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How does a device innovator find the talent and funds to start a company and the commercialization process?
< 1 min reading time
As originally asked by Joel Steinberg, MD, PhD.
This is a challenge. The typical innovator, often a physician, may not have the entrepreneurial skills or funds to commercialize the device. So where to look? So called incubators typically offer rental space, not skills or funding. And the busy physician will usually prefer to find local talent as a practical means to collaborate. Most sources of capital, VC’s and angels, expect an established company to approach them. So what are the options for the innovator, the inventor, to make the transition from concept or early prototype, to form a company?
Burrell (Bo) Clawson
It is easy to see this when you go to raise capital as I am doing. We show our OTC cleared & patented POC test with virtually no competitor having a sealed kit for hospital Pyxis ADC use or any OTC kits and over 100 million kits/year used clinically and we have explained the details clearly (& verifiably). Product superiority is not an issue.
Investors scan so many prospective investments, I have heard it said that you get 20 seconds to make a great impression or it hits the trash bin.
If you get beyond the 20 second scan, most investors have had losses before and some probably seek to find their concept criteria in a company as opposed to finding a great product that can meet or exceed profit goals.
It is never easy.
The same situation occurs to professors who have great research and are not looking to leave the bench.
Joel – one limitation you have put forth – they must be local – will limit your choices but should not be a disaster.
My advice, get to know your BIO community. There are many people at the meetings who are or know the kind of experienced executive you are seeking.
You may also want to contact Safeguard Scientifics (VC firm) located just outside Philly. Don’t go in looking for an investment, go in looking for referrals to people they would be open to hearing from one the plan is in place.
Go to pitch competitions, entrepreneur gatherings, and networking meetings. Try to connect with Angel investor groups. You are looking for people not money at this stage. With that focus, you are more likely to get a few minutes time. It’s the difference between talking to a movie director about how he/she shot a particular scene in their last film and asking them to read your screenplay.
I will also send you a few names of people I know in your area by private email. I hope to see great things soon.
Steven R. Rakitin
Getting funding for a device innovation is a challenging process. I have worked with many early-stage startups and recently came across the MD Idea Lab at UMASS Boston. [http://www.mdidealab.com|leo://plh/http%3A*3*3www%2Emdidealab%2Ecom/ZNkV?_t=tracking_disc]
This incubator not only does all of the things you would expect, but also provides mentors and consultants to help develop device innovations into tangible products that can then be pitched to VCs.
I hope this helps…
W. Bradley Worthington MD
Do you have FDA approval to market the device (implant may take four years of clinical trials with NO guarantee that it will be approved)? Is it substantially equivalent to the existing device (it is less hassle for FDA approval)?
Is it a device or a system? Does it involve electronics? How do you know it works? What field is it in? Is it disposable or re-usable? If it is a system, does it have any consumables?
Do you have a patent? There are all kinds of funding available. What is in it for them? How different is it than what is existing on the market?
I do not have sufficient info to put you in touch with right people.
Burrell (Bo) Clawson
My patent attorney did recommend learning enough about the Provisional Appl to make sure what you say in the document is said in the right way and that everything is correct and useful for your full application as you will be held to what you say in the Provisional application.
It might be good to let your patent attorney provide an outline & review your Provisional Appl. so you don’t “box” yourself into a corner you don’t want. Wording in the patent office can mean things which are specific to patents and sometimes it is not obvious.
Obviously, nobody has a crystal ball. But one needs to be brutally realistic about the prospects of a new product/device. Not negative, but honest. There may be little reason for a start-up to develop something simply because the originator of the idea thought it would be cool to do and nobody else is doing it. There may be good reasons nobody else is doing it. ;>)
The originator of the ideas tends to have rose colored glasses on. This is good as you need to be optimistic and enthusiastic about the chance for success. But before you get too far down the road, the realistic estimate needs to be done.
Also, you may run into nay-sayers and ‘experts’ who will shoot you down. This needs to be judged realistically too. They may lack the experience or vision to understand what you want to do or have their agendas of their own. So it is your vision and your gut feelings that need to be true and honest.
Also, be honest and honorable with the people you work with on your project. Don’t promise what you don’t intend to or can’t deliver. Trust the judgement of those you work with. This should go without saying. But I have seen a number of start-ups fail because of this.
Joel Steinberg, MD, PhD
I’ve been using a specialized leg compression device for 25 years to enhance blood supply of legs (diabetics and the elderly) to save them from amputation. Time to commercialize it, via design upgrades. Located in the southern NJ/greater Phila. area, I am seeking local talent (experienced medical device entrepreneur/CEO type, with fund raising experience, etc.) to build a team/company and move forward. I know the medical market pretty well and know what and who the competition will be (more competition via the politics of medicine than from potentially competitive devices).
I am having meetings with local people that will hopefully provide that ‘aha’ moment and we’ll run with my plan to success. As one said, you have a ‘game changing’ device. I remain open to all input. So if anyone out there can provide specific direction, it would be most welcomed.
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