You have an idea for a company and you’re not exactly sure how it works or even if you started a company what you’d be doing day-to-day; what your tasks would be, what it would be like in three or five years. The clincher was we applied for and were accepted on the incubator programme at London Business School. That was external validation saying that there is actual potential for a company, there is a need here and you can develop a business around it.
This article is provided by the Deloitte Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Most of our time is currently spent doing market research and preparing our documents for investors so that we can create a dialogue about what the time frame is like, what the different milestones are; preparing a very specific kind of value proposition so we can put that to investors.
I’m working on it full time. We’ve got two neurosurgeons, on our team who work on a part-time basis. And then we’ve also got an engineer working part-time. ‘This isn't rocket science, it’s brain surgery’, is the line on our website.
Our product is basically a surgical Swiss army knife. In neurosurgery there’s constant switching between tools. It could be scissors, it could be diathermy for cauterising or suction to drain fluid. Surgeons will do this dozens to hundreds of times during a several-hour operation. Every time they do this they break their focus. They switch and they risk damaging the tissue as well. So what we came up with was a device which combines the four most commonly used functions in neurosurgery into a single tool.
We have validated this across different surgeons, ENT surgery and retinal surgery, to see if this is actually a need. If you look at surgeries now, there aren’t any that can’t be performed given the correct tools. The question is can things be improved? If this results in lower complication rates, shorter surgery times or whatever the metric is, it will be substantially better for healthcare providers and patients.
We’re working on a prototype, trying to go as far as we can without seed funding, which is challenging. In terms of what’s involved — setting up a company, commercial property protection, regulatory approval and so on — it’s a long time frame. We may not see cash flow for a few years.
The biggest competition is the status quo. Senior surgeons are often reticent to try new technology. There are entire sales forces hired to go and push whatever the latest and greatest is. There is a massive graveyard of failed surgical tools. To actually make a product that people love will be the biggest issue.