ASA brings popular session to NOLA
Check out new inventions and how to take a novel product from prototype to sales
SPE31A – FAER Swimming with Sharks
Saturday, October 22 | 3:45-5 p.m.
Anesthesiologists have a long and storied history of innovation and entrepreneurship. But the translation from invention to market is an uncertain process. The ever-popular Swimming with Sharks, brought to you by the Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research, can help boost the odds of success – and provide entertaining, enlightening glimpses into some of the most innovative minds in the field today.
“The idea goes back to Theodore Stanley, MD, an anesthesiologist who invented the fentanyl lollipop to treat cancer pain,” said Sean Runnels, MD, Associate Professor of Anesthesiology at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. “It took three launches to find its value, its niche in the market. Swimming with Sharks can help refine ideas and products earlier in development and get them to market sooner.”
Dr. Runnels, Swimming with Sharks Co-Chair, is a past winner who was recognized for his steerable bougie. It’s now on the market from Through The Cords LLC, where he is Chief Executive Officer.
“The idea is to have inventors, entrepreneurs, pitch their ideas to a live audience as if they were presenting to potential investors,” said Co-Chair and one-time contestant Barrett Larson, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology, Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, California. “None of it is rehearsed, and it’s a great way to get feedback from an audience of peers. This kind of public presentation can open a lot of doors.”
Expect multiple product pitches interspersed with tales from the real world about what works to move a novel product from prototype to sales. And, more importantly, what doesn’t work. On average, about one in 10 medical device startups actually brings a product to market, Dr. Runnels said. Swimming with Sharks winners are beating the average despite commercial hiccups such as the COVID-19 pandemic, which slowed his own product rollout.
“One of the things you have to work out as an entrepreneur is whether you’re solving a real problem or a pet peeve that other people have already solved 24 ways from Sunday,” he said. “Pitching your solution to a real audience helps you figure out the difference.”
The concept of commercialization itself is an important barrier, he said. Too many clinicians see artificial barriers between idea, prototype, and product – a leap from the clinical world they know into the black box of business. In reality, meeting an unmet clinical need and bringing it to market is a practical exercise in translational science, an established, understandable, and reproducible process.
“I’ve presented in the past and I’ve been a shark in the past, on the receiving end of pitches,” Dr. Larson said. “Putting your idea, and yourself, out there makes you look at your basic assumptions. And being part of this, making pitches, fielding them, or watching in the audience, you get a look at ideas that are 10, 20 years into the future. Whether or not these particular ideas make it to market, we are all seeing a different future, different ways to solve problems we may not even realize we’re facing every day. Swimming with Sharks is entertaining, it’s fun, and it opens your mind to possibilities that just might spark your own ideas.”
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