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Michael Korn

Michael Korn is the Founder and Inventor of KwickScreen, a company specializing in healthcare furniture and interiors. KwickScreen has revolutionized the concept of hospital dividers by introducing a hygienic, portable, and sustainable alternative to disposable curtains to create private and safe spaces for patients in various healthcare settings.

Under Michael’s leadership, KwickScreen has emerged as a pioneering solution, supplying over 250 hospitals in 15 countries. His work has been recognized with several accolades, including the James Dyson and the Lloyds Enterprise awards. In addition to his role at KwickScreen, Michael is the Founder of Neurodiverse Works, a consultancy and technology firm dedicated to supporting neurodivergent individuals in the workplace.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Michael Korn shares how raising two autistic children affects his viewpoint on business and life
  • The story behind KwickScreen and how Michael invented its products
  • The challenges of manufacturing and charging for printed products
  • Where Michael got the idea for his KwickSwitch product
  • Bootstrapping a medical device company without raising money
  • What was the first significant sales milestone for Michael?
  • Michael talks about his previous products that didn’t make it commercially
  • The idea behind Michael’s other company, Neurodiverse Works
  • How Michael’s grandfathers inspired his products and companies

In this episode…

How does one entrepreneur’s journey in healthcare innovation intersect with a deep commitment to neurodiversity? Can the challenges of designing hospital spaces inspire a broader conversation about inclusive workplaces?

Michael Korn, an accomplished inventor and entrepreneur, emphasizes that the key to success in both healthcare innovation and promoting neurodiversity lies in understanding and addressing specific needs. In healthcare, this means creating solutions that enhance patient privacy, contribute to infection control, and improve overall hospital efficiency. For neurodiversity, it involves recognizing the unique strengths and requirements of neurodivergent individuals and creating environments that celebrate and leverage these differences. His approach underlines the importance of empathy, tailored design, and inclusive thinking in driving meaningful change and innovation.

In this episode of the Rising Entrepreneurs Podcast, Dr. Jeremy Weisz speaks with Michael Korn, Founder and Inventor of KwickScreen, about his trailblazing journey in healthcare innovation and his advocacy for neurodiversity. They delve into the development and impact of KwickScreen, its growth amidst the pandemic, and the inception of Neurodiverse Works, highlighting the importance of inclusivity and innovation in today’s entrepreneurial landscape.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

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Episode Transcript

Intro  0:03  

Welcome to the Rising Entrepreneurs Podcast where we feature top founders and entrepreneurs and their journey. Now let’s get started with the show.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz  0:13  

Dr. Jeremy Weisz here, founder of where I talk with inspirational entrepreneurs and leaders today is no different. I’ve Michael Korn of KwickScreen. That’s And Michael, before I formally introduce you, I always like to point out other episodes people should check out of the podcast. Okay. Since this is Michael is a fellow EO member in London. We have some we had Robert Hartline from EO Nashville. He talked about how he built up a chain of wireless stores, sold it and is working on and he’s got a software companies working in a number of other other objectives as well. We have Mat Zalk of Keyrenter property management, EO Tulsa, and we had Winnie Hart, who has the book Stand Out and runs the company, TwinEngine, check out those episodes and many more And this episode is brought to you by Rise25. At Rise 25 we help businesses give to and connect to their dream 100 relationships. And how do we do that? Well, we actually do that by helping you run your podcast, we’re an easy button for a company to launch and run a podcast. So we do the strategy, the accountability and the full execution. You know, Michael, we call ourselves the magic elves that run in the background and make it look easy for the hosts of the company so they can create great content and great relationships. You know, for me, the number one thing in my life is relationships. I’m always looking at ways to give to my best relationships. And I found no better way over the past decade to profile the people and companies I most admire on this planet and share with the world what they’re working on. So you’ve thought about podcasting, you should you have questions go to I have lots of actually free episodes of Mike where people can check out any topic they can get their hands on for free about a podcast. So check those out. And I’m excited to introduce Michael Korn is Founder and Inventor of KwickScreen, which is supplying healthcare globally with products that transform their spaces. And we’ll see some of that, in 2020. Sales of his retractable screens climbed from 1.9 million. This is pounds by the way, which is more than dollars to 7.4 million if you remember and he remembers there was a pandemic. Okay. That’s incredible. So he’s also founder of Neurodiverse Works, which is a consultancy and tech business that breaks down barriers for Neuro divergent people at work. And he is describes himself as a creative dyslexic, a chaotic ADHD-er, manufacturing engineer and a product designer turned serial entrepreneur, and most importantly, Michael, father of three. So thanks for joining me. You know, you said something before we hit record, which is, you know, speaking to the Neurodiverse Works, okay, and I’ll have you explain a little bit about KwickScreen is and Neurodiverse Works. But you said, you have two children who are autistic. Okay, so how does that affect? When I think of raising kids, it’s difficult enough. You know, I see my kids having whatever struggles are to them. Not to compare, but it’s not even close to someone who has something going on with them, like someone who’s autistic. There’s other challenges that are there. So talk about how that affects your viewpoint on business and life.

