Medsider Radio: Learn from Medtech and Healthcare Experts

The Importance of Medical Device Sales Experience, the Rocket Ship that was Acclarent, and How to Achieve Personal Growth as a Medtech Leader: Interview with Bill Facteau, President and CEO of Earlens

January 09, 2017 Scott Nelson
Medsider Radio: Learn from Medtech and Healthcare Experts
The Importance of Medical Device Sales Experience, the Rocket Ship that was Acclarent, and How to Achieve Personal Growth as a Medtech Leader: Interview with Bill Facteau, President and CEO of Earlens
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Medsider Radio: Learn from Medtech and Healthcare Experts
The Importance of Medical Device Sales Experience, the Rocket Ship that was Acclarent, and How to Achieve Personal Growth as a Medtech Leader: Interview with Bill Facteau, President and CEO of Earlens
Jan 09, 2017
Scott Nelson

Bill Facteau joined Earlens Corporation as Chairman, President, and CEO in November of 2013. Most recently, he was the Vice Chairman of ExploraMed, a medical device incubator based on the West Coast and an Entrepreneur in Residence at New Enterprise Associates. Previously, Bill was at Johnson & Johnson from early 2010 through early 2012 as...[read more]

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Show Notes Transcript

Bill Facteau joined Earlens Corporation as Chairman, President, and CEO in November of 2013. Most recently, he was the Vice Chairman of ExploraMed, a medical device incubator based on the West Coast and an Entrepreneur in Residence at New Enterprise Associates. Previously, Bill was at Johnson & Johnson from early 2010 through early 2012 as...[read more]

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Scott Nelson:   0:08
Welcome to Med Cider, where you can learn from experienced medical device and med tech experts through uncut and unedited interviews. Now here's your host, Scott Nelson. Hey there, ladies and gents, welcome to another edition of Med Cider Radio brought you from the W. C. G studios here in Minneapolis. If you're new to the program meant side of radio is where we learn from med tech and other health care thought leaders through uncut and unedited interviews. Just a few quick messages before we get started. First, I sent out a free email newsletter about once per month, highlighting my favorite med tech and or health care related stories, the one that I personally get a lot of value from. I don't send the newsletter out very often, but when I do, I really try to make sure it's valuable. So if you're interested, head on over to met cider dot com and enter your email address as a bonus, I'll send you a free e book on the strategies I personally used to make connections at conferences. I think you'll find the book pretty useful. And while you're online, head on over to iTunes and radar show a five star rating would really help us out. Second, for those of you that subscribe to the email newsletter, you're probably aware of this. But I recently joined the MedTech practice of W. C. G, a fully integrated marketing agency. So if you're looking for some marketing help, there's a few reasons you should consider our firm first were entirely focused on Med tech. Second, our wheelhouse is analytics, which drives all of our recommendations. And third, we're fully integrated, which means you don't have to source capabilities from another shop. So if you have a project in mind that you'd like to discuss, hit me up at Scott at med cider dot com again that Scott at med cider dot com. And lastly, speaking of marketing to generate more awareness for some of these interviews, I've recently started using a pretty unique system called pan optic stacking from the team over. Reach fire digital. I know Pan optic stacking. It sounds sophisticated, right? Well, to be honest, it sort of is. But let me try and explain. First, they