MJN Neuroserveis is developing portable devices or wearables to improve safety and self-sufficiency for people with epilepsy. The company was started in 2012 as the result of a conversation among its three founders: Salva Gutiérrez, David Blánquez and Xavier Raurich. “David told us about his daughter, who has epilepsy and is also pharmacoresistant, like 30% of those with this condition,” remembers Gutiérrez. “We didn’t know much about epilepsy then or what a bane it can be.” David Blánquez, as an engineer, had some ideas for improving his daughter’s quality of life and that’s how the idea came about to found their own company.
“MJN was started to prevent the accidents that can be caused by a seizure,” Gutiérrez sums up. Now, with a team of six and after a successful round of funding through which the company raised €750,000, 2018 is shaping up to be a decisive year, with a clinical trial and the launch of their non-intrusive device to predict and warn of coming epileptic seizures.
I’ve been working for a number of years as an entrepreneur in a totally different world. MJN, though, isn’t a university start-up. It came out of a group of friends. We met through the parents’ association at our kids’ school. One day, I went for coffee with the now CEO-CTO, David Blánquez, and another engineer friend of his, Xavier Raurich, and we all got fired up about this highly personal project.
Our first big decision was that we wanted to create a company with resources to go towards R&D. Plus, we’ve never said no to any invitation. We haven’t let any opportunity get away from us to participate in calls for proposals or tenders anywhere in the world. We’re always moving, even when we were still very green. You never know when a great collaboration or strategic partner may come along. We haven’t been afraid of asking questions and learning. We’ve always taken the constructive part of the criticism we’ve received to help push us towards our goal. This is also why you have to find the right allies when you need them: for example, in terms of intellectual property it is very important to find professionals that understand your project and can help you come up with the best strategy for your invention.
If you have an idea you believe in, don’t let it get away. You always have to listen and learn from everyone, but the core idea has to move forward. Taking these contributions onboard has to add to the project. They may make you pivot to improve the idea, but they can’t make you lose heart.
Epilepsy means “surprise attack”. For a long time, the medical community believed that, by definition, these seizures couldn’t be predicted outside of a hospital, where they are currently monitored with a video-electroencephalogram. We’re trying to prove that it is possible, and, better yet, with a portable device. In the beginning, no one believed us. But then we saw that it was generating interest among patients’ associations and the medical community.
A few months ago, we closed an important round of funding with the help of our top investor, Ship2B, and a crowdequity campaign with Capital Cell, despite today’s complicated political situation. We were looking for ambassadors for our technology, who are now MJN shareholders. This, along with winning the D-LAB award from the Mobile World Capital Foundation, has made it possible for our next milestone to be completing the clinical trial we’re working on in collaboration with Corachan clinic, with participation from the University of Girona, MAT Salut and GSMA. Plus, we’re working to get CE marking.
Our goal is to launch a pre-sales plan before the summer to test the device in real conditions with approximately one hundred people. We want to make it to market by the second half of this year.
Also, we want to keep working with patients’ associations and have a project in schools to raise awareness of epilepsy among the general public.