By Mary Vanac
CleveX Inc., a start-up that’s created a device to make it easier to do skin biopsies, received the second half of a $1.7 million Series B round.
Investors wanted to break their commitment into two equal tranches “to make sure the company continued its progress toward full commercialization,” said Sam Finkelstein, who took over as CleveX CEO last July.
CleveX makes ExiClip — a device that uses a hook to raise the skin, then quickly snips off a lesion for a biopsy and seals the wound with a metal clip, which is removed in about two weeks.
Founded in 2004 by Cleveland Clinic Innovations and IDx Medical Ltd. of Cincinnati, CleveX began to market its device last year to dermatologists who could use it to take skin biopsies. But dermatologists were slow to adopt the device, which was cleared for sale by the Food & Drug Administration in May 2007.
The company changed its target market focus after Finkelstein arrived.
“We shifted our focus to primary care physicians, and OB/GYN and internal medicine physicians,” he said. “It’s been very successful for us."
For primary care physicians, “we can eliminate suturing,” Finkelstein said.
“This is a suture-less product that dramatically reduces the amount of time for the procedures,” he said, adding that CleveX developed a disposable skin hook to add to the ExiClip package.
Finkelstein described the target market change as one of two pivotal events for CleveX in the last year. The other was signing PSS Physician Sales & Service, a publicly traded company based in Jacksonville, Fla., as its exclusive U.S. distributor. At the time, PSS had more than 700 field sales representatives, 41 sales regions and 29 distribution centers.
The 12-employee company will use the second tranche of the B round to continue its sales growth. By the end of February, it had trained 85 percent of the PSS sales force.
“We’ve made good progress,” Finkelstein said. “We have about 800 new using customers now. We will continue to build inventories.”
Now that CleveX has a national distributor, it’s looking for “other market opportunities … which would include hospital and international markets,” he said.