3 Tips for a Successful MedTech Startup

Self-taught serial entrepreneur Rudy Mazzocchi shares his unique perspective on medtech startups.

 Rudy Mazzocchi
Rudy A. Mazzocchi

Rudy Mazzocchi isn't your average serial entrepreneur. Despite having no formal business training, Mazzocchi has managed to parlay a background in biochemistry and biophysics into a successful business career that has launched a bevy of thriving startups acquired by the likes of Medtronic and St. Jude.

Currently serving as CEO of Elenza, an early-stage company developing what it claims is the world's first electronic autofocal itraocular lens, Mazzocchi boasts the honors of being named one of Ernst & Young's 2004 Entrepreneurs of the Year and the Business Intelligence Group's 2013 Entrepreneur of the Year. And if these career achievements weren't enough, he also writes medical thrillers in his spare time.

Mazzocchi's nontraditional and diverse background has helped to shape an entrepreneurial approach that isn't by the book. "From my historical perspective, there’s a cycle to my development of these companies that differs from what is classically taught in school," according to Mazzocchi, who will be delivering a keynote at the upcoming MD&M West trade show on Tuesday, February 11.

Among the lessons learned in his off-the-beaten-path entrepreneurial journey are:

Raise only what you need. Excessive capital can challenge the discipline of a management team, according to Mazzocchi. Instead, entrepreneurs should concentrate on how to make the most effective use of available capital. 

Beware of fixed overhead. "As we’ve seen in this environment, we as CEOs of these early-stage companies need the ability to dial down or throttle up or accelerate our development efforts based on how much capital resources we have," Mazzocchi says. "And if you have too much fixed overhead, you can’t do that. And that’s what kills a lot of companies." Outsourcing, he notes, serves as a valuable means of shifting fixed costs to variable costs.

Perfect the story. Mazzocchi credits much of his success as an entrepreneur to being able to craft a compelling story and then effectively adapt it for every audience. "I can always point in all of my failures to where the story fell apart," he says. "That story has to be tight and right for not only your investors, but for your management team, your family members, every one you touch. That story has to be honed in a certain way to make sure they’re there to join you on your journey."

Learn more about Mazzocchi's entrepreneurial journey and the secrets to his medtech success during his keynote presentation at MD&M West on February 11.

  —Shana Leonard, group editorial director, medical content

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