CEO Spotlight: Leadership, Innovation, & Raising Capital in a Challenging Market | LSI Europe '22


Carolina Aguilar

Carolina Aguilar

CEO, InBrain Neuroelectronics
Read Biography
Bryan Lord

Bryan Lord

CEO, Pristine Surgical
Read Biography
Abtihal Raji-Kubba

Abtihal Raji-Kubba

CEO, Empress Medical
Read Biography
Berk Tas

Berk Tas

CEO, SentiAR
Read Biography
Scott Pantel

Scott Pantel

Read Biography
This panel will explore the innovation and capital raising paths of 4 leading innovators featured at LSI Europe.


Scott Pantel  0:04  

Thank you Welcome everyone, I just learned a valuable lesson. If you don't provide a bio, they're gonna copy and paste from your LinkedIn. And they're gonna read exactly what was there. But thank you for that. Thank you for that. I appreciate it. It's It's a honor to be here with this group of innovators here. And this is a session that I love to do. I've been to far too many meetings, maybe not too many, I think it's really important. But at these types of meetings, you'll often see on the stage, the investors who will share with everybody in the audience, what they're looking for, very important for us all to know. We'll have lineups of strategics, who will share what kind of deals they're looking for. Right. And we need all this information. And I think that we have a gap in the opportunities for us to bring the innovators up here, who are actually doing the work. And they're taking action to share what it is that they're doing. But also what they look for when they're looking for partners. And it's a really unique time. Right now. It's a challenging climate. I've shared this in the past that my heart is with everybody that's here. I love the medtech ecosystem. I love what we do collectively. But when it comes down to it, my hearts with this group, because they're the ones in my view that are taking the real chances out there. And so I'm with you all the way and the focus here is just to talk generally about what's going on in the environment, what you're seeing, we have a diverse group of technologies. So what I thought we'd do is we'll start with Burke, we'll work our way back. And if you could just introduce yourself and talk about your company where you're at right now. We'll go brief, and then we'll get through the details down the line.


Berk Tas  1:43  

Thank you. Thanks, Scott, for having us up here. It really is nice to see how you've become a partner of the startups that that we're all a part of. My name is Burke toss. I'm the CEO of SentiAR we're focused on our current development is focused in electrophysiology. And we're developing a augmented reality platform for holographic guidance, real time guidance. I know it's mouthful of what I'm saying just a quick explanation of what it is. It allows the physician who's operating in the heart as a minimally invasive procedure, allows them to see the heart in 3d in real time with the catheters inside. So they're able to navigate more accurately and more efficiently. That's our product. That's what we're up to. Thanks again, Scott.


Abtihal Raji-Kubba  2:35  

I'm Abtihal Raji-Kubba. I am president and CEO of Empress medical, Empress medical is a woman's health care company. Though my background is nothing to do with women's health care, the prevalence of the condition was truly an eye opening discovery for me and got me immediately hooked with the company. The company had already developed the product and ran a first in human study in Dominican Republic, where they showed a proof of feasibility of the treatment. Unlike the other treatments that are out there, starting with their very few options with women, for women with uterine fibroids to start with, for younger woman, especially women who want to to preserve their ability to have children the option to have children, the there are practically if there are any options, they are not great. Impressed medical is a game changer in the sense that it's introduced as a very simple simple technique, technology. However, the principles of it are very innovative. It doesn't involve any, you know, thermal energy nor risk associated with any any major surgery, no dissection. So it's truly truly compared to the other I'm not being biased through the I did that homework myself. Truly compared to the available options. It is we hope to show that it is one of the safest options that will become to women. I believe we owe it it's a it's a health public issue. I believe we owe we owe it to ourselves to woman our generation younger and the upcoming generations of woman. I hope that you will tomorrow when we present I hope you will see that you know we've made some progress in it. We plan to stay the course here. It's different. Everyone says where's your energy? How are you going to do this? We're sticking with the simple approach as being the safest and also the easiest to adopt by gynecologist. Very cool.


