Jeff Carlisle
Pneuma Systems

Your 30-second pitch

Pneuma Systems finds vexing problems in healthcare and inventively develops solutions to them. We then license these assets to healthcare market leaders. The company is mostly interested in things that flow, such as liquid, information, and cash. We are protecting patients from overdoses during self-administered intravenous pain medication.  Needlessly, several people die each day from overdoses because monitoring methods are inadequate.  Solving this problem requires a re-imagining of fluid control, human interaction, wireless biosensors, power management, and more. We are also reducing the variation in results found in biological laboratories during the process of pipetting.  We are eliminating that variation by bringing together novel fluid sensing techniques with robotics.

Who or what was your best resource for starting your company?

Tom Plummer, Pneuma’s Chief Technologist, often works from his own lab where he lyrically claims…anything can occur in Henniker.

Incubator environments, such as the New England Innovation Center in Portsmouth, are very helpful.  Core infrastructure needs can be shared and you can enjoy the camaraderie of like-minded entrepreneurs. Rapid prototyping is critical to iterating your designs.  Utilizing low-cost rapid fabricators with instant online quoting and two-day delivery has transformed months into days.  Similarly, you must exploit rapid open source electronic / software Arduino and Raspberry Pi platforms.  Using cutting-edge tools may set you apart from larger companies that might be stuck with legacy “professional” systems.  Remember, a good design will incorporate dozens or more iterations to reach the final solution, so you must learn to fail rapidly.

What was your biggest obstacle in starting your company and how did you overcome it?

  • The top three problems are funding, funding, and funding.  Getting the capital always takes longer than expected and can seem all-consuming at certain stages.  The Cardinal Rule of financing is “you can only get the money after you have convincingly shown that you don’t need it.”
  • Take fundraising in stages.  Every moment of the business has a different risk/reward profile.  Most investors and investment vehicles (convertible note, SAFE, equity, Royalty) are only suitable for certain stages of business.
  • Take care of your investors.  If you give them what they want, they’ll be right there the next time you need funding (and there will be a next time).
  • Don’t use a fundraising broker.  Do it yourself.

What’s the best advice you have received?

  • Follow your bliss.
  • If you can be passionate about what you are doing, be learning a lot, and providing more value that you are getting paid, then everything else will work out.
  • Work with good and nice people.  Life is too short for the alternative.

Three of Pneuma’s design engineers – Matt Dolan, Tim Schroeder, Nick Paiva work in the waterfront lab in Portsmouth.

What about the NH lifestyle appeals to you? 

To the extent that we are still the “Live Free or Die” state, NH provides freedom of opportunity, with relatively few obstacles for entrepreneurs. Proximity to Boston is vital and the seacoast/ mountain mixture is magnificent. Employees have a vast array of relatively affordable options for urban, rural, suburban living without the nightmare of traffic.

What does the future look like for your company? 

We will continue as a team of about a dozen people of diverse skills, working on important problems, while expanding the portfolio of companies with whom we license our developments.

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