Editor’s note: Charlotte Beat is a regular feature on Wednesdays.Arcus Medical, a Charlotte startup that makes a new type of wearable device for incontinence, is near closing on a $1 million financing.

“The transactions are in process. It’s not a public solicitation,” Mark Miskie, founder and president of Arcus, tells Local Tech Wire. “All of the money is from individual investors, most of them physicians at the Virginia Urology Group based in Richmond.”

Arcus makes a $119 kit called AFEX. The product is an adhesive-free external collection system comprised of a loose-fitting ergonomically shaped part made of soft, latex-free plastic.

A double-layered liner eliminates skin rash. A pair of boxer-style briefs holds the system in place instead of adhesive. The third part is a collection bag that allows the user to drain the contents easily. Several items in the kit must be replaced regularly. “It’s a razor and blade business model with recurring income from every sale,” Miskie says.

The patented product has had its first doctor testing, a successful 20 patient clinical trial, and was exhibited at the largest annual urology nursing conference in Chicago. Its currently being used by about 30 people, Miskie notes.

Referrals working

The nurses were particularly receptive, Miskie says. “More than 25 percent, 120 nurses, requested samples from 34 states and Canada. We had a number of referral calls from those nurses since. The nurses said it was a very clever design.”

Miskie says that plays into the company’s strategy of getting care-giver referrals, which it will further pursue by exhibiting the product at other urology medical conferences this year.

Arcus now employs four people fulltime and two part time in a 2,000-square-foot space Miskie says the company plans to expand to 5,000 square-feet by the end of summer. “We’ve already identified a second space for production less than 100 yards away,” he says.

The company makes its own products and plans “slow, steady, managed growth,” Miskie says. “A lot of startups excessive inventory and then watch it sit there for a year or two.”

No easy road

Miskie left his executive job at John Deere in 2002 to start the company because his 68-year-old father suffered from incontinence after prostrate surgery. His father didn’t care for the incontinence protection products on the market.

Knowing his son had product development experience, he told him, “I paid for your college tuition, do something about this.” Miskie took a look at the market, decided he could do something about it, and did.

The timing didn’t make raising money easy, and Miskie, 38, did consulting for three months. Eventually, he raised $145,000 primarily from friends, family, and urologists to develop the product.

“This journey has been longer, harder, and steeper than I ever imagined when I left corporate America,” says Miskie. “Anyone who thinks entrepreneurship is easy needs to think again before they do it.”

What kept him going as much as anything, Miskie says, is that his company is “a blend of capitalism and altruism. You have to have something that drives you further. We’ve had people in our test market say this has changed their life.”

He said one user who travels to China can now take 25-hour flights in relative comfort. Some people have once again started golfing.

“It’s ironic,” Miskie says. “We have a picture of a golfer on our package and it may really help people who’ve gotten out of the game to get back in.”

Old Houses Online

Copley Internet Systems has launched a site called OldHouses.com offering listing space for sellers of historic houses built before 1950, a growing photo archive, and extensive resources for old house enthusiasts.

The site includes directories of suppliers, publications, organizations
and other resources.

Joe Copley, president, says the site grew out of his passions for both old homes and the Internet. Copley is currently living in and restoring a 1910 American Foursquare near downtown Charlotte, where OldHouses.com is headquartered. The house is on the commercial edge of Elizabeth, a fine example of a Southern neighborhood built at the turn of the 20th century. He has lived in and restored several other old homes.

“Remembering the past is about looking forward, not backward: preserving our heritage enriches and informs our future. That is
why I want to celebrate the glory of our architectural heritage,” says Copley.

According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the United States has more than 30 million housing units built before 1950. “The Internet offers new ways to celebrate and promote the preservation of these old treasures far into the future,” says Copley.

According to real estate industry statistics, approximately one million old houses are sold in the U.S. every year. And roughly 90 percent of the buyers of these old houses use the Internet to facilitate the purchase process.

Venetica partners with IBM

Venetica, a developer of enterprise content integration applications, has struck a marketing and technology partnership with IBM. Venetica says users of IBM DB2 Information Integrator will be able to access more than 20 common content repositories that are supported by its VeniceBridge platform.

Venetica enables customers to access various types of content across disparate databases through one interface.

Copley Internet: www.copleyinternet.com

Arcus Medical: www.arcusmedical.com