Bryan Lord  4:44  

Fantastic. Scott. Thanks again for having us. My name is Bryan Lord. I'm the CEO of Pristine Surgical, we make single use endoscopes and our mission is to simplify endoscopy and we do that really with two tools in our tool chest. First, we make single use scopes as mentioned And we put those into a single use kit, so sterilized at the factory and shipped them to our customers. And then we complement that with a cloud based software platform. So hardware and software, the two tools that we use, we have a couple of aspects to the software side one, we manage our inventory through what we call our pristine Connect platform, to we integrate a whole host of value added services, and then three, we actually facilitate the conversations with our Salesforce through our pristine connected platform as well. So simplifying, endoscopy basically, we make procedures faster, we make visualization better, and we lower costs. So it truly is a faster, better, cheaper option for our customers.


Carolina Aguilar  5:41  

Thank you. Again, my name is Carolina Aguilar. I'm the CEO of InBRAIN Neuroelectronics. And we are creating the first worldwide high density and high resolution intelligent neural system based on graphene. And it is a platform that we are starting with for Parkinson's disease. But we have also a partnership with Merck, to enter into bioelectronics in the very systemic conditions like anti inflammation. And in the last year from series, A, which was a significant raise for the European market $17 million, we were able with this money to actually prove the potential of the material in small animals in large animals. And now our next step is the first inhuman in cortical early next year.


Scott Pantel  6:30  

It's great. So we've got a diverse group of technologies. And I think in terms of stages of development, there's a mixture. But the one thing that we all have in common that you all have in common is that you're growing companies during challenging times. And it's not easy, even in the best of times. So we just come out of COVID we have financial situations, which are don't make things challenging. And I'll steal a quote from Andy Grove, which you've all heard, but it's that bad companies are destroyed by crisis, good companies make it. But but really good companies can thrive from it. And there's a reason that you've all been invited here. We really admire what it is that you're working on, and the leadership and the path that you're taking. So maybe I've made it sound worse than it is. So I'm just going to start there. How tough is it out there? What is what is the climate like? And we'll we'll work back again, what's the climate? Like? Am I overblowing it? Or is it? Is it challenging?


Berk Tas  7:28  

I don't think you're overblowing it. It look, raising capital is tough to begin with, it's hand to hand combat. Right in, and it doesn't always go the way you like rarely does. And it requires entrepreneurs to be very creative. And, you know, you have the attention of a potential whether it's venture capital or someone with money, who is interested in your company, you have heard their attention for a short amount of time. And they're inundated with other stories. So it's hard as it is. And I think what's happened now is a lot of the alternative capital that came into early stage, funding has come out due to the market situation, the you know, what happened with the stock markets, and alternative investments have gained more traction like some people are weighing Should I put my money in venture or should I buy more gold? So there's some of these alternative investments that was in or crossover funds? And they're taking a step right now. So the short answer I would say is it's it's you didn't over blow it out of proportion. But it also provides opportunity because the people you're working with the potential investors you're speaking to, are actually in it for the real reasons that you're in it. So it reduced opportunity. But if you're able to find them, they're they're looking for deals too. And they want to work with amazing companies. Yes, they're more selective. There's no doubt about that. But if you're able to get yourself it requires some differentiation from the crowd. Then what I found is you're working with real believers who are in this for the long haul. They've seen the cycles, they understand this is going to come and go they're not panicking, and they believe in your technology or your company. As opposed to someone I got extra money. I'll just throw it in. So I think I think you put it really well. I don't know if I would put it as good great bad. I'd probably say like if you're willing to put the work and effort and if you truly believe in what you're doing. And if you have customers who believe it then I think It's not as bad as it sounds.


Bryan Lord  10:04  

I'll point out a year ago, I had an investor say, I'm not interested in med tech, because I'm investing in Bitcoin. Now I hear for the first time, I'm not interested in med tech having someone investing in gold. Yeah, that's an eight year span, right? I mean, some of that is also quite tumultuous.


Abtihal Raji-Kubba  10:18  

Yeah. I think I'm hearing a lot more questions about maybe a lot more in depth conversations about, which is a reflection of how selective I think investors have become about, well, tell me more, why does this matter? Just a lot more deeper conversations. And so more time explaining what we're doing? I, I wouldn't say it's a hesitation as much as they are that the investors themselves are, are investing less. So they're being more selective about where they're investing. So you're getting a lot, you're getting multiple layers of questions about the same thing. And in the end, what out you know, what, at least what I've experienced recently is that the believers in what you're doing will come through, and they may ask twice, if maybe it's taking them longer the second round, but if they truly are believers in what you're doing, they'll come back.


