Meet Innovator of the Week
CEO and Co-Founder of Bio-gnostix
Please provide your 30 second pitch about your company.
Bio-gnostix provides Surgical Planning Models; exact 3D replicas of patient organs converted from MRI or CT images using our software set and 3D Printing. Putting these replicas in the hands of surgeons during surgical planning provides a sense of detail that is very close to looking at live organs. They are able to increase their understanding of the potential challenges and run highly detailed simulations. This decreases the time in the operating room and under anesthesia. It also brings a new level of collaborative understanding, allowing surgeons in remote areas to hold the same 3D model. These models have proven valuable in critical surgeries, brain tumors, and pediatric hearts as examples.
Who or what was your best resources for starting your company?
Dr. Noel Elman, our CTO, and I have had the desire to start a company for some time. We met about eight years ago and believed our complementary talents of Sales/Marketing and Invention/Innovation would eventually lead to a collaborative venture. When the vision of Bio-gnostix became clear in early 2015, we added a CFO, Mark Zuroff. Mark provided us with the necessary computational math and medical talent. In addition, we have built a Board of Advisors who see potential in a variety of patient related applications.
What was your biggest obstacle in starting a company and how did you overcome it?
The first factor that comes to mind is financial. We can always find ways to spend money faster, and we always need more of it! In terms of the day-to-day business, communication and trust are the biggest challenges. Because we are very much in start-up mode, we are not able to communicate as rapidly and completely as we would like. Therefore, we need to act more autonomously which demands trust. Luckily, Noel, Mark, and I all have a common base of ethics, so we enjoy a complete trust in one another’s actions.
What’s the best advice you have received?
The BEST advice I ever got was, “You should marry Ruth-ellen.” I’m so glad I listened, and I’m not just saying that so I can get a steak dinner! The start-up environment is extremely difficult; you are introducing something completely new, while building a company and culture. Many around you will believe you’re a little (or a lot) nuts! You need a strong support system such as your spouse, friends, mentors, and coaches. Likewise, you will also have critics! These folks can also be vital in providing a reality check. Asking, “Are you making real progress towards your goals?” can be especially helpful.
What about the NH lifestyle appeals to you?
I resonate with everything New Hampshire! I like four seasons and the quality of life. My children are adults now, and I love the education, culture, and outdoor experiences I was able to provide. When folks ask, “Where would you live if you could live anywhere?” New Hampshire is always my answer.
What does the future look like to your company?
We are excited! We believe that use of models in critical surgeries will be as common as an MRI or CT Scan. Currently, there are about three million MRI’s performed each year, and we estimate about 5-8% of those surgeries would be aided by a 3D replica. Beyond this, we foresee advances in materials to make the model bio-realistic. We also see further applications in imaging.
The Bio-gnostix team are all focused on the social impact of our technology. We have a unique enabler for life-changing critical surgeries, especially in the case of children. We have a unique opportunity to build a company and give back to our community. Our desire to make a real impact on the community is inseparable from our technology mission.