Alexis Ucko and Quentin Perraudeau have been on a mission since 2014: to develop simple and innovative solutions to free as many people as possible from back pain and the daily frustrations that go with it. It’s quite a challenge given that 80% of the world’s population are affected by back pain at some point in their lives. In the UK musculoskeletal disorders account for 30% of all work-related ill health according to HSE. In just eight years, more than 300,000 users have adopted PERCKO products. Their next challenge? To help more than one million people by 2025. The UK is firmly set in their sights as a source for this growth.
The origins story of this French wearable tech start-up
Both engineers by background, Alexis Ucko and Quentin Perraudeau met during their master’s year at ESSEC Business School in France. Alexis’s father, a dentist, suffered from back pain due to being bent over his patients every day. They began brainstorming solutions to help him and soon realised that existing products were unsatisfactory. They were often too complex, limited movement, or in the case of the lumbar belt, offered only short-term relief and atrophied back muscles. None addressed the anatomical mechanical problems that caused the pain in the first place.
Co-founders Alexis Ucko and Quentin Perraudeau
With this in mind, they worked with a team of biomechanics experts, physiotherapists and osteopaths to develop their first product: the Lyne UP. A discreet ‘smart’ vest. This R&D work was made possible thanks to a hugely successful Kickstarter fundraising campaign in 2015. The €30,000 required for the project was acquired in less than seven hours and more than €385,000 was raised overall, almost thirteen times the initial objective.
Equipped with a patented system of elasticated tensors, the Lyne UP vest uses the principle of self-correction to naturally encourage the wearer to engage their posture. All while allowing full range of movement and strengthening the back muscles for long-term relief in the process. Co-founder Quentin Perraudeau explains: “we wanted to create a product accessible to all. One which doesn’t require any connection to an app or the need to recharge a battery. The entire PERCKO mechanism is based on our patented system of tensors placed on the shoulders, chest and along the spine”.
PERCKO worked with a French specialist in innovative fabrics and wearable tech to test different materials, laser cutting, lamination, laminating, and ultrasonic welding… In 2016, the first year Lyne UP was advertised, more than 10,000 of the PERCKO vests were sold.
Six years later, the Lyne range was certified as a medical device and has expanded to include a model for the home, the Lyne HOME, as well as a model adapted to sports, the Lyne FIT. After numerous requests by companies wishing to equip their personnel, PERCKO now offers two devices specifically designed for professionals: the Lyne PRO, a waistcoat for workers in the logistics, construction, and transport sectors; and the MEDI Lyne, a model dedicated to nursing staff, developed in collaboration with a dozen establishments and hospitals. Over 2,000 companies use PERCKO products today, including French rail operator SNCF.
“Companies are a major area of development because back pain is one of the main causes of sick leave” says Quentin Perraudeau.
An eye on the future
At the end of September, PERCKO entered the world of bedding in France, launching its first ever mattress and ergonomic pillow designed alongside health professionals to relieve back pain. Extensively tested in laboratories and put through their paces at every step of R&D, PERCKO is currently looking at their commercialisation in the UK.