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La Chât alumnus and entrepreneur returns to campus to share extraordinary story

mardi 6 mars 2018   (1 Comments)
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Chris Hutchison graduated from La Châtaigneraie in 2009; he had passed his IB with success, and was ready for university in September at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. A typical Ecolint graduate, interested in a thousand different things, and looking forward to his summer in Geneva before heading off towards a bright future. 

The Butterfly Effect

Then a split-second decision changed the course of his life. He often refers to it as his own “butterfly effect” moment. He leaned against a stopped train at the Nyon train station. The next thing he knew he was waking up to doctors in a hospital telling him he had lost both his legs in a train accident. The train had pulled away suddenly, pulling him underneath it, sectioning off his legs and leaving him blind in one eye. Quite some news to take in for a 17 year-old; but he didn't let it dim his bright future.


The potential of a good idea: the birth of Prosfit

Today, nine years later, Chris has two leg prostheses, and walks on his own with the help of crutches. Fighting battles against himself, his psyche, and the naysayers around him, he has learned to enjoy every moment and take nothing for granted. in 2013, with the help of his father, he founded Prosfit, a company that provides below-knee 3D printed prosthetic sockets.

Chris visited La Châtaigneraie at the end of January to share his story with a class of young students who dream of starting their own companies someday. “The idea for Prosfit started with a mind-map scrawled on A3 paper,” explained Chris, “after a physically uncomfortable plane ride back from South America, during which my legs were in constant pain due to ill-fitting sockets.”  Chris and his father worked relentlessly out of their apartment for a year, doing research, getting prototype software, putting together a clinical investigation, and proactively making connections.

“Always make sure you are talking to people who know more than you do,” Chris encouraged. “It’s always important to rely on the knowledge of specialists. There’s not use in re-inventing the wheel.”  The project found investors in the emerging community of entrepreneurs in Bulgaria, where the family resettled after the accident, and Prosfit was officially launched. “I still can’t believe no one else had the idea before us. If you have an idea, and it’s a good one, there’s no telling how far it can go. If you work at it hard enough, and connect with the right people, it could really become something viable,” continued Chris with a gleam in his eye.


Inspiring students

The students sat in attentive silence, taking in the words of the young entrepreneur who had walked the same halls, interacted with the same teachers, and faced the same challenges as they do daily. Chris spoke with humour and transparency about being a double-amputee. He passed around his prosthesis, explaining to the students the kind of difference a good socket-fitting makes, and how 3D printing has made the fitting process so much easier. Students lined up to thank him at the end of his intervention, saying they’d been inspired, and asking if they could stay in touch to ask for advice for their own business ideas.

As Chris left the campus, on to his next meeting, this time with Swiss television, he confided with a smile: “You know the funny thing is, the IB is the hardest thing these students will ever do. Setting up and starting  my own company was easy in comparison!” 

Thanks to Jil Robinson, Geography teacher at La Châtaigneraie, for reaching out to the Alumni Office and for coordinating Chris’ visit.


Susan C. McNamara (McMullen) says...
Posted vendredi 16 mars 2018
Chris, thank you for sharing your inspiring story .. and hello to your mom and dad!

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