Bryan Lord  11:20  

So we're fundraising to so I won't gloss over that. But I'll take a slightly different twist and talk about supply chain challenges. So you talked about a little bit of diversity on the panel, we're perhaps a little later stage, we're ready to launch in in the tail end of q4. So we're ready in the supply chain. We've got single use devices, which means you got to procure a lot of components in order to be able to ship and sell those, those single use single use kits. So we're seeing a lot of challenges there. I mean, certainly that's not overblown in terms of that, we've been fortunate and that we've been out ahead of the curve on that, to mitigate that we made a really substantial buy of some of the critical components. And we hired supply chain expertise, that really has helped us, I think, differentiate some internal capability in that way. But also, obviously mitigate the substantial risk there. So you put those two things together. Look, I've had, you know, multiple conversations today with prospective investors. And what they want to know is, you know, well, okay, classic sort of question use of proceeds and the like. And one of the things I'd like to point out speaking, as Burke had mentioned, about opportunity, I think capital likes to see that there's a direct correlation between the dollars that come in, if you will, and the impact that those can make. So I think part of the pitch to an investor is listen, if you've extinguished technology risk, if you've extinguished regulatory risk, if you believe strongly in the market, which we do that wants the product that we're developing, you can make a differentiation in terms of balance sheet strength, and then go be competitive in the marketplace to go get those those components. So good news is we know exactly where all the parts are, we know how to get them. Bad news is lead times are extraordinarily long, so you got to be out ahead of that, that takes balance sheet strength to be able to get and last point is that believe it or not, there's flippers, if you will, you know, that are squatting on on components, and then marking them up triple in commodity, you know, components or at least commodity components that in the in the normal times you would expect to be to be that way. Suggestions are that's the you know, all around the industry that the supply chain is starting to, you know, repair and fix itself as it as it is known to do. So there's some proverbial green shoots there. But that's it is a real challenge. And we've been facing it head on.


Carolina Aguilar  13:44  

Thank you. In our case, we were founded in 2020. So our life has been always hard. And that's great, because you know that that's the path. And at the end, we had to raise during COVID times via zoom, we had to hire during COVID times by zoom. And knowing that the purpose is common for investors, and enterpreneurs, which is saving lives, and knowing that we are here to do something more difficult and more innovative, that will exist at the end our responsibilities, find the path, find the path within the challenge, and make sure that you've built enough options and plans ABCDE. So at the end, you have a solution for the challenge you're facing. Right. So there's no other way.


Scott Pantel  14:35  

Okay, very good. So, let's get into it. Burke and I had a talk in the hall. I'm going to do it here. Burke. All right. We're going to be careful because we're all friends here. Okay, we're off. We're all friends here. We had a nice chat this morning. With with Dr. Bernt Montag and we talked about big problems that are out there. And what do we go after them We hear from investors we hear from strategics on what they're looking for. So I'd like to start it this way, let's make this open conversation, we can just, if you have something that's you have a burning desire, you can jump in. What do you look for in investors? What does this group look for in their board? In their partners? We hear everyone talking about the ideal entrepreneur and CEO, what's an ideal partner? For you, whether it's an investor, a board member, what are you looking for.


Carolina Aguilar  15:27  

So I look for complementary vision in a way that I might miss something that these people can bring to my attention, so I can evaluate it, I bring people that are constructive, this is a very long journey. So if you have painful boards, is not helpful. You know, we're here for this seven, five to 10 years, long way. So I need people that can build not destroyed, and I need challenge as well. So I don't mind toughness, I don't mind having healthy conflict. But at the end, we have to find a way come away where this is successful. So I think it's very important at the board that we also work on our self awareness that people don't come with their egos. And with, you know, we come with how humbleness and the purpose of solving the challenges and that there's a good fit of personalities that actually makes a healthy and productive board. And, you know, I wouldn't take and this sounds a little bit arrogant, but even if I would need all this money, I wouldn't take it from someone that wouldn't bring that that to the board. Because at the end, that's what's going to destroy it, eventually the company or you get fired, and then it's all right. But in in an ideal way, that's what I will look for. 


