The Midwest is a sleeping giant, but these 4 startups didn’t get the memo

By August 31, 2017

A recent survey which asked Americans to identify the most innovative parts of the country revealed that 72% believe the coasts are where the power is, with another 20% openly citing Silicon Valley [no surprise there]. But, as for the Midwest, they received just a mere 10% of votes, and those were probably those from the Midwest anyway.

Silicon Valley has long been thought of the innovation centre of not just the US, but the whole world. With tech giants, like Facebook, Google, and Uber based there, the notion is understandable.

To be fair to them, they wouldn’t be too wrong in believing the coasts is where the powers lies, after all, 50% of all venture capital is found in the Bay Area and New York.

But, all of that could change. Despite what the rest of the US might think, there are a lot of Midwestern cities with thriving tech and startup hubs, and these are spread all over the region, from Chicago to Cleveland, from Omaha to Detroit.

Here are some of the most promising startups emerging from the Midwest, and into national recognition.

ExplORer Surgical

While it may seem like a typo, ExplORer aims to improve human medical surgery, hence the capital OR, standing for Operation Room.

ExplORer Surgical, from Chicago, strive to make surgery safer by using an interactive surgery playbook that reduces disruptions and wasted disposals by improving surgical team communication. Surgical teams can use the software to coordinate their activities in real time whilst managing their tools and supplies in a way that just hasn’t been possible before.

The result is optimal teamwork, increased efficiency, higher performance and most importantly, saved lives.

Recently, ExplORer Surgical has raised $3 million, bringing their total funding to more than $4.5 million since its inception in 2015 and they plan on using it wisely, so watch this space.

Family Tech

‘Bringing Sanity to Family’ is the motto for Family Tech, which formed in 2011 in Cincinnati, OH. It believes in traditional family values – something lacking now in the days of kids holing themselves up in their rooms to watch Netflix, or checking their phones every 2 minutes at the dinner table. [Don’t people have these complaints about every generation, though?]

Anyway, family tech believes that strong families create strong communities. Instead of allowing technology to tear these families apart, instead it wants to use it to connect and inspire them.

Over a number of platforms – MotherShp (for parents), Landra (for teens), ChoreMonster (for kids), and HoneyDo (for couples) – Family Tech features a checklist of tasks and chores to be completed in return for rewards. Each task is worth a different amount of points and when your child or partner has earned enough points, they can claim a reward.

These rewards include the likes of movie time, chances to treat yourself, or just have some good old me time.


North Dakota was recently ranked as the best state for startup success in the whole of the US, and Fargo-based Protosthetics make a good case of it.

The startup focuses on 3D printed prosthetics. However its prosthetics go a bit further than other 3D printing startups doing similar things. One of these extra-mile accomplishments is the introduction of a completely waterproof prosthetic christened the amphibian.

Normally, amputees need to remove their prosthetic for things like showering or swimming, due to the non-waterproof nature of the materials used. But Protosthetics technology has designed its product in such a way that customers will no longer have to worry about that, and be free to frolic in streams, or actually stand in the shower.

The way it works is what the startup calls Additive Advantage, wherein the patient is scanned, followed by the printing of the desired limb – leg, arm, foot, whatever – before being fitted to the patient. Protosthetics use a range of robust, high-quality materials to give its customers the best quality of life possible.

Dotcom Therapy

Founded in 2015 by Emily Purdom and Rachel Robinson, DotCom Therapy began in Springfield, MO, but has since moved to Madison, WI. It uses video conferencing to connect with patients across parts of the US and also as far as China and Thailand. In the fall, it is starting a pilot programme in Tanzania.

It recently won first place at the Pressure Chamber Pitch contest, the prize being an all-expenses-paid trip to San Francisco where they can show off their product to investors and hopefully gain more funds to further build their business.

DotCom Therapy’s service has allowed children all over the country to access the kind of

treatment that they normally would not have the opportunity to use. Speech-related problems affect nearly 1 in 12 in the US, but despite the supposed demand for speech pathologists across schools nationwide, institutions are still finding themselves without qualified individuals, or even if they do have qualified therapists, they are overworked and under supported.

In the future, the team are hoping to add Occupational Therapy and Audiology to their portfolio.

And these startups are just some of what we can expect to see emerging from the Midwest in the coming years. The region’s potential is so promising, it is predicted to have more startups than Silicon Valley. But hopefully, the rest of America will wake up before that prediction becomes a reality, and give the Midwest the props it deserves regarding its innovation.

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