12-year-old Mahsa Riar combines design with innovation to create affordable prosthetics

From a hobby to a full-grown business, here’s a look at how one Loudoun County resident is paving the way for change through her company, Limitless Limb.

Mahsa Riar (Photo by Aaron Spicer)

Mahsa Riar’s road to becoming an inventor began when she was still in elementary school. “When I was in fourth grade, I had read about 3D printing and I came to my parents and asked if they could get me one,” says Mahsa. “They eventually got me one and I started printing whatever I could think of, miniature models, jewelry, trinkets, anything.”

Her friends got wind of her new hobby and asked her to print jewelry for them. Those requests became a business, 3D Cool Prints, and perhaps she would have remained an innovative jewelry designer if it wasn’t for a book she read the following summer.

“I read a book about a girl who had lost her leg in an accident and she couldn’t afford a prosthetic, and this really touched me,” recalls Mahsa. “I thought, what if I could take the business I already had, 3D Cool Prints, to the next level?”

And Limitless Limb was born.

With the help of her father’s friend, who is an orthopedic surgeon, she studied how to make a prosthetic and worked to design one that could be printable using biodegradable PLA Plastics. The total cost to make one? The price starts at just $50—a significant savings over a traditional prosthetic, which can run anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000, depending on the limb and materials used.

In March, she took home top honors at an investor’s pitch panel that was part of the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce’s annual Young Entrepreneurs Academy. It was there that Mahsa was assigned a mentor and learned how to take her idea from concept to a viable business.

This summer, she’s been reaching out to local doctors’ offices, prosthetic programs and even summer camps that work with kids with prosthetics to try and find patients in need of her invention. She’s already received some interest and she hopes she’ll have her first patient soon.

A designer at heart, Mahsa says she’d like to be an architect when she grows up (“I’ve always loved HGTV.”), but, for now, she’s focused on building her business.

Her advice to other young inventors?

“I’d tell them to pick a business that they’re passionate about because if they’re not passionate about it, then they’ll never get anywhere with it,” she says. “And sell the problem they solve, not the product.”

This post was originally published in our August 2019 issue. To read more about NoVA notables making a difference in the community, subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

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