Scott Pantel  16:50  

So the big bag of money is not an automatic entry into the,


Carolina Aguilar  16:53  

I mean, with the other things, right? Because otherwise, what is what is this life for? If you have to be in pain all the time, you know, these words,


Scott Pantel  17:01  

We're gonna build up to the to the grand finale. What do you what are you guys looking for?


Bryan Lord  17:05  

Yeah, look, personal experience, I was in the semiconductor industry for a portion of my career. And we had in that particular startup that I was part of senior management, we had $5 billion funds. The board dynamic, as it turns out, was quite toxic. You had competition basically, with wise amongst the funds, you had this sort of reporting kind of dynamic, and this sort of what have you done for me lately, kind of kind of scenario. And, you know, as it was problematic for the company's functionality, and we were, you know, we're building an enterprise. And I think, you know, the, the easiest way for me to say it is an investor who wants to grab an or, you know, who recognizes that the competition is out there in the marketplace, that capital has a critical role to play, obviously, in the building of the enterprise. It provides fuel mix your metaphors as you wish but basically get in and let's help us move move forward. And there's, you know, it's not about reporting, it's not about you know, IRR, you know, targets that are being hit itself, it's ultimately about digging in and developing a differentiated enterprise and if you want to, you know, do that together, and we'd love to take the money and then, you know, row in the same direction.


Abtihal Raji-Kubba  18:18  

I think, for me, someone who brings in expertise is really critical, because basically we're getting I'd say free advice, but most importantly, the the the lens, they're seeing things through on their judging and making comments is is something that is exactly what we need. So they bring that to the table. But I think I would I will never say no to more money, but I will say it I say I don't want someone to reluctantly kind of come in one foot in one foot out and you know, want to fund the company because at the end of the day where on admission, we will have our ups and downs and we are looking for people who will be supportive, we will do the hard work. We know we believe we know what we're doing. Challenge us at a healthy level. In fact that that's that's very, that's the best thing you could do for us is challenge us, but for the purpose of elevating our game, not for the purpose of doubting what we're doing. So I think I look at the board as the people who are part of the team. Their roles are slightly different, but they are definitely they need to be part of the team. I would want not want to see them differently. 


Berk Tas  19:35  

I try I'll try to I, there's a lot of the stuff is already said. I'll try to add to it. I think for me, I feel like the best experiences I've had in my past has been with investors who have empathy, who care about A customer you're trying to serve, they have a level of understanding of the patient population, or the physicians that we serve. And, and or curiosity about us. So everyone's trying to make money, and I won't take anyone, I won't judge anybody for that. That's fair. And that's fine. We're in a capitalistic market that's appropriate. I think, to me, the most successful way to do that, and to partner with someone is a customer obsession. And what I found the most value is you have an investor who is also obsessed in your customer, who cares about them deeply, they don't have the time to learn everything about them. But they care about us. And they have the questions around the customer and how you serve them, because I believe, and the I've seen this workout, I do believe if you serve your customer, the patient or the or the physician, you're going to be successful. Right. And then there's other customers like the administrators, and how you charge economics, we all know that, you know, there's spreadsheets to do, there's a lot of grinding work to do. And that all, look, we're all here, we kind of know how to do that, right? That's kind of pay to play, you don't get to do this, if you don't know how to do that. So I don't necessarily worry that much about it. If they have an opinion, you know, I'd rather you have you do the budget this way or that way, I don't really care. I'm fine either way. But let's serve the customer. And that, to me is the best partnerships, that people who care about it. And I think what's hard, for me at least, is when you have people who want to go into a field, who wants to appear as though they understand it, and they got money, but they don't really understand the customer. They don't get it at all. And as an entrepreneur, it's really easy at times for me to agree with an egregious opinion about how to serve that customer that they don't know anything about. That's where I think the rubber meets the road. For you have to say before, look, that's not how that works. Right? We can learn to customer, I can teach you or you can go out. But you're not on the right track, or at least we're not an agreement. I think that's where it meets the rubber meets the road. You know, I won't say no to an investor, but I think it's an alignment situation. Are you aligned on the mission or not?


