It is two days before the Super Bowl, and Dan Evans ‘11 is completing a final run-through of his “game plan.” While he won’t actually be taking the field at U.S. Bank Stadium, he will be competing in Minneapolis. Evans is one of the co-founders of RecoverX, which was established to revolutionize injury recovery. He is a contender in the NFL’s 1st and Future pitch competition.
Evans came to Calvin after looking online for a Christian college that had a strong engineering program where he could play soccer. For Evans, Calvin was the right place. He says “the education is amazing and on par with Duke,” where he obtained his master’s in biomedical engineering after receiving his engineering degree at Calvin.
“Calvin always taught me to find your vocation, find your calling,” he said. “I thought my calling was to create devices to help people.” Calvin helped him see how he could live out that calling and prepared him to do so. He started working for a medical device company, Stryker, in San Jose, California, and then moved to Intuitive Surgical, where he worked on the da Vinci Robot, a medical device that allows surgeons to perform robot-assisted surgery. During that time, he was introduced to his future business partner, Alex Aguiar, at church.
Aguiar, a former soccer player, had been injured in college. When his trainer tossed him an ice bag, he wondered how has there not been any improvement with ice bags? Evans and Aguair started talking about how they could innovate ice bags and injury recovery through technology. Evans had the technical expertise to make it happen.
Together, they formed RecoverX and began working on a device that uses electronics to either cool or heat an injured knee to speed recovery. Using a phone app, users can set the temperature of the knee brace to the desired temperature, and it will maintain that temperature for the duration of the treatment.
While electronic technology (such as heating pads) for healing an injured area has been around for years, there has been very little innovation when it comes to cooling an affected area. Using ice packs can be messy and too cold for optimal healing. Some injuries require alternating between heating and cooling; the RecoverX device can do both.
To get their business off the ground, Evans and Aguiar had to find investors willing to grasp their vision and financially back their idea. Through hard work, persistence, and after pitching to hundreds of potential investors, RecoverX has been able to raise over $2 million in startup funding. Their innovative solution has inspired three NFL stars—Kelvin Beachum, Curtis Martin, Ndamukong Suh— and former NBA commissioner David Stern to become advisers and investors.
Their product has been tested on more than 200 individuals and used with 15 physical therapists. Ninety-three percent of the trial participants opted to continue using the RecoverX device instead of returning to their old method. Professional sports organizations such as the Los Angeles Rams, the San Francisco 49ers, and the 2018 Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles have already tested the product and provided feedback to the entrepreneurs.
The sports connection is what led them to enter the NFL’s 1st and Future pitch competition at the Super Bowl. They, along with eight other companies, made their pitch to be one of three companies to win $50,000 in startup funding. The NFL’s goal is to spur innovation and increase safety and recovery for athletes. The judges liked what they saw from RecoverX and awarded them the prize money and tickets to attend the Super Bowl.
“When they announced our name, it was surreal,” said Evans. “Our company put in a tremendous amount of work to get the product and pitch to that point, and we traveled all the way to Minneapolis just for the chance to pitch our company.”
A Massachusetts native, Evans has always been a New England fan, so seeing them play in the Super Bowl was a dream come true. Though the Patriots lost, the victory went to a team who is helping Evans pilot the product he hopes will soon lead to faster recovery for people around the world.