Reggie Swift has helped several companies develop their products as an engineer and became inspired to change the world with some of his own ideas. He’s working hard on them when he has the time (in addition to his other job) and is feeling the pains and joys that come with being an entrepreneur. Listen to some of the things he’s overcome and what fires him up every morning to keep working hard and pushing forward with the spirit of Imua!
- A brief introduction to today’s guest [1:09]
- Recouping strategy [6:14]
- Tips to get your idea into fruition [7:50]
- The most difficult part of Reggie’s journey [10:01]
- Tips you need to know about grants [12:24]
- Self educating yourself while putting up your company [13:45]
- Market research surprises [17:02]
- Final tip from Reggie [19:18]
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Recorder: Are you ready to master the waves of medical device product development? Well wax up your surfboard because you are listening to inspired by Imua. Here is your medical device product development expert that Hawaiian hearted hostess who will help you hang ten. Meghan Alonso.
Meghan: E komo mai and aloha! You’re listening to inspired by Imua, where we help you master the waves of medical product development. Each week we interview guest that educate, guide and inspire to give you and your product the skills you need to hang ten. If this is your first time listening, Imua is spelled I-M-U-A and it’s a Hawaiian word. It means to advance forward with passion despite rough waves. There are plenty of those in the medical device development but keep listening because we’ve got you covered.
Meghan: So it’s been a while since I’ve done this my guest today is going through product development himself as a start up company. He spent a quite bit of time helping other companies develop products as an engineer and thought hey they’re changing the world, I’m helping them change the world, I will change the world with my products. So that’s what he is doing and we walkthrough his journey and some of the trials he’s facing and what he does as an entrepreneur to keep going. I want you to tune in, listen, soak up what he’s going through and he has some inspirational sayings and I love where we end up. I did wanna remind you if you are in Southern California or if you want to be in Southern California cause I know right while the country is facing a cold weather so if you come out on January 23rd for Medtech Monday that is right across the street from — Airport in Orange County. You don’t need a cab, just walk across the street. I’d love to see you there, I’m speaking there and I have the discount code for you if you go to medtechmonday.com. You can register and get $100 off with the code Monday100. So let’s dive on the interview we’re gonna with Regie Smith. He is developing his own combination product and he help other develop products before he is out of the Boston area probably one of those cold areas, so Regie you should come out here to for medtech monday. Enjoy the interview. Let’s get to it.
Meghan: So regie are you ready to hangten? Give us a little bit more backround in addition to that intro I gave.
Reggie: Right now I have a medical device manufacturing company that I have started of sometime in March of this year. I’m very happy about it because I decided to spring forward to my own platform after making quite a bit of money for a lot of people outside of my own space which include Johnson Johnson, Metronic, you know all of big name medical companies so being an engineer I decided to venture of into my own space really focus on developing treatments and solutions for under represented causes and underrepresented people which kinda let me to the creation of this company – strategies. I want to develop something that can be used in –. You know hear about prescription drugs that are out of control and you hear about – happening for a – of life. I want to develop those solutions to combine the two. I want to be known as the king of the combination products so I wanna focus the research development of products that are in the sector.
Meghan: I have 2 questions for you. Elaborate a little bit more on the target populations that you’re looking to serve and then also tell me what kinds of combination products do you specialize in?
Reggie: Thank you for asking, actually those two questions can be answered in conjunction with each other. What our focus is devices in 5 different disciplines that range is from cardio vascular, neurological, orthopaedic, muscular and – areas. That’s very wide range, that’s pretty much the whole body. Our initial concept device is in the cardio vascular space so we are trying to develop a drug delivery component to – intervention that’s where we’re headed towards now. We are still in prototyping base but we are making good head way. Ofcourse we are years out to really get that develop and to commercialization due to many clinical trials that we have to undergo and approvals but we feel that just population in cardio vascular disease area is sorely under represented only because a lot of people are going for the stand treatment and event the stand treatment are in by far not etiquette they don’t have a great advocacy. The other men that can be produce, ofcourse we know some big players like Boston – but I think there could be more than one way that is gonna cut.
Meghan: So this is a big under taking for you to go after some of these under represented market and like you mentioned with – that’s very popular there is probably have market share, well there has a big market I don’t necessarily know about market share cause I started players there but when you go after underrepresented market it’s smaller so you have to be strategic with your plan. How do you in vision your products to be able to coop that if you’re not gonna be selling as many. What’s the strategy for you there?
