At Fractyl we’re building an amazing team – the best I’ve ever worked with. Our team is super smart, highly productive, and absolutely dedicated to our mission. We see the big picture but we aren’t afraid to sweat the details. We also know how to have fun.
Great teams start with great recruiting. Recruiting best practices are important, but not enough. Read on to learn how we’ve built best team in medical devices.
Every once in a great while I read something so well stated that I put down my book/ipad/kindle and just reflect.
So when I recently read a post from Mike Sellers on Quora, I had to share it with you. Mike was responding to the question “As first time entrepreneurs, what part of the process are people often completely blind to?”
Mike wrote beautifully about software companies (read his original post here).
Ask most medical device marketers about market segmentation, and you’ll get an earful about physician specialty (and subspecialty), hospital/facility size or type (academic, ASC, for profit, large system, etc), or adopter type (early adopters, followers, and skeptics). Unfortunately, these approaches rarely help companies identify customer groups that are differentially addressable – i.e. best served by different products or services, different price points, and/or different marketing channels and sales techniques.
Medical device firms can do much, much more to understand and better serve their markets. Even back in the 1980’s much more could be done. Let me explain how I approached market segmentation twenty-something years ago.
My list of ‘healthcare VC’s with money to invest’ has become increasingly popular, and today I’m very happy to say that I’ve reached an important milestone: three years of data.
In total, my list now includes about 250 VC fund raising announcements from January 2009 to February 2012. Considering that VC’s typically make their new investments within three years of the fund’s raise, I suspect that the list includes the vast majority of healthcare VC’s that are actively making new investments in startups today.
Bijan Salehizadeh of NaviMed Capital recently presented more statistics on the great returns that VC investors have realized in the life science industry over the past decade. Life Science investing has outperformed IT over the past 10 years. Really.
You might be surprised to learn that quite of few of those successful investments were New England medical device startups.
In the last half-dozen years, there have been more successful exits than you may think. While a handful have exited in the hundreds of millions, success for many was defined as a solid return on a less-than-$20M total investment.
Somehow these exits have managed to stay under the radar screen. Until now.
Who are these New England medical device startups? Who are the entrepreneurs who led their companies to success?
Lean manufacturing, now common in the medical device industry, originated in the automotive industry. Companies that truly embrace lean practices dramatically reduce costs and inventory levels while improving product product quality.
Stage-gate and requirements-driven product development, pervasive due to FDA’s QSR, has roots in PRTM’s PACE process and Robert Cooper’s Winning at New Products. A well-designed product development process shortens new product development timelines and improves the likelihood of product success.
Medical device companies reap tremendous benefits from borrowing the best practices of other industries. Unfortunately, most of us spend our whole careers in medical devices with limited knowledge of other industry practices. Meanwhile, as Marc Andreesen wrote last summer, “Software is eating the world.”
It’s not just the dramatic decline in the costs of memory, processing and communications that is fueling the software revolution. Key to software success is a radically new approach to product development best summarized in Eric Ries’ fantastic book, The Lean Startup and Kent Beck’s classic Extreme Programming Explained.
While I don’t expect scalpels to be replaced with software anytime soon, we in medical devices can learn a lot from Lean Startup software practices. Today’s topic: test-driven development (TDD).
Look around the parking lots of medical device companies, and you’ll find that most engineers drive Japanese cars. Even those who drive something else acknowledge the manufacturing prowess of Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Subaru and Mazda. When it comes to cars, we all know that manufacturing matters. Look inside the buildings of medical device companies though, and it’s often a different story. Most product development engineers have little understanding of the discipline of medical device manufacturing, other than a required familiarity with good manufacturing practices. It’s the rare medical device product developer who understands single-piece flow, 7 wastes, line-balancing, cell-based manufacturing, theory of constraints, poka-yoke, kanban design, kaizen events, six sigma, zero defects and the many other buzzwords/elements of lean manufacturing. It’s a real problem.
The best development engineers know that manufacturing matters, and engineers who “get” manufacturing create significantly better product designs and significantly more value. No great medical device designs make it to the end customer without being manufactured. I could even argue that medical device product development is all about manufacturing. Here’s what I mean.