A group of medtech insiders gathered in Boston last night to talk shop, share stories and glean insight from some of the industry’s brightest minds at MassDevice’s DeviceTalks East conference.
Following animated panel sessions on legal trends, "truths" in marketing, medtech connectivity and business strategy best practices, leaders from companies ranging from blood management to bionics took to the stage to share sometimes intimate stories of victory and regret.
The main event was kicked off by Kips Bay Medical (NSDQ:KIPS) founder and CEO Manny Villafaña, a serial entrepreneur and inventor who also founded St. Jude Medical (NYSE:STJ), Guidant and a string of other companies.
In a personal account of his "trials and tribulations," he talked about growing up in the Bronx surrounded by heroin and crack dealers, saying that he truly "started at the bottom." Villafaña showed headlines about his hometown that detailed the terrible conditions in the city, telling the audience that innovation can come from anywhere.
"If you can make it out of that, you have no excuse," he said. "You can really do it."
Villafaña returned to the stage later to sit alongside fellow industry leaders who each shared one of their biggest career mistakes.
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From left to right: Haemonetics president & CEO Brian Concannon; Kips Bay founder & CEO Manny Villafaña; MassDevice executive editor Brad Perriello; Insulet president & CEO Duane DeSisto; BiOM CEO Dr. Charles Carignan; and North Bridge Venture Partners general partner Carmichael Roberts.
Insulet (NSDQ:PODD) president & CEO Duane DeSisto said that missed out by passing on an opportunity years ago to lead Haemonetics (NYSE:HAE), laughing as he told fellow panelist and Haemonetics president & CEO Brian Concannon that he had made a mistake in failing to see the company’s vision in its earlier days.
Other panelists also shared stories of missed opportunities, failures to voice misgivings about important transactions (that later failed) and over-reliance on personal knowledge rather than leveraging the expertise of the executive team.
Villafaña also had the last word for the evening, offering advice for new entrepreneurs and emphasizing the importance of surrounding yourself with good people.
"Don’t be afraid to go after the very best," he said.