3 Important Lessons From Pioneering Medtech Entrepreneurs

Unraveling important insights from visionaries in the medical device industry.

Scott Nelson, Co-founder and CEO

June 21, 2023

5 Min Read
Image Credit: Thapana Onphalai via iStock/Getty Images

The medtech sphere thrives on bold trailblazers eager to reshape healthcare with technology. I know this firsthand as the CEO and co-founder of FastWave Medical and the founder of Medsider where I have the privilege of regularly engaging in eye-opening discussions with industry leaders.

Join me as we unravel the insights from three such visionaries – Justin Barad, CEO of Osso VR, Jim Biggins, CEO of Access Vascular, and Derek Herrera, CEO of Bright Uro – who overcame significant challenges to push their fields forward with innovation.

Unique Roots, Unified Mission

Justin, Derek, and Jim all specialize in different medtech areas, fueled by their diverse passions and backgrounds.

Justin, a gamer-turned-orthopedic-surgeon, merged these seemingly irreconcilable worlds in Osso VR, implementing virtual reality in surgical training. Yet, as Justin wisely highlights, innovation requires more than passion — it demands resilience.

Derek, a military veteran, and his career path are a true testament to the transformative power of personal experience. In his words: "I was desperate for solutions...and I felt that this was my unique calling in life — to leverage the problems I suffer from and to design innovative solutions."

Jim, an ambitious entrepreneur with vast experience in engineering, business development, and sales, founded Access Vascular to address intravenous therapy complications. His approach is deeply rooted in his interdisciplinary background.

What they all have in common is they not only know how to leverage their personal experiences, but they also understand how to get the ball rolling when it comes to funding a venture and charting its course to success. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned based on their journeys.

1. Building a Winning Core Team

The team is the beating heart of any startup. A group of people unified in vision, diversified in skills, and relentless in their pursuit of innovation is often the deciding factor between a revolutionary breakthrough and a good idea that never quite materializes.

When I asked Justin how he recruits top talent in the early stages of a startup, he explained that “one of the most powerful ways to attract top talent is to have a compelling story and mission that resonates with potential hires." It's the allure of being part of something greater, a strong mission that can magnetize exceptional individuals.

But Justin also emphasizes the importance of humility in this process, advising to hire "people smarter than you" so that you have a dynamic team where you can delegate responsibilities and focus on the bigger picture by making strategic decisions that fuel growth.

Jim’s approach to cultivating a high-functioning team is to immerse yourself in their roles to better support them. He considers shadowing physicians and nurses early in development projects as the catalyst for understanding decision-making processes.

Similarly, Derek underlines team resilience. "The biggest contributors to success in the medtech space are a bulletproof business case, the right team, and execution," he says. What you need is a group that's not just competent but equally tenacious.

2. Fueling the Venture: Fundraising and Commercialization

For a CEO, two prominent challenges often tower above others – raising funds and executing a successful commercialization strategy. Each demands a meticulous approach, blending careful planning with relatable narratives, as well as a deep understanding of the market and its regulatory dynamics.

A key factor in raising capital, as Justin stresses, is telling a compelling story: "The decision to invest is subjective and emotional. It's not always about checking all the boxes and hitting all the metrics." He emphasizes the need for businesses to make their technology "relatable, exciting, important, urgent, and most critically, realistically huge."

However, as a startup matures, metrics gain prominence. After a point, you need to efficiently educate investors about the company's fundamentals, the problem you’re solving, and the solution you offer. In Justin’s case, the challenge was raising money amidst a global pandemic where people abstained from putting things on their faces and overcoming the perception of VR being merely a 'toy.' To overcome such challenges, you need to understand your customer needs, continuously fine-tune the business model, and avoid premature scaling, Justin advises.

Jim’s mantra is a clearly defined vision and a realistic plan to achieve it: "At Access Vascular, we were able to demonstrate the substantial value of our technology with early bench data. Having a compelling story, early data to support it, or strong signals for success and a realistic plan for how to achieve it is what it came down to for us.” When it comes to commercialization, Jim advises a judicious, targeted approach, giving you a chance to learn what works without carrying a full commercial spend.

Derek lays out sage advice as well: build a product that your audience can’t resist, gather a star team, and make it happen. He suggests considering licensing options for the benefit of both parties. He also underscores aligning clinical and regulatory strategies with your overall business plan, emphasizing that, "Your company will live or die based on the strength of your data."

3. Staying Ahead in the Medtech Space

Medtech is an exceptionally dynamic industry. As you navigate through its rapid waters as a CEO, you eventually develop instincts to anticipate changes. But before that, there are some rules of thumb you can follow to stay ahead of the game.

Justin’s advice to budding entrepreneurs is to remain connected with customers, be adaptable, and celebrate small victories on the way. As he looks ahead, he’s very excited about the science fiction-like technologies emerging from Osso VR’s efforts.

Jim is focused on growth and committed to taking advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead for Access Vascular. He advises aspiring life sciences leaders to deliberately seek practical experience in diverse fields.

And lastly, Derek stresses the importance of focusing on the company's critical drivers and committing to executing a solid business plan.

As we strive to make a difference in the medtech industry, I think it’s paramount that we learn from each other and draw inspiration from each other’s successes. The future of the medical device space is brimming with potential, and with the right approach, determination, and vision, we can shape it for the better.


Scott Nelson is the co-founder and CEO of FastWave Medical, a medical device start-up developing intravascular lithotripsy systems. He’s also the Founder of Medsider, where he interviews founders and CEOs of promising, early-stage medical device and health technology companies.

About the Author(s)

Scott Nelson

Co-founder and CEO

Scott Nelson is the co-founder and CEO of FastWave Medical, a medical device startup developing intravascular lithotripsy systems for cardiovascular disease. Additionally, he’s the founder of Medsider, where he interviews founders and CEOs of promising, early-stage medical device and health technology companies. As a medtech growth architect, he founded and scaled Joovv from $0 to over $20M in profitable revenue in less than 3 years. Prior to that, Scott held various leadership roles at fast-growing startups and multinational strategics, including Touch Surgery, Medtronic, Covidien, Boston Scientific, and C.R. Bard.

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