I worked on was the one that led me to work on this project.
The experience I gained over the years working on the first technology allows me today to better understand the ins and outs of medical device development.
This represents a lot of time saved. Another important point regarding my ability to make this project a success is the strength I have in knowing how to surround myself well.
There are more than 25 people around me, both as scientific advisors and in MedTech as people with specific skills in business administration. Moreover, all these experts, as well as employees and even interns, are not paid.
Their salaries are subsidized by government programs, so we operate a lean and organic business.
I could also conclude by saying that having spent my life in the practice of martial arts, being now a grandmaster with an 8th dan black belt in Taekwondo, I have learned to never give up, never ever give up.
Perseverance and tenacity are qualities that I think I have developed after all these years in the practice of martial arts. And, finally, I am the kind of person who sees his glass half full.
What are some of the best working habits you’ve gained over the past couple of years?
• OSTAAT : take one thing at a time, one step at a time, like the name of my product OSTAAT : One STim at A Time (Stimulation).
• Be punctual and professional.
• Respect and achieve deadlines.
• Manage money.
• Set daily big and clear goals and be organized.
• Manage time for a healthy work life balance.
• Create and protect time for myself and my love ones.
• Read regularly, exercise on a regular basis, sleep well.
• Build a powerful network.
• Take criticism well.
• Ask relevant questions.
• Communicate effectively.
• Take initiatives and learn a skill proactively.
• Look for inspiration : -Thomas Edison : I have not failed 10 000 times. I have succeeded in proving that those 10 000 ways will not work. -Winners are simply willing to do what losers won’t -Winners never quit and quitters never win.
• Learn from failure and always seek to fail.
Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?
Our technology fills an unmet need because people with severe chronic kidney disease cannot take ANY medication, being contra-indicated, so they have NO options.
Comparing to other bone growth technologies our medical device can be used on all type of bones including flat bones such as hip bones.
Our technology is a better option than medication because of the side effects of drugs but also because: -According to our KOLs, 50% of their patients are refractory to medication and 25% are consistently refusing to take it.
From 50% to 70% of people affected by osteoporosis of CKD who had undergone a hip surgery following a fracture will die within 12 months of a hip fracture.
Our technology is easy to use, can be used at home and will be offered at a price several times lower than any other bone growth technology.
In addition, the population at risk is aging and will double in the next 20 years.
Where do you see your business in five years?
Our goal is to obtain regulatory approvals in Canada, United States, Europe, and Asia over the next five years so that we can begin commercialization in these countries and achieve our revenue targets.
What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you in getting there?
One of the biggest challenges is to be able to successfully raise all the funds necessary to not slow down or compromise the evolution of the project and our game plan.
Adding doctors to our project, mainly doctors from Canada and the USA, who are willing to help and support us in our project in scientific matters.
A very big challenge is one that we have no control over, and that is the time it will take for the regulatory process in each country where we want to commercialize our technology.
Then, building a network of physicians around the world to present our technology at conventions, symposiums, and other events, to promote the benefits and efficacy of our device.
Talk to us about your biggest success story so far?
In my life, I have achieved many beautiful things. First, I am a proud father of my daughter and my grandchildren, and I am very proud of my career in Taekwondo.
I started martial arts at the age of 12 and I have never stopped practicing. I am now a grandmaster with an 8th degree black belt.
One of my greatest successes is about my career in Taekwondo, as an athlete, but also as a trainer for having had more than 35000 students in my life.
Another success was writing, producing, and hosting all those television shows in Quebec.
And I am proud of this journey because it was through sport that I had the chance to meet researchers who were working on a medical device for targeted fat loss on which I worked for 5 years and then discovered that this device had a significant effect on bone formation, especially in the hip bones.
I raised 2M$ for this first project. And I have been working on this technology for 2 years now.
I am very proud of it because not only will we be able to help people improve their quality of life, but we will also be able to save lives.
How do clients and customers find you? Are you much of a salesperson for yourself?
Our business model is B2B2C because our primary market users, who are people with osteoporosis related to CKD who have undergone hip surgery following a fracture, will be able to obtain our technology only by doctor’s prescription.
They will be given a purchase code by their doctor, allowing them to order the device online on our website.
Afterwards, they will be able to have the costs of the device reimbursed by their private insurance or the public health system.
The doctors involved will participate in conferences and congresses to present our technology to their colleagues, which will increase the network of doctors who will prescribe our technology to their patients.
I consistently set firm, specific goals and take the necessary actions to guarantee that I achieve those end results, regardless of the obstacles.
I am a self-motivated person. I love competition and have a passion for finding smart ways to outperform other companies competing in the same market.
What one tip would you give to fellow startup founders?
Be confident and work hard. Don’t count the hours. Success comes before work, only in the dictionary.
And finally, what do you hope the future brings both you personally, and your business?
I hope to be able to raise all the funds necessary to complete this project because not only will we be able to do good for people, but we will also be able to save lives.