Published April 25, 2020 | Updated April 25, 2020
Like many Americans, Jim Regenor decided to leave a major US city to wait out the coronavirus crisis somewhere less populated.
But unlike most people, Regenor decided to start up a brand-new business during the crisis to help hospitals facing equipment shortages — and he grew an idea into a 15-person business with a Department of Defense contract in 12 days.
Regenor, a former Air Force colonel, was in Boston when the virus hit, participating in Techstars’ Air Force accelerator for a manufacturing-focused startup he launched last year. When Boston went into lockdown, Regenor headed back to his current hometown near Buffalo, New York. He decided to start a new company when he noticed that hospitals were maxing out their equipment during the outbreak.
Regenor’s company, Rapid Medical Parts, created a device that converts CPAP machines, which are typically used to treat sleep apnea, into machines that can treat COVID-19 patients. The team has been building the device over Zoom, meeting twice a day, and chatting over Slack or by phone in the interim. Regenor described the team makeup as mostly “aerospace guys,” as well as a ventilator expert and a doctor.
“We’ve done all this without ever meeting each other face-to-face, without ever having more than one person in any room at any time, spread out between Salt Lake City, Florida, Arizona, California, Washington state, Connecticut, and Buffalo,” Regenor told Business Insider.