Necessity is the mother of invention says the popular proverb. When college athlete, Richard Wesley Gensch, severely injured his elbow, he knew applying cold and compression were the most effective therapies for recovery.
Icing reduces pain and inflammation of tissue, while compression increases healing blood flow to the injured area.
But icing required focused time throughout each day and did not include compression. So Gensch combined his sports management and business majors at Grace College to invent a way to deliver both therapies at the same time without interfering with his schedule. Richard Wesley Gensch
Today, Gensch’s mobile icing and compression products for his company CoolCorp Inc. bring healing to athletic injury trauma and post-operative patients in northeast Indiana and beyond.
Based in Kosciusko County, home to the Orthopedic Capital of the World®, CoolCorp’s cutting-edge designs include built-in safety features, and personalized air compression for a 360-degree cryotherapy application to the impaired area.
Input Fort Wayne sat down with Gensch to learn more about the invention of his innovative cryotherapy compression devices and how they are gaining popularity with physicians and patients alike.
IFW: You were a student at Grace College when you came up with the idea for CoolCorp. Tell us more about your background.
WG: I grew up in the Pierceton/Warsaw area and ended up playing baseball at Grace College. Grace College offers a three-year undergraduate program or a four-year dual undergrad and master’s program. Since I was eligible to play collegiate baseball for four years, I decided to try the dual four-year program as an athlete. I double majored in business and sport management, and then received my Master’s in Business Administration, as well.
My junior year of college, in Spring of 2015, I suffered a severe elbow injury (subluxation of the ulnar nerve). To avoid surgery and continue to play at a high level, I had to ice five to six times a day to stay competitive. The truth was, this ended any chance I had of playing baseball at a higher level.
My identity up to this point had been wrapped up in being a baseball player. Now that was taken away, and I wasn’t sure what was next. My faith in Jesus really allowed me to see a light at the end of the tunnel and gave my injury a purpose. Now, I had the opportunity to focus on helping other people and providing them with a product that could help their recovery.
IFW: What was the catalyst that got you thinking that you could improve on the traditional methods of icing injuries and recoveries?
WG: The traditional method of using a bag of ice didn’t give me the compression I needed. The process was a nuisance due to the leaky ice bag. It made it hard for me to keep up with my daily schedule of going to class and hanging out with friends.
I tried a couple of products on the market, but nothing seemed to fulfill the desired need of compression and icing from a mobile perspective. So, I went out and acquired some materials to build my own prototype, which I used during the season after games and practices.
During my senior year in 2016, I suffered a shoulder injury due to the increased workload from the lack of a healthy elbow. One of my teammates at the time, suffered a deep bone contusion from getting hit by a line drive. A physician told him he would most likely be out of action for six weeks. My teammate asked to use my product and iced as often as he could. Just three weeks later, he was back and pitching in game!
My brother also suffered a major knee tear (ACL MCL and meniscus) and asked if I could build a product for him from a post-surgical perspective. He showed great signs of improvement and still uses his product today.
CoolCorp Inc. creates projects to ease the icing process and add pressure.
IFW: How did you move from idea to entrepreneur?
WG: Grace College hosted their annual business plan competition in 2016. I thought, as a senior majoring in business and having a successful and useful product, I had a good chance at winning.
Being fortunate enough to win the competition, I used the prize money to start the patent process and file for incorporation. With a growing number of teammates and people becoming familiar with my prototype and asking for products, this quickly began to shift into how I could manufacturer these products and take them to market.
IFW: What are the unique characteristics of your products?
WG: The biggest reason people ask for the CoolCorp product is because it actually works, isn’t expensive, and is convenient. People can use this to aid their recovery process while still participating in their regular routines.
I created a product out of personal need and feel—not out of lab with a bunch of ideas on how to make it comfortable. Our devices use personalized air compression that allow each customer to decide how much pressure they want to apply. Additionally, our products have 360-degree coverage that gives the entire area the help that it needs. And lastly, our products allow us to ice for optimum recovery, without having to give up the daily schedule.
With this design, I can ice in the car, while I’m walking, or while I’m at work. Our design makes it to where there are no tubes attached (pun intended).
IFW: How has the medical field received the CoolCorp products so far? What do your clients like best about CoolCorp?