Bryan Lord  22:32  

Look, the spotlight. First word in the in the description is leadership. Right. And I think that a lot of times in the early stages of our careers, we think about boards as being kind of in this parenting role, right, that he's sort of got a report card, and that, you know, your your monthly check ins and how you're doing on all of your, you know, KPIs and the like. And I think that's not leadership to think about the organizational structure in that way that's really delegating to folks that are a degree of separation away from, as you mentioned, the customer and strategy. And to be in a mode where you're trying to, you know, please in that environment misses the obligation of leadership, I think the whole goal is to basically set the course, have a check and balance. Hughes, as you mentioned, the the resource to check in, we all have blind spots. But ultimately, you know, the way I think about it, in spite of the fact that you have you have this sort of organizational hierarchy, you know, our job is to be the captain of the of the ship and to be pushing, pushing forward on that. And I think that's a common mistake for particularly early or first time CEOs. Yeah,


Abtihal Raji-Kubba  23:42  

and maybe it maybe I'm asking for too much. But I do believe there's a trust relationship that has to be built between the you know, the company and the investors. And I, you know, as exactly just like, as you explained, right now, it's at the end of the day, you either Trust me, I can do the job, or you don't but, and that needs to be established upfront. I do believe listen, I mean, just working with my own team, I do believe there are many things they know. And I trust them. So that relationship is just we have to build on that model. Because ultimately, these are the most successful teams no matter where you put them.


Scott Pantel  24:17  

Okay, so we just talked about a couple of things as a perfect segue. So the title leadership, innovation, raising capital in a challenging market, this, there's a lot to do. It's a lot to do. And I often sit back. And I'll wonder I see CEOs of these innovative companies out spending so much time raising the capital of doing the things we're doing here. But we forget sometimes that you're still running a company and you're still innovating and you still have people you have teams that depend on you. And we this morning, we got to talk to burn montage 60,000 plus employees. That's a big organization but a lot of resources available to him. So it's a different, a different challenge there. How do you do it? How do you balance it? Do you ever find yourself on the wrong side? of the mix where you have to shift back. So it's a very open ended question, but it's more of a recognition for you here. How do you do it? How do you balance it all? We'll start with Brian.


Bryan Lord  25:12  

So we're just chatting about, you know, getting on stage, right, we've all been on stage many times, and I was just saying, you know, to put me on the spot, because he knew exactly the conversation we had in the hall, I felt terrible this morning, like I got up and just was, you know, just was not on my game and got to, you know, give a presentation, given the presentation 100 times. And, you know, you guys were in the audience, hopefully, it didn't show but it just was not, you know, it didn't feel like I was on my game. So some of it is just actually kind of powering through that, look, you know, we're in different time zones. at a board meeting, that I did not really think through that we wanted to keep on the schedule, but turns out, I was seven, you know, hours ahead of that with an evening board meeting a couple of days ago. So you're just upside down. So you got to, you know, put your head down and keep going. But I think you got to also give yourself a little grace and say, hey, you know, not every presentation that you're going to give Are you going to feel like you hit the bull's eye each time. And, you know, you give yourself some some latitude in those areas. at a different stage in my career, I might have, you know, beat myself up for something that clearly no by hope nobody necessarily sort of, you know, critiques you for that kind of stuff inside, you know, you say you got something to do and next to got, you know, staff to check in with you got emails to return investors to chat with folks to meet in the lobby me just, you know, keep plucking. So, that's not necessarily inspirational, but I think it's practical that, you know, there, there's, there's work to do. And so you just keep powering through.


Scott Pantel  26:48  

How do you do it?


