Founding a Medtech Startup: Tips, Tricks, and Tools
We recently chatted with Corey Yantha, founder of Dispension Industries. Corey is part of one of our first cohort of the TELUS L-SPARK Medtech Accelerator Program, a program designed for founders of innovative medical services and devices.
Dispension Industries provides protected vending machines working with integrated biometric technology. Their system allows registered clients to access regulated products, such as medical prescriptions and pharmaceutical products.
When chatting with Corey, it became clear that starting a business in the healthcare sector has its special challenges, as the industry is regulated by the government. Solutions require strong security, great accountability, and cost-effectiveness. At the same time, setting foot in this industry presents immense opportunities for entrepreneurs, as the sector is growing about 5.5% every year.
Let’s have a look at what advice Corey can give us on how to found a business in MedTech and overcome industry-specific challenges:
Keep your attitude on-point
It’s no secret; entrepreneurship is challenging and every entrepreneur will sooner or later come to a point of standstill. To keep track during tough times, you need to bring the right attitude to the table.
What stands out like a gem in the sea of entrepreneurship is demonstrating perseverance and focus. Growing a business takes its time, and you need to train yourself to be resilient and patient: “When facing challenges, the key is to always be optimistic and positive. This means you need to look for help when needed and brainstorm creative solutions when you face standstill.”
Over the years, Corey placed a great deal on developing an “athlete-mentality”: “You go out to always play your best, even though sometimes you don’t win. Losses are the best way to learn and get better every day.”
Build a strong team around you
Trying to build a successful business single-handedly can turn out to become a daunting task. In order to thrive in the business world, entrepreneurs should surround themselves with a strong team: a match of advisors with experience. Network with people from various sectors, with a different mix of skills and knowledge, or with people that simply bring more experience than you have to the table.
When you are the one building your team, make sure to seek the right combination. Many people believe harmony is the goal, but in fact, diversity is: The best teams combine distinct personalities and skills to achieve better results.
Believe in the impact you are making
What separates a good business from a great business is the higher vision, the purpose that goes beyond sheer business revenue. With a clear vision in mind, your impact will create a big stir, and not just for you. Some define their purpose with their corporate social responsibility goals, while others aim at creating a solution for people’s problems. As much as personalities and businesses vary, so do their greater purposes.
For Dispension Industries, it was incredibly inspiring to collaborate with MySafe Project. MySafe is a safe supply initiative formed in response to the overdose crisis, providing people with a safer, regulated supply of opioids to prevent drug overdoses.
“The very purpose of the MySafe Project is to use technology to reduce societal and physical harms to people who have been pushed to the margins. It has been incredibly rewarding to see the lives of these people improve since being involved in the project,” said Corey.
“To hear participants say that this project has allowed them to stabilize their lives and re-establish relationships with their families because they aren’t hustling and committing crimes to obtain illicit street drugs to alleviate their withdrawal symptoms, street drugs that they know may kill them, that to me is the ultimate reward,” he continued.
Use people skills to pitch to governments + healthcare providers
It’s not news that the MedTech sector is a highly regulated business, with other hurdles, (such as sparse financing and fierce competition) coming on top, entrepreneurs often have to brainstorm for creative solutions and think outside-the-box.
However, there are ways and means to embrace the challenges of MedTech. When you have to convince people that are working in more traditional and regulated environments to invest in modern solutions, you’ll need to rely on your empathy and communication skills. Don’t hesitate to demonstrate that you are solving real world problems. Further, show that you are credible and accountable by doing your research and demonstrating your expert knowledge. Both are crucial to build relationships with governments and public investors.
Corey agrees: “The way you position and communicate your technology is crucial. 99% of businesses in this sector want to solve public health challenges. Let’s take our example of a low-cost data-driven system that can distribute restricted products in a more secure manner. We offer a solution and we communicate it that exact way.”
Learn with and from others and join accelerator programs
Last but not least, the greatest help for Corey in founding his business came from his mentors: “Above all, the mentorship gave us the opportunity to develop technology mentored by CIRA, Solace, BlackBerry , and TELUS. Only with the help of industry experts, we were able to develop the right technology fitting our purpose.”
There’s more to mentorship than just sharing industry knowledge. Mentors help you to become the entrepreneur you need to be to succeed in the business world. They support you in identifying your businesses’ weaknesses and turn them into strengths.
On top of that, by being part of an accelerator program, you’ll gain expertise on how to be a praise-worthy CEO: “You learn how to deal with feedback, as well as train to lead an entire team and mobilize efforts from your team members — just by listening to them and taking their individualities into account.”
Now, as Dispension Industries is growing, Corey Yantha is looking forward to seeking out more ways to become a better CEO himself. “Who knows, I might as well become a mentor myself, and support others in what they are doing. I believe that what sets one entrepreneur apart from another, is their willingness to share their best secrets.”
Are you a budding founder ready to thrive in the tech sector? Apply to one of our accelerator programs today to be in the next cohort of successful entrepreneurs!