Erica Cole lost part of her left leg after a terrible accident during which her vehicle was T-boned. She thought she was going to die, but she didn’t. Instead, she turned the tragedy into an inspiring story by creating her own company to help America’s two million amputees try to live more normally.
“That’s what happened, but we’re going to keep moving forward,” Cole said to herself.
She acknowledged the first time she cried after the car accident was when she received a prosthetic, the design and aesthetics of which she had little control over. Whereas most people may have turned to a personal injury lawyer to recover damages, she decided to leave the past behind her and look ahead instead. Because she disliked the looks of her prosthetic so much, she opted to design a 3D-printed cover to change its appearance.
Cole says that she was recently approached by a woman who complimented the cover while she was out shopping. It turns out the woman had no idea that Cole was wearing a prosthetic at all. She thought Cole was making a fashion statement. Cole says the encounter made her feel better about what she was doing and inspired her to keep at it.
The University of Iowa’s John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Program helped Cole start her own company, so aptly named “No Limits” in order to make 3D-printed covers for others who might be feeling down because of their losses. The interest has been surprising. Cole won $14,000 to start creating additional prototype prosthetic covers, and she wants to make the product as accessible as possible to as many amputees as she can.
Although they are currently a little pricey at around $600 to $800, she wants to see the price point fall to around $150 to $200. Customers can send in pictures of their prosthetics along with technical specifications, and then customize and choose the designs they want. Then the new company will work with the client to create a cover using 3D printing.
Cole says the hardest part about losing a limb can be letting people you meet know what happened, and she wants to make the obstacle a little easier to overcome. In fact, she wants amputees to be proud to show off their prosthetic devices. Currently, Cole has developed a Kickstarter campaign in order to make her new startup a little easier.