“In hindsight, everything is 20-20”, says Dom Messerli, an engineer turned entrepreneur who has been spending the last 3 years developing an entirely natural treatment for osteoporotic vertebral compression fractures at his company, Lenoss Medical. As part of our research for the NEMIC Med Tech Leadership Program, we interviewed a number of professionals within the Med Tech development space, from investors and scientists to entrepreneurs. Messerli's background encompasses a number of key skill-sets required to develop and commercialize a Med Tech product. With a background in mechanical engineering and a Master of Business Administration from Pennsylvania State, his entrepreneurial endeavors seemed to be a logical next step. However, despite his business success, he highlighted the ways in which he could have benefited from working with NEMIC and participating in our Med Tech Leadership Program, as he stated that most of his knowledge about starting a company and developing a product for commercialization was learned through experience, trial, and error.
Reflecting on his experiences, Messerli identified three areas where he ran into known-unknowns, as well as, unknown-unknowns; these being funding, networking, and timing. In reference to a story he told about his time at Synthes, a company later acquired by Johnson and Johnson, Messerli stated, “If it’s not covered by Medicare or private insurance, you’re in big trouble.” He said this pertaining to an anecdote about a product that was paid for, developed, produced, ready to sell, but not going to be reimbursed by insurance companies. In retrospect, Messerli stated that he could have predicted that the product wouldn’t be covered, however, at the time, it was too late. Therefore, the value he saw in this mistake was to always examine your reimbursement strategy before financing and developing a product.
This story ties to the two other challenges Messerli highlighted: timing and networking. As an entrepreneur, he stated that one of the biggest hurdles he’s run into is deciding when to do it and how to do it. In other words, how to determine the validity of a project and how to figure out the logistics of making it successful. After deciding that a product has market potential, one is left with putting the right team together and financing the project. In his experience, Messerli noted that many people have only one area of expertise, those coming out of business school and those with scientific backgrounds. He stated that networking on his own and at NEMIC events has been integral to his success as an entrepreneur. He noted that connecting with his colleague with expertise in funding Medical Technologies was paramount to his success at Lenoss.
Throughout the course of his interview, a common theme seemed to be apparent: make sure you know what your unknown-unknowns are and transform them into known-unknowns. With reference to NEMIC and our Med Tech Leadership Program Messerli declared, “If I had met NEMIC people sooner, it would have been a tremendous help.”
All Med Tech entrepreneurs face known and unknown gaps in knowledge. Our Med Tech Leadership Program was created to identify and fill those gaps in knowledge to create well-rounded entrepreneurs who will lead successful and fundable startups. Through our program, you will be given the resources to network and predict your unknown-unknowns and turn them into known knowledge.