Carolina Aguilar  26:48  

Well, first, I think you have to build the culture, because otherwise the culture will by itself. Right. And, and building the culture, for me is not a top down approach. I think culture is about trust, and it's about values. So then you have to build it with the people you work with. But you have to do it. So if you forget about it, then is when travel happens. So my biggest obsession is, is to have a committed group of people that share the purpose and half the culture that we have, who hire who we fire who promote, it is very important, it has to be very diligently treated. And then of course, as part of that we actually build this key contribution. So we don't call them goals, because at the end is a contribution, this is 010 sum game. So either we all win on the Euler way or lose, you know, isn't there's not going to be a co winner and a C do loser. So we have to build these key contributions that add up to the goals of the company. And we call our coding, so we know exactly where we are. And they are public to the whole organization. So everybody can see who's right, who's green, and what is what we need to still do to meet those goals. So so that already get us the people and the goals together. And then of course, there are always surprises, challenges you have to deal with. But at least you know that that everybody knows how to behave, what are the goals? And what is the operational mechanism to get what we need, we also put all those goals in the office and online because we are hybrid. So everybody is very clear about what are we here for what is what we have to achieve. So that helps because it's not me just doing it is everybody doing it at the same time, so I don't have to chase people because it's it's all there public for everybody. So it helps for challenge management.


Scott Pantel  28:45  

Anybody want to add that?


Abtihal Raji-Kubba  28:46  

Yeah, I think at least I can say for my team, as I think like Carolina described, my team is smaller. But I mean, there's clarity on what we need to do here. So there's never, you know, there's never doubt about what is on critical paths and what needs to happen. So whether I'm there or not, it's happening. Now, if you ask me practically, we're a small team, they would the team, I mean, I would feel really good about helping them on daily basis to move things along and, you know, have my hands deeper into everything compared to going out and, you know, raising funds. However, just like I trust my team that they are executing to the plans, we've agreed to making sure everything on critical path is happening. They've entrusted me with doing this reaching out to the investor community and making sure we are we have this continuation, you know, continuity with the company. So it is you can ask me, Is it the best use of time I have to tell you, there are days I says the best use of my time today, and there are days I say oh my gosh, I need to go and help the team get over this or that. So depending on the day, I probably have a different Ask her for you what at the end of the day, I do know both of them are important. I trust the team, they'll do what they need to do. I trust that a building relationships with investors and future investors is part of the story. So and I need to so we need to build that part of the team the same time.


Berk Tas  30:19  

Yeah, I think that one piece, I would add, my personal experience I, I find the the teams that can do this kind of work, where the CEO is out fundraising a lot of the times and some of the context doesn't get back to the team, because Bernd made a great point, right, he gets to speak to the president of Kenya, I don't get to speak the president of Kenya. But I talked to the customers, I talked to investors, I have a different view of what the field wants to see. I can't download all that constantly. But what I find that helps is you hire a team that knows how to learn, and makes learning a big objective. And I don't mean, you know, they take classes or going to school or whatever, it's, it's this mentality of, there's no such thing as pass or fail. There's just a way to learn, and you learn faster than anyone else. The reason we get to do amazing things with low, we got the FDA clearance on a world's first device for $7 million. The reason you get to do that is your people know how to learn. And they learn faster than anyone else. And there's no politics, because there's a mission to accomplish. So that is what I would add is yes, team is actually important. For me, the ingredient comes from finding people who value learning, they're not anxious about not knowing the answer. And a lot of people are. So this kind of business isn't great for everybody. You know, I've seen people, their lives just struggle, and they're having a horrible time and a startup, everyone's having fun. But they're having a horrible time, because the unknown is really painful for them. So I think that was the insight, I would share from my personal experience. To add the color to what everyone says,


Scott Pantel  32:18  

That's great. Let's add to that the whole finding people thing we we briefly talked about it this morning about a limited amount of resources that are out there. We talked about it again, in a panel today. I know that there's different models, Brian has an interesting model, both internal and external. I'm sure we depend on people outside of organism but how is it right now? Is the how's the talent pool out there? Is it the same? Is it the same? Is it getting more challenging in general, our the human resources out there all come back to the people we talked about so much. But it all comes back to the team and the people, how's it going out there with respect to your teams and finding new people.


Carolina Aguilar  32:54  

So what we have done is go where the talent is, and not pretend that every talented people is where we are. Right? So that's the first principle just if they are in US, they're in US if they're in Malaysia, they're in Malaysia. And as a result of the 48 people that we have, we have people from 14 Different countries working remote and on site. Because, yeah, the world, I mean, we I cannot serve a team that is going to build the most revolutionary metric from Barcelona, that will be unrealistic. So and then you have to find these people that fit the culture, you want to build, that they have the continuous learning, they have the hunger. So you know, the filtering gets a little bit tougher, but eventually, also with great recruiters that are here as well. You make it


Scott Pantel  33:47  

There's a few here. 


