It took 3 years of R&D and a leap of faith that we were ready to launch sales of the SUTUREGARD® Device: and it paid off. Our sales launch at the Fundamentals of Mohs Surgery conference in San Diego last week confirmed that we are on track: we have paying customers.
But for us, a successful sales launch has deeper meaning than proven traction:
- Our customers share our vision: and they were enthusiastic about sharing it. Some surgeons said using the SUTUREGARD® Device will increase their practice efficiency and allow them to add 1-2 more patients to their daily schedule, others bought the product to give patients another wound closure choice, especially for scalp flaps.
- Patients have greater choice for how their skin cancer defect is repaired;
- Use of our device is going to save the health system money, potentially a lot; and,
- We have finally made the mental switch from thinking about ourselves as inventors to thinking about ourselves as entrepreneurs.
That last bullet is a biggie. Inventors are notorious for wanting their product to be perfect before being released into the market. But, entrepreneurs know when a product is ready to be released into the market (what version of iPhone are you on?).
The SUTUREGARD® Device was ready. Three years of bench, pre-clinical, and clinical research with peer-reviewed publications, and extensive customer discovery* informed the multiple (more like 11) versions of what the SUTUREGARD® Device is now. Add in a kick-ass CEO, Dan Ladizinsky, a QMS system, a patent, and, of course, registration with the FDA: WE. WERE. READY. TO. LAUNCH. SALES.
But, until we made that first sale we still felt like inventors. Was the product "perfect" enough for anyone to buy? That first sale, which turned into a cascade of sales, transformed our thinking: we are entrepreneurs and we should own it. For years, we have been wearing many hats: the manufacturing hat, the R&D hat, the team building hat, the fundraising hat, etc. Entrepreneurs wear many hats, have many skills, take risk (check!), and make things happen.
* If you own a business or want to start one, you need to do customer discovery. Customer discovery is part of the lean start up process and is essential for taking any product to market. My go-to on the subject is Justin Wilcox of Customer Development Labs (https://customerdevlabs.com/).
The SUTUREGARD® Medical Cofounders at the Fundamentals of Mohs Surgery conference in San Diego