As I was working on a design update for the DWMEDTECH.COM website, I was pleasantly reminded of why I love doing this work. The designers pulled up some public domain graphics of medical devices for consideration for the background of the landing page. One of those photos was of a device I worked on with a major monitoring company more than a decade ago. My team and I were only with the development a short time, but our contributions jumpstarted the development work for the client. That device is still monitoring sick patients today and our work is still recognizable if you know where to look.
That is why Medtech Midwife is apropos for the contributions we make. We are there to provide the extra talent and/or skills to get the device to market. We are not the mother or father of the idea. Neither are we owners of the patents or the device design. We contribute to the success by finding and knocking down the risks and uncertainties that stand between the development team and the patients they strive to serve. It many ways, advisors and consultants are part of the overall ecosystem or architecture that assures innovation continues.
DW Medtech Advisory LLC was formed and operates to work with and for Medtech Developers and Investors. We do not get to take credit for the product launches or the rescues of problematic manufacturing. We do, however, take pride in their existence and place in the panoply of medical technologies saving and improving lives.
Recently, I have become more involved in the growth capital investment stage of Medtech. Without torturing another metaphor too much, that stage is somewhat like evaluating scholarship applications for university applicants. As investors, our job is to make sure that the applicant can make the best, most productive use of the funds and deliver a successful, new device or service. And, yes, we expect to make a profit on those funds if we are mutually successful. Investment should never be confused with altruism or charity. In many ways, the smart investors are like midwives too. They bring their experience, skills, network connections and, yes, that critically important funding. I have never worked with a truly successful investor who did not put as much or more sweat equity into a company as money.
Please don’t misunderstand, funding is an absolute necessity for Medtech Innovation. Incubators and accelerators do a good job for early innovation. Venture capital is also vital to get through the middle stages from proof of concept to final product. But when it comes to achieving scale and competing in (or even just breaking into) commercial operations, it often (I would say, almost always) takes a larger more powerful model. For the last 15-20 years, this stage has been shifting away from larger established companies making investments to private investors. The big strategic companies want further risk reduction before exposing their share holders (you and me) to big investment risks. Personally, my 401(k) is grateful for that restraint. This is the growth equity realm. It is where both the risks and the rewards become substantial. It is also why success in that realm requires savvy and courage in the investors.
So this growth stage is where the Medtech Midwives of the world really earn their fees. The stakes are substantial. Failure (or significant delay) will cost the investors large sums of money and the reputations of the leadership team will be damaged.
At the end of the day, it comes back to my favorite topic: RISK. How do we mitigate the risks of this enterprise so that we get to and stay in the market, help patients and generate revenue. It helps to be able to recognize the risk and the opportunities quickly and effectively.