Want to know what's happening next in healthcare?

MedCityNews is the leading online news source for the business of innovation in healthcare.


“MedCity news is a peerless national resource for those of us who really want to stay on top the very latest news in healthcare from incumbents to startups. ”

Elliot Menschik, DreamIt Ventures partner; Venturef0rth founder; Penn professor


Sign up for our daily newsletter


The 10 Cs you need to lead an emerging medtech company

September 29, 2011 10:32 pm by | 0 Comments

To assess the value of a diamond, an appraiser looks at the 5 C’s (Cut, Color, Clarity, Cash balance of Customer). Turns out the C word options for evaluating anything are virtually limitless. So, long desiring to write a blog topic about the Critical Constituent Components of the ideal emerging med tech CEO in a Clever but not too Challenging manner, I naturally turned to the letter C.

There have been many books, articles and probably blogs written about what it takes to corner the corner office. When that corner office is overlooking the HVAC system of a sub-sub-leased space crammed with tired-looking engineers, low-paid summer interns, 3 day old pizza, EBAY-purchased testing devices, duct tape covered chairs, and the strewn parts of multiple cannibalized pieces of equipment, otherwise known as a start-up med tech company, different rules apply.

Here are the 10 C words that best describe the truly effective small-co Med Tech leaders:

Advertisement

Confident
Admittedly, confidence is a generic requirement of all great leaders, especially when the top job description includes fundraising. In med tech, the sheer number of parties who must be convinced of the company’s promising story (investors, thoughtleaders, professional societies, regulators, payers, and strategic partners, to name a few) is daunting. Most important, though, is the confidence to know when you are no longer confident in the path you are pursuing, in which case it is time to pivot and become super-confident about the new direction! Blog post on pivoting coming soon.

Competent
There is no substitute for just knowing your stuff across all functions of the company. While the ability to see the forest for the trees is an absolutely essential trait in the leader of a development-stage med-tech company, that same leader better also know the genus, species and root structures of all those trees to help make the dozens of decisions and trade-offs that must be reached on a weekly basis. There is no room in a small med-tech company for a telegenic figurehead (okay, well maybe not on the management team; that’s why the good lord invented Advisory Boards).

Clinical
Technology companies are often run and staffed by, unsurprisingly, techno-heads who are in love with the gizmo they have created because it is truly an awesome gizmo. The ultimate customers, when presented with said gizmo, are thinking about three things: 1. Is your gizmo inadvertently going to kill anyone, 2. How much does your gizmo cost, and 3. Why should they care at all about your gizmo. Misperceptions about the clinical context in which the gizmo will be used can send really smart development teams 100 miles per hour in the wrong direction.

Casual
Med-tech entrepreneurs are generally older and not as prone to donning surf shorts as their IT counterparts, but in a small med-tech company, the stuffed suit types stand out like a penguins in the desert. Save the fancy duds for external meetings (even those dress codes have slackened) and try a tool belt on for size.

Calm
With so many moving parts (often literally) to developing and commercializing a medical device, and so much pressure from investors on time to revenue or exit, the nail-biting moments are guaranteed to happen on a regular basis. In these anxiety-filled situations, the calm med-tech CEO will foster problem solving (for which the engineers on staff are hard-wired) rather than panic.

Cranky (occasionally)
Calm works most of the time, but the R&D team would keep iterating designs and the clinical research team would keep refining the protocol and the regulatory consultants would keep wait for responses and the attorneys will keep dawdling on the agreement UNTIL THE CEO GETS REALLY CRANKY. The cranky genie must be kept in the bottle and used only sparingly, but the capacity to unleash it at the appropriate time is essential.

Clear
The epitaph of many deceased med-tech start-ups might read: “just couldn’t focus.” Lack of clarity on the company mission and the problem being solved is deadly all the way around. That doesn’t mean the focus never changes, sometimes dramatically with failures or great luck (okay, usually failures), but at any given point in time the leader of the company must project clarity of purpose both internally and externally.

Comical
Just because you are taking peoples’ lives into your hands with your new medical technology doesn’t mean you have to be super serious all the time! The long hours, the stress, the tedium of many steps along the way call for some investment in the fun department (as long as it doesn’t break the piggy bank!). No jokes with the FDA, though, they are like airport security.

Crazy
One looks at the margins on most consumer items, and the short development times, and the seemingly effortless, benign decisions to be made, and one wonders why anyone would choose to lead a med tech company. To sign up for all that work and risk, you have to be a little Crazy. And maybe it is because you Care about making a difference in the world.

Copyright 2014 MedCity News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Amy Siegel

By Amy Siegel S2N Health

Amy Siegel is the co-founder of S2N Health, which provides emerging med tech companies with business strategy and marketing services to support successful fundraising, partnering, product development and commercialization. Amy brings 15 years of med tech strategic marketing and business development experience to S2N Health, having held VP roles in two emerging med tech companies and consulted for dozens of large and small healthcare companies and investors with the firms Health Advances and Monitor Company. Amy earned her B.A. and M.A. from Tufts University.
Visit website | More posts by Author

0 comments