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Week 6 – Two-Sided Coin

Hope all is going well.  We are in the full swing of summer (well at least the temperatures make it feel that way).  Things always seem to slow down here a bit during this time as our team begins to take more time off (well-deserved) along with the remote days, it can be quiet at times.  For a business, sometimes quiet can be scary and it has been for us at several points over our existence.  This type of quiet, however, has been different.  Over the past several months, we have seen an increase in orders related to our IVRT products, which is encouraging considering that we have not put a lot of funding behind a marketing campaign.  We are even getting inquiries from companies in Europe.  Outside of IVRT, several companies have either purchased or are exploring purchasing our Bio-Spun™ material for different medical device applications.  And before I hear that the company must be doing great, I want to preface that this is the start of selling our Bio-Spun™ scaffold/material so these are not monster sales and I do not want to give that impression.  It is promising, however, that we are starting to see some repeat customers and more inquiries into purchasing our products. 

We did not envision that this would be an aspect of the company when we first started the business.  We started solely focused on medical devices, which would have required us to raise funds to develop the core technology, raise an additional substantial amount of money to go through clinical trials and eventually license or sell the technology to another company in the space who would use their sales force to sell the product.  When we first started the business, we were naive to think that we could do it all.  Instead of licensing or selling the product to a larger company with more bandwidth, we thought about directly selling the medical device to the end-users (i.e. hospitals, group purchasing organizations or GPOs), becoming the next WL Gore or Medtronic.  As you learn more (and as a scientist and not a “true” businessperson so this took a little longer), we realized that the amount of funding required to pursue this route was going to be substantial (10s of millions of dollars). 

From the original studies, we believed that we had something with this technology.  We were able to carefully design the experiments and analyze the data.  Being a scientist, this is what you live for.  The nice thing was that we had control over the process and the results coming from these studies were black and white.  There is no gray space in science.  If it was good, we would know it and continue moving it forward.  If it was questionable or negative, it would have been time to rethink the business.  We have done a lot of work over the past 21 years developing the technology platform.  My feeling was that if we needed to bring in investors one day, I wanted to make sure we were not a one-trick pony and that our investors would have multiple shots on goal.  Science is something that I love and have come to appreciate more over the years.  The problem is that I was not just a scientist like I was when I first started my career.  I needed to consider the other side of the coin – the business side.

What I have come to learn from the business side of things is that many of the concepts you hold as a scientist somewhat go out the window.  To anyone with a business background, this is not meant to be a bashing session of the business field, only my perspective from the outside now looking in.  I would say that, from my viewpoint, I had no clue what was needed to be successful, even from the beginning.  One area that we were lacking in is having someone from the beginning with a business background, especially as it relates to fundraising and networking.  My network at the time was all science and medical contacts, many of which I am still fortunate enough to have to this day.  LinkedIn was just launching so networking was limited to in-person and again, I did not have a personal network in this space.  Tina and I both grew up in blue collar families so we had no outside connections even within our immediate orbit.  I often wonder where the business would be had we had that one businessperson that had access to a network, especially on the financing side.  Cannot regret something we didn’t have but wonder if the path would have been easier.  

Another misconception on my end is that our science would lead the business.  Sadly, it is the opposite. Yes, you need good data to have a company but it isn’t just about the data.  Market size (and willingness to overexaggerate it), technology area (many institutional investors are not interested in medical devices due to perceived small market size – millions vs billions) and projected long-term revenue all outweigh whether the science is good or the technology can help people.  Even something as simple as my previous thought of building and derisking our platform technology has been questioned by some investors as taking too long and lacking focus.  I took this route to protect future investors and it is looked at as a negative by some (not all).  Our science is excellent yet success seems to hinge on the business decisions as to whether we will be successful in the end.  I have worked hard over the past several years to build a business network from scratch.  It has not been easy, but like everything worth doing, it will be worth it in the end.

As I mentioned, we are starting to see traction in terms of sales.  We are currently fundraising to be ready to meet the demand as it grows.  You need to start this early so that the company will be ready for this growth.  This process has presented a whole other learning curve.  There are so many reasons why a person or company won’t invest with you.  You have to be strong to keep hearing “no thanks” since that is a majority of what we hear (I can tell you as a positive person, it weighs on me).  Being the eternal optimist, it only takes 1 or 2 people or companies to say “yes” because they believe in the technology and the business (likely not in this order) that will propel us forward.  If you or someone you know wants to invest in a great company (of course, I am very biased), please feel free to reach out to me through our website.  You never know where the contact will come from.

Thanks as always for your support of the company!  We are always inspired by the nice thoughts shared with us.       



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