Over a pandemic that has seen personal protective equipment thrust into the public eye, one Philly founder wants to ensure that personal protective equipment has detrimental less environmental impact.
University of Pennsylvania Ph.D. scientist-turned-entrepreneur Beau Wangtrakuldee’s AmorSui has created PPE that works with technology to be more sustainable than PPE commonly found in healthcare spaces. In launching what Wangtrakuldee says is the first reusable medical gown with a management app that tracks the number of washes of each garment, she has created a solution in mitigating the thousands of tons of waste that comes from pandemic-time, often single-use PPE.
Wangtrakuldee believes that tech-enabled PPE is a simple, effective way to meet FDA conservation strategies at a time in which PPE is less accessible due to COVID-19 demand. The three-year-old AmorSui began pivoting toward sustainable options for PPE and healthcare solutions over the last year in response to emergency situations.
AmorSui has three tiers of clients. The first consists of clients who buy the gowns directly and download the corresponding app. The second consists of hospitals that buy the gowns in bulk from AmorSui, and AmorSui then works with partners that will do laundry service for the hospitals. The third will use a full-service system through which they can order gowns, have them delivered and get them replaced as needed. This third tier will launch later this month.
Growing a company during a pandemic is a matter of using limited resources in unique ways to achieve results, Wangtrakuldee said. Participating in Techstars’ accelerator from November 2020 through this February provided her and her team with access to mentors, coaches, marketing and branding.
“I think with any company during the pandemic, especially a startup, you have to deal with competing priorities with strapped resources,” she said. “We had a really big pivot. Something we really do well as a team is have priorities and work on deadline.”
After completing their work in the accelerator, AmorSui is now fundraising and will increase its efforts in May.
With relationships with American textile companies already in place from AmorSui’s beginnings as a clothing company, all of AmorSui’s products are currently made in the U.S., which Wangtrakuldee said leads to better quality products than many products made overseas. AmorSui’s mobile app can monitor when gowns get cleaned and record them as being clean so their use is not exceeded.
Wangtrakuldee said that the key goal for AmorSui is to ease the process hospitals use to order PPE. By using a system that tracks data and analytics, hospitals can better understand the return of investment on the PPE they purchase, as well as how much or how little they should order.
The next goal for Wangtrakuldee is to begin producing surgical masks, booties and other hospital accessories. As AmorSui’s system is further developed, the mobile app may even be licensed in the future to various healthcare entities.
“We see it as an opportunity to prove the concept first,” she said. “The data around PPE would be important for any medical providers — even just the gown itself. Right now we’re currently working on surgical gowns, which are hard to optimize, but when we do, the market will open up tremendously.”
Michael Butler is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.