validated some of my messaging in real time and developed an automated customer pathway based on my audience. Your bedside, then utilizing something called eco marketing. They're using behavioral targeting to move that same audience through a customized online journey. After executing my personalized pan optics back, I'm already seeing a really nice impact, and I'll share some of those results in future episodes. So if you're interested in learning more about the system, the team over reach fire. Digital has agreed to build a custom pan optic stacking blueprint for the 1st 15 men cider listeners that respond to this message. We normally charge 2500 bucks to build one blueprint, but because they're big fans of med cider, they're giving it to our 1st 15 listeners for free. So go to reach fire. Digital dot com Ford slash med cider again us. Reach fire digital dot com Ford slash med Cider Grab that blueprint okay onto the upset everyone on today's episode, we've got Bill Facto, who joined Ireland's corporation is chairman, president and CEO in November of 2013. Most recently, he was the vice chairman of Explore Meant a medical device incubator based on the West Coast and as an entrepreneur in residence at New Enterprise Associates. Previous to this bill was at Johnson and Johnson from early 2010 through early 2012 as worldwide presidents of their E n T division Factor joined J and J V the $800 million acquisition of a clearance where he served as president, CEO and a member of the board of directors since the company's formation in 2004. Under builds leadership, the company went from concept to acquisition in 5.5 years, raised over $100 million created jobs for approximately 400 employees, grew revenues to $100 million became profitable. Prior to joining a claret, Bill was the general manager of the endovascular division at Abbott, where he served as a member of the executive team and created the entry strategy for Abbott to participate in the peripheral vascular space. He joined Abbott via the $683 million acquisition of Per Clothes, which was a vessel closure company where he was the sales director from July 1993 Through early 1998 Bill worked in a number of sales in sales management positions at United States Surgical Corporation or otherwise known as A U. S Surgical here the things we're gonna cover in the interview. How Bill and his team celebrated after a Clarence was acquired by J and J Bill's current role at your lens, that technology they develop and how they intend to commercialize it. What brought Bill into the medical device space with US Surgical back in the early 19 nineties? And how Bill's MedTech sales experience has impacted the rest of his career? What med Tech entrepreneurs can learn from Bill's experience helping to build a clearance from the ground floor mindshare and comfort zones? Bill's advice and had experience personal growth as a leader in med Tech. People product an opportunity and what they mean to build as a med tech exec, his thoughts on the regulatory and reimbursement environments and why he loves the director patient approach. They're taking it your lands and lastly, Bill's favorite book, the CEO he admires most and what he tell his 25 year old self. So without further ado, let's get to the interview with Bill facto bill. Welcome to the Met Centre program. Appreciate you coming on. Let's go and dig in. They'll take us back to that late 2009 sort of early 2010 time frame when J and J acquired a Clarence. I know you were employee number four with the Clarin back in, I think 2004 that was a huge win for Clarence. As as most people that are listening. No, I'm not only for its investors, but, you know, all of the Clarin employees as well. So, considering you know, you spent six years there or so you know, building that ship. Do you remember how you celebrated with with your team?