WG: So far, everyone we’ve talked to in the medical field thinks our products are a great idea and would solve an important need. We really focus on how CoolCorp’s products can provide better outcomes and increased convenience—all at a lower cost.
I’m working with several physical therapy offices and hospital systems to see how CoolCorp’s products can be better implemented into their care. A few local health systems currently use our products and are happy with their experience. Physicians are starting see benefits as patients are icing more often and rate our products 9.7 out of 10 stars on customer reviews.
IFW: As an inventor, what was the research and development like process for you?
WG: Starting out with research and development, we came up with a sleeve and wrap version of our product that we used in our Beta Test, featuring many Grace College athletes. We then collected our data and made a couple manufacturing changes in our processes that allowed us to give our customers the best experience possible.
We’ve continued innovating our products while keeping our customer experience level at the forefront. I worked with Dr. Jeffrey Hartzell from Parkview Hospital on developing a shoulder model that would cover all major surgeries in that area. His expertise in the R&D process made our shoulder model the success that it is.
IFW: What advice would you give others who want to bring their ideas to market?
WG: I’ve had the pleasure to work with so many great organizations and people who focus on helping entrepreneurs bring their ideas to reality. SCORE, the Fortitude Fund, KEDCo, AcceLINX, and Hentz Manufacturing all have been a huge part to CoolCorp’s success.
I would encourage anyone who has an idea that could lead to a business to reach out to some of these organizations. They are great people and have great resources that can help.
IFW: How has developing a business impacted you personally?
WG: I’ve often heard people say developing and running a business makes you lose a lot of sleep and sacrifice a lot of your time. Both of these are true, but my experience is that you get out exactly what you put in.
All your time and effort reflect on you and goes towards helping people and providing them with better goods or service. Personally, I have really grown in my relationship with Christ and CoolCorp has helped me realize the purpose God has for my life.
IFW: The Warsaw area around Grace College is known as the Orthopedic Capital of the World®. What are the benefits and challenges of innovating for the ortho industry?
WG: There are many challenges when innovating in the orthopedic industry. There are so many regulations and guidelines that have to be followed that it makes implementing a new product or idea take a lot of time and effort. Fortunately, in CoolCorp’s case, there is a lot of clinical data that supports cryo-compression and correlates with our product, allowing us to move forward in several areas.
Another challenge comes from the financial side of orthopedics. When I started out with some winnings from the business plan competition, I had a friend from the orthopedic industry tell me, “Hold tight. That kind of money gets dropped here every day.”
I think some of the greatest benefits of the orthopedic industry are the connections that are developed among the people and corporations. Even though these companies are extremely competitive, the relationships people have carry on outside of work and allow connections to be made if you can know the right people.
IFW: Are there advantages to being headquartered in Kosciusko County?
WG: Kosciusko County has been a great place to start a business. KEDCo has been phenomenal as far as reaching out and connecting with CoolCorp. The people around the area are awesome and, more often than not, are willing to help you get connected with whoever they can reach out to.
There is obviously a lot of upside being in the Orthopedic Capital of the World®, and not being far from Fort Wayne helps a lot, too.
IFW: What are your plans for CoolCorp’s future?
WG: There’s so much innovation happening at CoolCorp Inc. My goal is to have specific product designs launched for every major type of orthopedic surgery.
We are currently working on a Back/Spine model along with a specific ankle model to follow. I would love to see CoolCorp products being used for athletic recovery on TV someday.
Having a multimillion-dollar athlete using a regular bag of ice and an ACE wrap after an injury makes me shake my head every time.
IFW: When you are not working at CoolCorp, what do you do to rest and refresh?
WG: My faith, prayer life, and personal devotions keep me recharged and ready to face new challenges life might bring forward. I still love to play baseball when I can and always enjoy spending time with friends and family. There is a purpose to all the work CoolCorp is doing. Hearing stories of people recovering faster from injuries gives me the push to keep going.
IFW: If someone wants to check out CoolCorp’s products, where can they find additional information?
WG: For more information about CoolCorp and to order CoolCorp products, visit our website at coolcorpinc.com. There you’ll find pictures of our products, and news about health, wellness, and recovery.
You can also find CoolCorp Inc. on: