Kevin Conroy knew he was taking a risk when he became CEO of Exact Sciences: The company had twice failed to develop screening tests for colorectal cancer, and it was light on cash.
But as he explained in a recent LinkedIn blog post, he had three friends diagnosed with colorectal cancer around the same time: “While the company didn’t look like much on the surface, the feeling something was there wouldn’t leave me.”
Ten years later, Exact Sciences’ Cologuard non-invasive screening test has provided screening for more than 2 million people in the U.S. The company saw $454 million in revenue in 2018 and expects to bring in up to $740 million this year — with nearly 2,000 workers and construction of a second laboratory underway in its home city of Madison, Wis. (The company is even scouting for a third lab site.)
Exact Sciences (Nasdaq: EXAS) hasn’t been turning profits. But investors expect that to change: The company’s stock is trading around $100 per share, about four times its early 2015 selling price.
During a lunchtime keynote yesterday at the Medtech Conference in downtown Minneapolis, Conroy shared some of the lessons that helped him along the way.