Bill Facteau:   5:11
Yeah. I mean, we've had a lot of celebration over the years with Dean, but, you know, I think this is one of the things that way. Probably didn't celebrate much until, you know, after it was all said and done. And, you know, we many of us stayed on for a few years to make sure that the business was transitioned over. But there were a few off sites on, you know, certainly a couple of social gatherings. I mean, I think the beauty about Karen and the management team was it really was, ah, high functioning team. And we all got along very well. So there's been plenty of celebrations and, you know, closing dinners and you know other things over the years. So it was a great experience.

Scott Nelson:   5:48
I can imagine. It was especially considering the size of the acquisition and sort of reliving some of those some of those memories over the course of those five or six years. But on that note, we're certainly gonna dig into your service story MedTech career across several different companies. But before we go there, that sort of level set things for the audience. You're currently the president CEO of Ireland's. Can you sort of provide an overview of the market that you're playing in as well as your particular device? And then, as a sort of a secondary question would be sort of give us an idea of where you're at with respect to clinical data, you know, the regulatory pathways, commercialization, that kind of thing.

Bill Facteau:   6:19
Yeah. So your lens is a next generation here gate company, and you know that the prevalence of sensory neuro hearing impairment of significant, you know, in the U. S. It impacts about close to 35 million Americans and say, Ah, very, very large market. It grossly under penetrated only about one of four or five people that could benefit from a hearing aid actually get one astonishingly favorable demographics to things that you know the primary causes of sensory neuron hearing impairment are gonna be aged and noise exposure. Both of those are on the rise and will be, you know, for some time. You know, I think the statistics in the US stand out for me is that there's 10,000 people in the United States. They're turning 65 every day and will be for the next 15 years. So so that this market will continue to grow on its own because of the demographics. And what we're trying to do is build a channel in the anti got a proprietary differentiated technology that addresses some of the limitations associated with the existing air conduction hearing aids. Instead of using a speaker like they all do amplified sound, we actually use light to transmit sound and energy, and the thing about a contact lens, it's it's on your eye. We've got a similar approach where we got a contact lens that sits on the year drum, and we've got a laser that his house into a custom here tip and that light shines onto the contact lenses, a little photon detector on there with a micro actuator, and it directly drives the on secular change. So the benefits that patient get a full band with sound, a frequency range from 110,000 hertz, which is, you know, more than two acts of what the existing hearing aid do. And then we're also able to give a significant amount of gain

Scott Nelson:   7:59
before feedback as we

Bill Facteau:   8:01
actually have a silent hearing aid by using light. So we're excited about the opportunity we've navigated through. The idea has been around for Rodney Perkins for some time. He's really been thinking about this literally for 25 years, and we recently have completed a number of clinical studies, have navigated through the FDA and received 5 10 K clearance with diNovo process about a year ago, and we are in the process of commercial launch here in early 2000.

Scott Nelson:   8:32
Right at the cusp of launching your device is gonna be it's gonna be exciting, for sure, and with respect to your competitors. I'm loosely familiar with that arena, but I know cochlear is a large competitors. I think that actually invested in one of your rounds if my research is correct, But are there other competitors as well in this space?

Bill Facteau:   8:47
Yeah, you know, actually, it's time in adjacent space for cochlear There really not a competitive er at this point, they're focused, you know, on the profound hearing and cochlear implants. So this would be, you know, potentially complimentary for them at some point. And, you know, I think where we do have some nice overlap is in the TNT channel. You know that the market is pretty much dominated by six large hearing Aid Cos. Five of which are in Europe. And, like Lenovo and G n resound are few examples. Oticon. And then there's one in the U S. Which is a private company out of many Minnesota called darkie. So it's kind of interesting, at least in my 25 years of men text, you usually see, you know, kind of the usual suspects. You know, A. J and J A rabid Boston Scientific. You know, Medtronic that are, you know, these guys are participating today in the channel are in hearing impairment, and I think primarily is because, you know, the channel has turned them all in the past, and audiology channel is top. Big six have really focused on distribution through retail and now selling into Costco. So, you know, we hope to bring more of a professional, you know, kind of sail through the audiologist and the anti versus, you know, kind of, you know, the retail approach that has typically been done.

Scott Nelson:   10:07
Sure, that's a good point. I certainly want to dress it sort of later on in our conversation after we get through some of your experiences early on in your career. But that with, especially with respect to, you know, the channels that you're gonna you're gonna be utilizing during, you know, throughout your launch, but also sort of professional component. You're sort of blending the two. I think that that's that's pretty interesting for sure. So if you don't mind, let's kind of, you know, remind o'clock back in time because I think you've spent most of your career in med tech, you know, dating back to the early nineties when you join us Surgical. So what brought you into the device base back in that time for him?

Bill Facteau:   10:36
Well, you know, it's been a year out of college and working at a long distance company called all the communication and basically the business model. There was going to go out and cold, call about 50 businesses a day. I found myself one day cold, called a recruiter's office and in anticipation of maybe trying to sell the long distance. You know, it turned out that I was actually being interviewed by a recruiter and she had said, Hey, listen, you know, continue, do a good job. I'm gonna keep your name on file. And, you know, one day I'm gonna give you a call, you know, for some opportunities. And sure enough that happened. She called and basically said that there was a job opportunity. I was in South Florida, which, you know, with us Surgical. And it was, you know, kind of a division of office called Automated Instruments. And I said, you know, hey, listen, you're it's a long shot for you to get the job. Usually, like people with 3 to 5 years experience minimum, But I'm gonna put your name in the ad and we'll see what happens. It'll be a good experience. And seven interviews later, the last one was over six hours I finally landed the job after role playing with the VP of sales Gerry McNamara. And you know, Jerry's was also VP of sales, were right intuitive surgical for many years and has done well there. And so he gave me a shot in that tech, and, you know, they say kind of the rest is history. But I joined U S Surgical in 1993 right around the time where the laughter skeptical is suspecting me Boom was happening And, you know, it was a huge opportunity and really fun times of training physicians and doing more minimally invasive surgery.

