Story Behind the Sketch – Blue Orchid

Meet the ORCHIDLift. It’s Blue Orchid’s game-changing sit-to-stand lift for care facilities and the increasing trend in at-home care. Sina Afshani is the man behind the innovative assistive device, and he’s shared some early drawings with us from when ORCHIDLift was just an idea he had roughly sketched out. Here’s the story behind them!

Concept-Lift3For Sina, the idea for ORCHIDLift started at home; the device was born out of a genuine need his family had to care for his elderly grandmother.

She had been struggling with Alzheimer’s and was living with Sina’s family in their home. This meant a lot of lifting for his parents, as they would constantly be moving her in and out of her bed. It also meant lots of strain on their backs and increased risk of injury to his grandmother. Sina knew there had to be a better way.

“Around the same time, I was working on my thesis project at OCAD University and became interested in the assistive device space,” says Sina. “I was planning on doing a Masters in Design, but changed my mind when I learned about the Master’s of Technology Entrepreneurship and Innovation at McMaster’s W Booth School of Engineering Practice.

sinasketchOCAD hosted a guest lecturer from the W Booth School who spoke to the program as well as the entrepreneurial ecosystem thriving in Hamilton, which piqued Sina’s interest.

While at McMaster, Sina began toying with the thought of turning his lift idea into an actual business. He was referred to Innovation Factory, where he received business coaching and began working on a commercialization strategy with Bernard Lim – an Executive-in-Residence at Innovation Factory with expertise in life science innovation.

Blue Orchid's founder, Sina Afshani, pitching at the 2015 Synapse ShowcaseSina has since produced three prototypes, competed in Innovation Factory’s Synapse Life Science Competition and LiON’S LAIR competition – winning prizing in both – and is on track for having models for sale in 2016.

Building a startup hasn’t all been smooth sailing, of course. Sina has found his biggest challenge to be excelling in both product design and business development. “When you’re a designer, you’re not necessarily worrying about the success of having the product sell. You want to build something functional,” he explains. “Once you start thinking about selling it to a potential customer, it becomes challenging to figure out if your design is moving in the right direction to satisfy a market need.”

What is Sina’s advice for budding entrepreneurs that may just have an idea? “Get yourself a good team, some strong mentors, and then have a really solid funding plan. It’s important to know how you’re going to get yourself to market.”

To learn more about Blue Orchid and the ORCHIDLift, visit