2006 - 2015: Background
Prior to coming to the Pears Challenge Tamar studied Industrial Design at Holon Institute of Technology (HIT), B. Design. During her studies, she designed a splint for people with disabilities.
Tamar established "Cassit Studio'' and recruited an occupational therapist and a materials engineer. Together they started designing and producing tailor-made solutions for people with disabilities. They tested and mixed many materials until they found a unique thermoplastic transparent material that allowed easier fit and greater durability.
In the meantime, Tamar took courses in management, marketing and entrepreneurship.
After 5 years of activity Tamar developed two lines of products - eating and cooking utensils and medical hand splints.
At a time when just a few design studios chose to specialize in assistive technology design, Cassit team realized that casts and splints had not evolved for decades, and there was huge business potential and social impact for improved products.
Tamar applied to the Pears Challenge II to open her horizons to emerging markets. The program provided her with a lot of information about the developing world and its challenges.
Tamar learned that her splints for people with disabilities were extremely relevant for Kenya, which was within the scope of the Pears Challenge that year.
The number of people with disabilities in developing countries is 3 times higher than in developed countries for various reasons, including high rates of road and work accidents. Approximately 40% of the population living in developing countries never receive treatment, which means a simple fracture can potentially result in a permanent disability. Even for individuals resilient up to this point, exclusion of people with disabilities from employment and education lead them to a life of poverty. In this respect, Kenya proved itself no different with a high rate of people with disabilities.
Prior to joining the Pears Challenge, Tamar was taught that she shouldn’t aspire to address challenges in developing countries without living there. Through the Pears Challenge, Tamar understood that she could successfully target developing markets, and that she could use her innovations to improve the lives of people with disabilities with the right partnerships and business models.
As part of the Pears Challenge, Tamar traveled to Kenya, taking splint samples with her. In Kenya, Tamar learned that there was huge potential demand for her products. She utilized this trip to build relationships with potential partners. The Pears Program team also helped her to build her first business plan.
December 2015: First Funding
The Pears Program team supported Tamar in her successful application for funding to the Israeli Innovation Authority’s Grand Challenges fund. Tamar received 500,000 NIS in proof of concept funding.
2016 - 2017: Product Development
Tamar founded Cassit Ltd. and adapted her splints to the rural settings in Kenya. She designed them to be easily fit in approximately 5 minutes, usable without electricity/ special equipment, accessible to all, affordable, and durable. She added more splint types for children and finger splints and started creating a production line in order to build a high-quality cost-effective product that could be mass-produced and marketed.
Following 12 months of development, Tamar traveled to Kenya again with a line of products.
Kenya proved itself as a good market for initial exploration, specifically due to the large amount of occupational therapists and its English-speaking nature. During her 8-day trip, she received orders for 10K splints and 45 letters of intent. She spent most of her trip in hospitals and clinics, visits which were organized with the help of a local senior occupational therapist.
Between 2016-2017 Tamar piloted her splints in Kenya, testing them with therapists and doctors, and conducting 35 sessions to train over 300 medical professionals within 5 large cities across the country.
Tamar also conducted in-depth market research with MBA students from Georgetown University, identifying 72 additional potential markets. This number was later reduced to 40 (including 8 in Africa, 13 in Europe). She filed a patent and kept establishing the production line.
Tamar recruited a business partner – an experienced entrepreneur and a businessman with a proven track record named Zion Halfon, who invested in Cassit and became a partner. Zion himself is an amputee who volunteers to assist people with disabilities.
Tamar traveled to Nashville and Chicago to investigate the US market.
November 2018: Global Exposure & Recognition
Zion and Tamar traveled to present at the largest medical device exhibitions in Israel and Europe, where they created international exposure and received amazing feedback.
In December 2018, Tamar presented Cassit's solution at the AIPAC conference in NYC.
January 2019: Entering the Emergency Treatment Field
Cassit continues growing, as they begin to approach bone fractures, establish a Medical Board with orthopedic and Neurosurgeons, and start exploring the emergency treatment market.
March 2019: Business & Marketing
After Cassit Splints participated in Medical exhibitions in Europe and Israel, Tamar presented and won the 1st place innovation prize in the AIPAC global annual conference in Washington, USA.
After this, they start engaging with players in the US and hold a meeting with the IFC in Washington.
April 2019: Seed Funding
The company continued working on building its brand and shaping its marketing and business material. They built a quality system, earned a licensed as a medical device manufacturer, and obtained ISO-13485 and a CE certificate.
In 2019, Cassit raised $1M from Israeli angel investors.
September 2019: Doing good
Cassit holds an event for children with disabilities, in which they donated splints to 25 children of low income families in rural Kenya.
They also present at "Medic East Africa" Expo, led more training sessions, and came to understand that therapists in developing countries need more time for training.
February 2020: Production Line
Cassit fully established its production line in Israel and holds many trainings country-wide. Tamar and Zion travel to the UK and the US to meet potential partners.
June 2020: Medical Certificates
During Covid-19 quarantine, they started working with Israeli home-care therapists to provide customized splints to people within their homes. In addition to their CE mark, they finalized FDA registration (USA), and gained AMAR (Israeli) approval.
Cassit began developing a smart splint with a sensor system to monitor the rehabilitation processes, collect and analyze big data.
February - April 2021: Sales
In February, Cassit started selling their products in Israel to public hospitals and orthopedic clinics.
In April, Cassit recruited a marketing and sales manager and started providing its simple splints directly to the largest and most recognized Israeli hospitals.
They raised from current and new investors another US$600K, which has resulted in a total fundraising amount for the company of US$2 million so far.
August 2021: Doing good while doing well
Cassit started working with distributors in Italy and with US hospitals for market entry. They received Kenya’s regulatory approval for providing medical equipment and started sales in Kenya.
They joined forces with an Israeli occupational therapist to launch a humanitarian project for people with disabilities in India. The project’s results demonstrated a significant improvement in function thanks to using Cassit’s splints.
March 2022: Scaling up
Cassit currently supplies its products in a number of hospitals in Israel, including a number of departments at Sheba Hospital, which is ranked 10th in the world.
Following six months of sales in Israel, and at the end of a process that lasted about two years, Cassit received an SKU from Clalit Health HMO, which is the second largest HMO in the world and is responsible for adjusting most of the splints in Israel today.
Cassit has recently opened a new funding round for the purpose of penetrating the US market and expanding their activities in Kenya.