Reggie: What our focus in strategy is although US is a big market, there are several areas in other countries that we want to put our whole focus towards only because the process in the regulatory aspects in the US a lot more – in other countries so the access to get in that great health care, yes it happens here in America but it becomes expensive. I wanna be able to provide those services at a cheaper rate therefore when I develop this devices they are able to have that immediate interface to have no issues in going to surgery or surgical procedure operation in someone in needed this device and actually use it instead of – their nose somewhere else in America.
Meghan: Starting a company is really big under taking and a lot of my listeners are wanting to do what you’re doing, it’s scary, it’s daunting. You’ve done it. What some advice that you give someone that has an idea that they hasn’t taking next step yet.
Reggie: Very good question! The first instinct is to want tell a lot of people about it to see if they buy in only because it becomes a great liability, let’s just say you try to make some new medical device and you have this aspect and you have this idea in your mind and you want to bring on many people or stakeholder to really represent you or support you during this process. You should always – your eyes or – your – now that means if you have the idea, start with the paperwork, you wanna make sure you are covered in the beginning because it could become a very hazardous landscape in the end once you are trying to raise funds, you bring people abort. When you come into some money, people will change and attitudes will change. I’ve started a company before and it comes out from everyone. You always have to surround yourself in the first place now if that were to happen they’ll be there no matter what and they will protect you no matter what so you always have to make sure that you cover yourself first and then you can trust your people around you whoever you deem is a good character to really want to help and bring the board and push your idea to forward. A lot of people who will go in your way but you should do your work first by – eyes and – your – because that will be the indicator of whoever is gonna be there for you and whoever cheer you on and really support you.
Meghan: So what’s been the difficult part of the journey for you?
Reggie: I’ll tell you this when I first started I gotta go raise funds quickly and it was trying to harmonize the idea in my head in really articulated manner to be put in paper and really be saw to – capitalist or venture investor. The hardest part was realizing that you don’t need your funding upfront. When you started business that is your goal you need a lot of many to keep your business going and it becomes scary. The idea is really just meditate and just calm yourself and be patient so that was the hardest journey when I started and now I bootstrap the whole operation from – to –. Securing federal grant funding, securing opportunities with the state, securing opportunities with many other organization to help develop my product even further. There is a lot of other opportunities you just have to be patient because there is a gap from when you start people take you seriously it can be 5 months or it can be 2 years but if you always remember around to try to funding. People will not take you seriously because they don’t ever believe that.
Meghan: It seems that you found before you start chasing some of that money. You want to be sure to have everything in line like your business plans organizers, executive summary, you made your process they’ve seen like hey this guy is really proven himself look at all his hardwork he’s put into has look into, look at how far he is come with his a little amount in his bootstrap. Now I kinda take him seriously. I know the grant process can be really slow and arguish do you have any pointers there that are gonna start out with grants?
Reggie: The best thing I can say is that what any new grant solicitation always read the opportunity entirely because they will be more – than any more opportunity that you face. It’s free money coming in but they have specific circumstance that you have to meet in criteria that you will fall under. If you don’t fasten yourself in a way that meets their needs, yes you can commercialize your product through that system and change that scope later but initially you always want to work with them instead of them working with you.
Meghan: So when you started this journey I just started talking with you a few months ago so you are not doing this for a while. How did you decide to make that leap? When you are working for other companies and you thought okay now it’s time to develop my own product. How did you educate yourself? How did you find out what you needed to do?
Reggie: I did it in two ways. 1 in order to find out what’s actually needed you just have to get started, yes you are going to make mistakes but that’s the intent for you learn what to do next. Second before I even started the organization I already have a role map although it’s a skeleton role map it was still a role map. It was still goals that I want to accomplish personally and professionally within the next 2 to 5 years. It laid out kind of a path in terms of strategy to move from one avenue to the next and to get to that final transcape where I wanna be laying on the beach sipping a mojito. So before I even got started I already have the entrepreneur bug in me since I was a kid anyway. I always want to create something. I created a keyboard that had different symbol for it. You press the button twice and that will be Spanish and when you press thrice it will become Chinese but that was long ago and realizing for something of industrious like medical device, you really have to have an idea before you even decide to get started. Let’s just say you’re at work with your desk and you wanna create this new app, you just have to make sure the intent use of the device and what is the market price of the device and if you can come up with those works with your own motivation under your own — then maybe you can take the leap forward. A lot of people have a lot of idea in their head and they want to make the business and they make the business plan later that means they fail to have a strategy. A plan is useless but planning is useful. The planning is to interface between the paper document and what’s your actual realize. You can plan and then collect dust but you have to understand your strategy is under planning that’s why you can move efficiently.