Michael Korn  3:49  

Sure, I don’t see it as you know, that as you know, this this like terrible challenge necessarily, although it is different. I think it is the normally universally harder we live in a world that is designed for the neurotypical. So when you have a child that doesn’t fit that world as a parent, you have to, you know, maybe have one of two choices, you can try and change the child or you can try and change the world and I’m mostly about trying to change the world because I don’t think there’s anything fundamentally wrong with my children. And if I was to try and change my children, I think they’d been classed as the most stubborn rigidly, you know, formed brains of what their special education needs teachers has ever come across. I think I’d fail if I tried to change them as well. And not only I also think that it’s the wrong thing to do is absolutely massively changed my you artists as a as a entrepreneur, business owner, having a autistic child who’s now 12 And it was at the age of you know, one two, we could see he was very different. Like he’s changed the way that I parent and my other two children I think I parent differently thanks to having had him as my first pilot. I don’t project onto them what I want them To be and I try and put myself in their shoes and see the world from their perspective. And that learning, I think the learning that a parent gets from their child is a very deep learning because it’s relentless. It never ends, you can’t, it wakes you up in the middle of night to remind you, that learning has stuck with me, I think for the way that I approach business as well. I’m less controlling, and I think helps me as an entrepreneur, because I’m now more able to let people do things their way and, and may be more empathetic and how they might be perceiving a situation differently to me.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz  5:32  

Yeah, I mean, it bleeds into leadership. Right. Um, so just talk about KwickScreen first, and what you do there.

Michael Korn  5:43  

So KwickScreen, I invented the product 16 years ago, when I was a student, oh, oh, here we go. Look at that, I was about to say the popup banner behind you on its side, but bigger. And there it is.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz  5:58  

If you’re watching the video, if you’re listening, the audio, there is a video version. And you can see what’s cool about, you know, all of you talk about the company how you started it, because it’s really interesting, because you invented this. But it says world leaders in privacy screen innovation, as you can see, there’s, um, it’s not just a plain screen, but you can actually print on it. So it makes it it’s, you know, obviously hygienic. And there is actually a video out there that I saw where they kind of sprinkled, what looks like, what would be germs, on the what the typical curtains are, and those don’t get washed, obviously. And so that those, those is a, I don’t call myself germaphobe. But I’m germ aware, personally, and you know, those, those don’t get cleaned when they’re the normal curtains you see in the hospitals. And with these, there’s a singular point of cleaning, because you’re really just touching the edge and moving it forward. And they did. And obviously, it’s easily to clean this, this screen that is if one of these the normal curtains that you see. And they did an experiment under UV light, where they kind of compare the two, which is kind of cool. But you can print on them too, which is which is interesting. And I’ll show some examples of there’s some they have in like a pediatric area, which, you know, kids can feel more comfortable with, with these type of things, you can kind of see, you can print stuff on there, and there’s animals, and if you know, kids are gonna be like, it’s just more of an inviting environment from a sterile environment.

Michael Korn  7:32  

Wow, Jeremy can join our sales team. So yeah, I’ve been a champion of promoting germ awareness for the past 15 years, you know, often has been a hard fight as you as you highlighted, during the pandemic, everybody became germ aware. And so that was one of the things that caused our business to have a a big period of growth. And yes, as you’ve highlighted this product is the premise was the curtains between hospital beds for privacy are really ineffective or giving privacy. They trap germs that touch all over the place and they can’t be washed in America. Yeah, they’re laundered. They get pushed in the washing machine. In Europe, they tend to be disposable, so they’re thrown away. And they’re not washed enough. And they’re not thrown away enough. But actually, when they’re washed, or thrown away, it’s terrible for the environment. The washing uses lots of energy, and chemicals and getting thrown away they go into landfill. So it’s a really dirty, ineffective and unsustainable way of providing privacy to patients in hospitals. And this was the invention 17 years ago, 16 years ago and now the product is we’ve got a whole range of products all around the same concept of a big rollout screen, like you’ve said for lots of different applications in healthcare. And the business is going really well.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz  8:53  

What are some of the I want to hear about how you came up with the idea but before we do, what are some of the other products so we could see here the screen what else is there?

Michael Korn  9:03  

So we’ve got the five focus on the screen that rolls out then we’ve made different versions of that screen that rolls out some hospitals spaces are smaller so you might have that ere you might have the I think if you click on KwickScreen underneath that it will show the other versions of the KwickScreen so pro edge duo kin shield odd these all different versions of a roll up screen then and the this is you know the main like core product of the business but we’ve also developed the KwickSwitch so if you go to the top you can click on that the KwickSwitch this is really exciting film product. You can stick this on any window works really well on interior windows in offices and hospitals and schools. You press a button and at the flick of the switch it goes from see through to not see through and we’ve developed that in a way that is easy to install. Super easy to install anyone can do it is fire safe. We It’s all of the requirements for use in offices, and hospitals. And also it comes as a complete product. So the electrics and the wiring is all done. So you don’t need to have an electrical installer. For that product. We’ve only just launched with Steelcase, one of the biggest furniture manufacturers in the world. And we’ve launched that across North America. That’s really exciting. So it’s, it’s similar to the quick screening concepts, because you can have privacy that’s hygienic, instead of having curtains on the windows, technologically, it’s something completely new. We’ve been developing it over the past two years, we got a massive government grant. And this is the result of it. So that’s exciting. And then we have we have some other products we could do any interior printing in, in hospitals. So if you go to interior features that shows all of the all of the things you’ve got for printing wallpaper and printing signage, and if you go to the quick sketch, well, that’s quite a, it’s quite a cool product. It’s the world’s only portable retractable whiteboard, we basically turned a KwickScreen into a whiteboard. So you can write on it, roll it out, move it around the office, open it up again, and continue with what you had written.

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