Scott Nelson:   12:12
That's such a great story. And I'm loosely familiar with with Gerry McNamara. I didn't I did not know that he was with us Surgical back in in that time frame. And so funny to think that you did your last round of interviews with him when he was VP of sales. But what a grinding process, right? I mean, I I don't know if you a surgical, still operates by his committee, and I guess still operates in that with that sort of aspect in regards to their interview process. But I can certainly appreciate that as I've done. I've been involved in a number of those those types of interviews. Maybe that not that lengthy, I guess. 77 interviews long, but yeah, those device interviews can be can be pretty intense.

Bill Facteau:   12:43
Absolutely. You know, us surgical kind of cracked the code early, I think on you no physician training and, you know, kind of what it takes to roll out new technology and convert positions. Two more minimally invasive surgery. But, you know, it was a very regimen. It, you know, militaristic kind of training process that, you know, certainly did start in the interviewing. But I have equated to boot camp. You go through it, but you never want to do it again. But it builds a good foundation and a U. S. Surgical was a great company and certainly learned a lot there.

Scott Nelson:   13:17
Sure. Yeah, no doubt. And on that note, you spend about five or six years with us Surgical before you moved on to per close. But you know, when you look at that in looking at your background, I noticed that that was a solid whatever six or 78 years of field based sales experience, not just as a rep. But as a manager, is the sales director, et cetera. So how do you think that experience in the trenches with physicians on a day in and day out basis? How do you think that's helped you throughout your career? Not only just with with the Clarin, but even now what you're doing with your lands.

Bill Facteau:   13:46
I look back in my career and certainly was one of the most rewarding. I was learning it, John. But, you know, I believe that, you know, carrying the bag gives you some instincts that I think are, you know, kind of a competitive advantage, if you will, what as you get into a CEO, I mean, if you you know what it takes to, you know, kind of walk into a no art of talking positions to understand the adoption cycle. You know, from that perspective, I thought that it was great and it's very, very useful. You know when when you start to commercialize company, you could appreciation as to your old really what it takes and the investments that are required there. It also gets you in a better position to be ableto really focus in on where the real issues are and especially did you launch new technologies and cos you're always gonna have challenges. And some are really Some are perceived, you know, some are more difficult to salt than others. But having carried the bag and have that kind of experience, I think helps and aids through that process the other, you know, piece that I think is, you know, I look back and feel is instrumental. And, you know, what I've become is CEO and board members and stuff like that. I mean, managing sales people, I think, is one of the most challenging jobs that you know I've ever had. I mean, you know, you you're always interviewing and especially here in a situation where you're fortunate enough to be in a company that's constantly growing. And so you're you're hiring people you've got, you know, high performing sales, people that are very, very difficult to manage. And, you know, you're being judged basically on success every month, every 30 days, you know where you stand and so you know, it's a tough job to continue to be creative and motive e and, you know, manage up and vanish down into yield. You know, the managers get called into the worst accounts of the most difficult situations, and and you've got to go try to solve problems with customers and, you know, and you want to communicate back to the corporation as you know what's happening out in the field. So I personally think that, you know, that was one of the one of the best jobs that, you know, equipped me with the skills you know, effectively be a CEO, and I'll never forget when I came in house for the first time and, you know, just so used to getting up, going to sit down and talking through issues versus that was kind of unique, if you will. At Abbott, where people were sending e mails right next Thio or talking with engineers that are rarely comfortable, Kind of getting a, you know, a monthly review, if you will, and one on one so have been incredibly helpful.