Carolina Aguilar  33:48  

Exactly. And when Yeah, we need help. But if you know what you want you you get it, it's just that it's not right there around the corner.


Bryan Lord  33:59  

We followed a similar model. Dave, my colleague who's here, borrow his phrase, we started using Zoom before using Zoom was cool. So we had this distributed model where you basically bring on folks on your team where they are, as opposed to relocating them to the greater Boston area. We also have used the technique, this is not my phrase, either. So two borrowed phrases hired by an audition. I don't know who to attribute that to. But we've used that effectively. We have found that not only with the willingness to have some geographical diversity, but a really effective way for us to have scaled over the course of the development of pristine is to engage high quality professionals but on a fractional basis. So you start out get to know each other, you might engage as a consultant for you know, a day a week, and maybe that's the right configuration and you continue in that sort of in the in the US vernacular in that 1099 kind of fashion for Due to time and you know, definitely or you, you know, say, Hey, we've kind of run our course on things. Oftentimes, what's happened is that those types of relationships expand. And as long as you have an open dialogue with the other party and say, Listen, when we start to get too overwhelming, what the engagement is in what our deal is, let's tweak it, and let's, let's adjust it. And so we've gone with folks where we've had, you know, a couple of hours a month to now you know, full time w two is, and I think that's reduced the uncertainty in the sort of binary form of hiring where, you know, you're either gonna go through an entire interview process, and it lowers the risk around that. So tip that's that's worked very well, for us.


Carolina Aguilar  35:42  

Only thing is that that requires, we also upgrade our leadership skills, I don't think it's the same to deal with what we know than with word, it's new, and that, that they said de learning, which is the hardest, it's harder to learn than learn.


Abtihal Raji-Kubba  35:59  

I think making sure that whoever you hire, understand this is not the corporate world you're moving into this is a startup. And oh, my goodness, I've seen the difference. I mean, and again, I ran.


Scott Pantel  36:10  

How many years at bark?


Abtihal Raji-Kubba  36:12  

20 years. And Bard was decentralized. So it wasn't a large corporation. BD was very big company. But I ran Nutanix, which was a startup we acquired by CR Bard. And it was a very small company to try integrate them into, you know, the the larger corporation, you see the differences. But the only way, the only reason those tonics was very successful is because we maintain that entrepreneurial, you know, environment, and we decided, no, we're only hiring people from startups to join Nutanix. Because you've got to maintain that spirit of we're going to go out and do it. Yes, it hasn't been done. And we're going to put the hours and we will be successful.


Berk Tas  36:53  

One point, I will add a quote, Joe here, bring in force multipliers. I think that's a huge, huge component of hiring, you know, you got to educate your board, I think, where there's this notion of salary bands and things like that there are boxes and people fit in these nice boxes. And, look, you're not creating a box, you're building something that no one has done. Forget about the boxes, right? Who who is going to allow you to attract more talent, who's passionate about your vision, obviously, talent has to be there. And you're going to pull these people from a different job. Right? So I think we as CEOs need to go to bat and say, I don't really care about not in this way, do it far more elegantly, plus, your bands or whatever you have, on your mind, forget those. And understand that we're building something that when you put one, you're going to get 358 In return, and those people are going to attract other talented people, because look talented people want to work with talented people, period.


Bryan Lord  38:08  

I think I like that phrase, the force multiplier, I think that's exactly right. Equally important, are doers. There's no opportunity for middle management. No, really no opportunity for upper management, a lot of ways when you look at you know, having absolutely your own slide decks, it's just 100% of growth that needs to be done, right. And so if you have people that are interested in, you know, hierarchy and structure and, you know, delegation and reporting that's not consistent with hustle with doing. And I think that DNA to me is far more important. It doesn't matter background look, we'd love to have folks come in from this week, as we have, you know, Stryker and Medtronic and others. But the common thread is, you know, there's no ceremony, there's, you know, but get stuff done. And that means rolling up your own sleeves.


