BackTable / Innovation / Podcast / Episode #28
Slow Burn Physician Entrepreneur: Lessons Learned
with Dr. James Mitchell
Radiation oncologist Dr. James Mitchell joins the BackTable Innovation podcast to discuss the development and acquisition of his medical devices; first, an integrated needle/guidewire system called Redsmith, and then a smart vascular access port called Oncodisc.
BackTable, LLC (Producer). (2022, June 3). Ep. 28 – Slow Burn Physician Entrepreneur: Lessons Learned [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from https://www.backtable.com
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Dr. James Mitchell
Dr. James Mitchell is a radiation oncologist and the CMO at Veris Health, and previously the co-founder and CEO of Redsmith and then Oncodisc.
Dr. Bryan Hartley
Dr. Bryan Hartley is a practicing radiologist, host of the BackTable Innovation series, and co-founder of Pulmera in Palo Alto, CA.
In this episode, physician-entrepreneur and radiation oncologist Dr. James Mitchell joins our host Dr. Bryan Hartley to discuss the development and acquisition of his medical devices– first, an integrated needle/guidewire system called Redsmith, and then a smart vascular access port called Oncodisc.
Dr. Mitchell first explains how he met his co-founder, interventional radiologist Andy Thoreson, while they were both practicing medicine at the Keesler Air Force base. They connected due to common interests in business and investing. Eventually, they began to discuss clinical needs that they saw in their everyday lives and potential devices to address them. To protect their medical device ideas, they filed IPs and addressed patents to a company, rather than themselves as individuals. Dr. Mitchell emphasizes that this method is highly favorable when there are multiple inventors of a device, since assigning the patent to a separate entity will prevent legal issues and de-risk the business for future acquirers. When forming a new company, Dr. Mitchell believes that good corporate governance is key. This involves asking fundamental questions about the business goals, location of incorporation, type of corporation, and fundraising strategies. Eventually, Drs. Mitchell and Thoreson launched Redsmith, which was purchased by BD. Due to external factors, the purchase took two years.
Next, the co-founders embarked on a mission to develop Oncodisc, a port that would automatically notify doctors when cancer patients’ physiological signs indicated high risk for sepsis. Dr. Mitchell described a new mindset for this second product– He wanted to build a business out of this technology instead of selling it to a larger company. Taking a product through commercialization would allow him to have more influence over the final product and result in a larger impact on the healthcare system. Additionally, he wanted to explore applications of Oncodisc beyond cancer care, since ports are utilized in many chronic conditions such as end-stage renal disease and congestive heart failure. What started as a simple addition to chemotherapy ports became a larger digital health mission.
Finally, Dr. Mitchell discusses the mechanics of his fundraising process. The seed round mainly included friends and colleagues who were clinicians, since they recognized the utility of Oncodisc. Having this network of investors also allowed the co-founders to obtain clinical advice during R&D. The subsequent Series A round presented different challenges, since Dr. Mitchell was presenting to investors from highly specialized business backgrounds, and little clinical expertise. He had to learn how to address extensive questions over regulatory strategy and effectively communicate his clinical ideas during his pitches. Dr. Mitchell ends the episode by advising entrepreneurs to expand their networks to include people of all different professions and valuable, diverse insights.
Society of Physician Entrepreneurs:
UCSF Rosenman Institute:
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