Meghan: So your product really appoint about the marketing and the intended user and that’s one thing that I feel is the core of this idea is to be able to go out there and talk to people that are actually using something like your idea for the device. Maybe if it isn’t done before than what are people doing now and finding a lot about that. What’s something you encounter when you’ve been doing some of this market research is there’s something surprise you about that?
Reggie: Actually when I first started, I was solely focus on my cardio vascular device and the challenges that I faced was that what do you actually find the data? Where do you actually the – where people are putting on as information of where the development because it’s not easy to find. I was able to look on some websites like clinical trials like – although it’s a — site as well. You can access some of the information based on the results of what your device to do and that’s how you are gonna reverse think or reverse process of what the device that you’re creating or the company creating. So non of the critical points that I came across early was actually articulating all of the – that’s there although my device has specific intended use. You will see a lot of in tile data bases where you trying to cover a – spectrum and I can understand that they will market their device to be wide spanding as possible so you can always say that you have competition or no competition at all. That’s very surprising for me what I found when I found what I’m going through taking a look and through the market for my device was actually trying to decipher many of the languages and the trials that have been done or going to be done for the intended critical function of what I’m accessing.
Meghan: So that’s a tip right there. All of the government website anything that watch that the government is doing is not true. A lot of this research going on with the government or the government health plan, all of that is a public record so if you just start going in there and doing some research you can find out a lot of good things. So any last piece of advice as far as this journey is a tough one. You probably go through emotions like a rollercoaster every single day. What’s something you do to get through this and to keep as – as you can be?
Reggie: I wake up like 4:30 in the morning so I’m pretty much an early bird but what helps me is to give yourself a message that you want the real reason why you’re still taking this endeavour. I actually say be brave there is actually a clip from the movie War Horse and I just love the trailers for it. There is one part that the colonel was telling his troops to be brave because they are going through the unknown and a lot of the kids are young so they were just adequate to deal with the emotions but it gives me the sense that yes I’m going to unknown but atleast I’m not losing my mind and making all of this wild decisions that can put my jeopardy at risk in the first place. Yes I’m knowledgable about lot of processes and lot of things that happen in the company and gave me sense of calm so if you are able to find your purpose now I know that term is over stated a bit but it really is true just to find your purpose. Let’s just say you wanna help out this certain population then you can get out of it. Just keep going.
Meghan: I always recommend the book purpose truth in life but there was start with the y by Simon –. You always get connected with it and ask why I am doing this, why I am waking up at 4 am and working so hard with this? I was just actually talking to this clinical or psychologist last night at this networking event and asked her, what’s the most rewarding part of your job? And she said you know I worked with people that wanna change their life but they say they wanna change their lives but their actions have to really start reflecting that and we got into discussions about just writing things down, writing down your purpose, writing down positive things to remind yourself of, like be brave. This was years ago on Saturday live there was a character called Stuart Smally, I’m good enough, smart enough, people like me but you know we were talking about that and she said it is as powerful if you said to yourself that. Moral of the story be like Stuart Smally. Make it personal. Well Reggie thank you very much for being on today, it’s a pleasure to have you and it’s always nice to get inside of someones head that’s going through the journey so I know our listeners will appreciate that.
Reggie: No problem. Thank you so much Meghan definitely a pleasure talking with you. To all our listeners there, Be brave!
Meghan: Hope you got some few golden nuggets from that interview and you know afterwards we realize that we didn’t give Reggie’s contacts information if you like to reach out to him so a way to get hold with him is firstname.lastname@example.org drop them the line say HI. Talk to him about his journey and until the next episode, Imua!
Recorder: Mahalo for joining us. If you’re new to riding the waves of medical device product development, or if you’ve been in development for a while already, Inspired by Imua is here to surf with you. Want to be a master of the waves? Text hang ten that’s all one word HANGTEN to 44222. We’ll send you the most common wipe outs companies make in product development so you can avoid them and reach master wave status. Again, that’s HANGTEN to 44222. We publish a new episode every Tuesday, so catch us at Inspiredbyimua.com. Imua!