Berk Tas  38:58  

Now, I always think of it like a SEAL team. It's very focused, very small, but even the medic knows how to go to battle. So it's not the, you know, the army ship where there's army cook, and that's what they do. You can't have that. In a startup. You got to have people who are specialized understand the mission have been training their whole lives, even if you bring a junior person, right. They've been living, they've been growing, they know how to learn, and they're part of that mission. They can pick up a shovel when the time comes. 


Scott Pantel  39:29  

Very good. So I want to I want to end with something practical. I've been joking since last night a little bit with the Sofinnova conversation that we had, they have 2.5 billion assets under management management. And we've got 100 companies here that are raising about 2.5 billion. We talk about you know, money comes in, what do we get out? You've all been invited here because you're incredible innovators, and we really believe in what you're doing here. So we know that you're going to achieve your goals. Let's, we can jump in whoever wants to jump in first, what's your current? Let's be practical here. What's your current capital raise situation? And where does it get the company? You get what you're going for today? Where can it take your company? What does an investor see? In your in your development.


Carolina Aguilar  40:17  

Yeah. So we have one more year of cash. So we wanted to get the right people on board. And with that, we are going to put graphene in the brain of a human being for the first time in the world. So we know that that's going to bring the material to the next level, we already know the potential, and what it gives us and the safety that it brings. So it's very exciting to see it in action in, in helping someone with a tumor, for instance, in our case, and also subcortical II. So that's the only thing we're focusing on bringing that first thing human in.


Bryan Lord  40:55  

Right? Yeah, so we're raising a $10 million extension on our on our current round, that will accelerate our platform expansion. So I mentioned that we're launching an arthroscopy, but we already have a single use laparoscope, as well as a single use flexible platform that's under development. And so we can modulate a bit, you know, in terms of applying new capital to platform expansion. But that will accelerate basically our moves into those additional new markets. And so that's a priority for us right now, because we think that's a competitive advantage. So if we were to be sticking to our knitting and thinking as as sort of a one trick pony, if you will, and single product company, we'd be thinking a whole lot more conservatively about capital raising. Now, that might be what's called for, it seems in this crazy capital raising environment. But we also think, look, you know, there's 200 reports are $270 billion of capital that's sitting allocated from the limited partners, it's sitting in the hands of general partners throughout all sectors right in the marketplace. And that capital, you know, needs to find a home, by the same token, so it's a strange, you know, dynamic. I think, if you tell a story, that's a compelling story, and you're committed to that that sort of vision, there is on the flip side of this challenging capital raising environment, the the numbers are real, there's a lot of capital there. And so that's a strange duality that we find ourselves in here at the tail end of 2022. So you know, our mission is to do both, it's to be sort of judicious. But then also, you know, show the vector that we're heading to. And I think that investors want to see a big vision at the same time,


Abtihal Raji-Kubba  42:43  

We're raising 10 million series, a 5 million of it is committed, and what that will do will actually get the product approved and available to female patients out there. That will take us through the IDE denovo clinical trial on FDA approval.


Berk Tas  43:02  

Thank you. I want to thank you. For one thing, if I don't get a chance, thanks for also putting together a diverse panel, women and men, I appreciate that. I have a daughter, and I've been more interested in this topic lately. I should probably have been always but I have a small


Scott Pantel  43:20  

Get on it, Burke.


Berk Tas  43:22  

So I wanted to thank you. 


Scott Pantel  43:24  

My pleasure. 


Berk Tas  43:25  

We're raising up to six, we're at 4.2 right now. And by the time we're done spending the money we raised, we will prove that people use what we developed, and they buy it. We're targeting 30 centers initially. And we'll have more publications to clearly articulate the benefits we provide. And then the next step from there, either is going into m&a or raising a scale round with multiple partners.


Scott Pantel  43:59  

Very good. Well, I want to thank all of the CEOs up here who are out there innovating making the world better place thanks for the event is you the event the content is is all of you that are out there taking chances. It's an honor to be on stage with you, when I encourage everybody to get to know the CEOs more and thank you for joining us this afternoon.


LSI USA '24 is filling fast. Secure your spot today to join Medtech and Healthtech leaders in Dana Point.


Share this video

Companies We Work With