Hope all is going well. As expected, September turned out to be quite a busy month. We had several announcements, from being awarded a small business grant focused on our Bio-Spun™ Cell Chamber and announcing our collaboration with Finnadvance to use our Bio-Spun™ scaffolds in their microfluidics platform to receiving recognition from the state of Massachusetts related to manufacturing of our different products. We are a small-scale manufacturer at this point so please do not think we are taking the world by storm yet. You do need to start somewhere though.
The business team traveled to the National Institutes of Health last week to meet with researchers and other companies to discuss our benchtop products, which we refer to as In Vitro Research Tools or IVRT products. I would never have guessed when we first started that we would be displaying our products at meetings or that we would have some customers in Europe. We were solely focused on medical devices so any type of demonstration wouldn’t have happened for many years after the device was approved for use in humans. It was nice to see the team taking the lead and speaking with various folks. For the meeting, it was nice to let go of the steering wheel and let the young folks take control. Very proud of them (as well as our whole team)! When we first started the company, it was only me, so I had to do everything. Taking any type of vacation over 2-3 days was a challenge. I started to think about what the topic of this week’s blog would be on as I was flying back, hence the reason for the title. I thought about looking at the company from a high level.
Some of our loyal readers were commenting that it seems like we were getting good news every week. As I relayed to you when I first started writing the blog, I would give you all aspects of our business: the good, the bad and the challenging. I have always tried to portray what it is like as a small business owner. Like all businesses, there are always challenges. I think that it is easier for people to believe that life is always good at BioSurfaces, especially when we’ve had some good news. So many of our blog readers tell me that the company must be cruising along. I can tell you as one of the founders, being a business owner is not like a Disney movie. Even when Tina and I have talked about the challenges and worries, I think many people think we are not telling the truth or just don’t believe it since we’ve been in business so long. I think it is easier to believe that all is well rather than believe we have challenges (opposite of Julia Robert’s quote in Pretty Woman about people believing the bad stuff). We have really never had the fortune of not worrying about funding. In the over 20 years that we’ve been in business, we’ve had more valleys than peaks. We have been fortunate to have some people along the way, including our investors, that believe in us and our technology as well as what we are trying to do. We would not have advanced as much as we have without them. The typical worries about how the company is doing, making sure everyone is paid, how do we grow the business if things pick up, where do we secure funding, why do I have to chase people for months to get an answer to a question, etc. are reoccurring themes.
The hardest part of what we do is always the changes we encounter, many of which are unexpected and really screw up your plans. I always think that if I was like some of these smooth-talking, fact-altering and in-the-know CEOs that I read about or have encountered over the years that have no real data but raise millions and then move onto the next big thing because they’ve done the deal, then we would not have to worry about these types of unanticipated earthquakes. I think there is a merry-go-round with these types of folks since they execute deals that don’t work but it doesn’t matter. It’s all about the “deal.” How else could you explain when companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a program only to have it fail. Some of that is biology (in the case of drug development) but more of it is based on poor understanding of the opportunity. Still, these folks end up in the next place only to do a similar crappy deal. I wish I had some of this in me, but I cannot change who I am, even if it makes the struggle harder.
I recently chatted with someone who told me that they look at certain companies even if the data is questionable. Another person relayed to me that our target market (vascular grafts and perianal fistula plugs) is not conducive to making billions so no one will invest in it. These are actual statements. Completely bonkers! We also tend to run across other craziness such as large companies taking advantage of small companies by setting up crazy payment terms (60-90 days – would you be allowed to take this much time to pay your bills?), wanting us to do more for less, companies taking over a year to decide if they want to work with you and then saying not interested and companies that start down one path and head in the complete opposite direction are the things we face daily. Imagine trying to plan your company’s path forward based on this chaos. We’ve even had a potentially large deal fall apart because the final signature we needed for a long-term deal did not occur for 2 months since he decided not to open his email. At that point, the company spent the money that was allocated for this program. I cannot not make this stuff up. This is what keeps me up some nights. Someday, I think I will write a book about all the things we’ve been through, regardless of the ending of this story.
Through all of this, the two consistent things are our great team and our outstanding technology. We as well as others continue to show that our Bio-Spun™ scaffolds and devices perform as we describe. There is no better validation than having someone outside the company showing you good data with your material. As inventors, you always love your technology so it is great to get unbiased positive comments. We continue to look for additional strategic partners or investors that want to help us really move our technology forward. Finding these people, whether it is for a device like our NuSpun vascular graft for patients with kidney disease or people that need a perianal fistula plug because they have ulcerative colitis and want to see treatments for themselves and others without having to make a billion dollars, is like finding a needle in a haystack. We won’t provide any unrealistic expectations, even though being able to help a lot of people should be enough to get someone excited. Even with our IVRT business, we are getting close to really expanding our customers and want to find people that would like to invest in this space. If you or someone you know is interested on how you could be part of our mission, please reach out and let me know. I do believe that for our graft and fistula plug, it is going to take someone with family history that has the means to invest in new technology that could one day help them, their family and others, leaving a legacy. I think our blog community could help us find these people. You could be helping a lot of people who will not get helped from the companies that are only looking to hit the jackpot. We will continue to make progress as we’ve done all of these years, but it would make moving our technologies that much quicker. We love what we do and will continue to put every ounce of effort to make this company successful with the goal of helping people. What would be better?
Lastly, we are happy to announce that we are hosting our first webinar focused on next generation solutions for benchtop tissue models (https://www.biosurfaces.us/webinar) on October 11th. Our own Dr. Patrick Hayden will be presenting his research on this topic along with Dr. Minjae Song from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences and Dr. Tuan Nguyen from Finnadvance. We hope you can join us for this free event. We are going to also record the webinar so if you register and cannot attend, we can send you the webinar. Please also share the link with others in your network as we are looking to have a nice turnout.