Scott Nelson:   16:29
Yeah, I couldn't agree with you more, and it seems like it's always, at least to me anyway. It's always evident when I have a conversation with a leader of a company and whether whether it's an early stage company or ah company, that's more that's a little bit more mature, but you can always almost intuitively tell you know which leaders spent time in a sales capacity or in the, you know, in the trenches, as I mentioned before, because it seems like they just have a better sort of better grasp of what's gonna resonate with customers. You know what's really you know. They just have a knack for what's really gonna work. You know, from a commercialization standpoint, they have a good sense for, like, how to navigate, you know, various layers of bureaucracy, which I'm sure you experienced, you know, at Abbott after the acquired per close. But I think it's just great Great anecdote. Great, great to hear you know, your your take on your sales experience. Now that kind of helped you along. Yeah, well, on that note, let's fast forward to a Clarence. You know, I mentioned earlier you were employee number four. There, I declare it after after Abbott bought are acquired pretty close. You really, you know, sort of built that ship from from the ground up, raising money, obtaining regulatory approvals, achieving you know, you know, coverage and certain reimbursement milestones, etcetera. Before we kind of get on, get Thio. One of the more that you know, some of the more challenging hurdles you encountered over the, you know, those five or six years what brought you to a Clarence when it was still that earlier in the incubator?

Bill Facteau:   17:38
You know, the introduction was actually made by Hank Planing, who has been, you know, a career mentor for me. I work for Hank, her clothes and and after it left, he went into foundry and starting companies there and eventually into venture capital. But, Hank, it had always, you know, kind of again mentored me, and And one day, he had called when I was that ab it as general manager. Endo vascular business really wasn't looking for a job and was completely happy and satisfied as to what we were trying to accomplish there. But when Hank calls, you know, you pick up the phone and so he had mentioned that you know, you want me. He wanted me to meet Josh Mack, our who was the CEO and founder of an incubator called Explorer Med and thought that, you know, Josh had a pretty interesting idea and wanted to know if I'd be interested in meeting them. So that's how that started. And that was in 2004.

Scott Nelson:   18:37
Got it interesting, those those connections. And you got to know Hank during your per close days. That's correct.

Bill Facteau:   18:43
I did. I did

Scott Nelson:   18:44
not

Bill Facteau:   18:44
see Oh, and you know and took us away to the acquisition of ABBA.

Scott Nelson:   18:49
Got it? And that on that note, I That reminds me, I want to ask you a question about your experience in that transition from, you know, at post acquisition transition. Could you help really build? You know, Abbot's in vascular business as we know it today, and you sort of did the same thing at J and J. So can you speak to that? Those experiences, you know, whether you want to talk to the transition at J and J. R. The transition and app, it sort of what you experienced in maybe some of the things that you didn't expect. Or maybe some of the lessons learned through that through those transitions going from, you know, nimble startup Thio being acquired by ah, large begic.

Bill Facteau:   19:20
Yeah, so there really are completely different and it really has it pertained to myself in my own experiences I mean it. Have it? I was, you know, prior to going. Yeah, but I was, you know, a sales manager and director of sales. And it was on that track and have it, you know, gave me a great opportunity and relocated me from Jacksonville, Florida, to come in and head up marketing. And and, quite frankly, I was probably Tag is one of the first to leave have it. But turns out I was one of the last. That was the ending and date on for five years or so and and really learned, you know, all the other aspects of men tech, you know, inside the four walls, I'd say, I mean, I felt like I had a really good understanding and growth on the sales side, But coming in how and, you know, heading up marketing and then transitioning into a general management role where we, you know, carved out, you know, an entry strategy for endovascular and from the very beginning. And, you know, it was just me. And then I hired a couple of marketing folks, and ultimately you ended up doing some acquisitions and some internal development we acquired, You know, the assets to Yo, Matt. We acquired a company called Nova, where we brought in involved protection device in and karate Stand ransom Studies there and got some approvals to the PM a process and then also the five K and really started commercialization. But, you know, Abbott was a wonderful company and probably still is but very fiscally responsible. That around for a while there quoted in, you know, incited in Good Degree by Jim Collins. And you know, I I really learned a ton, had some good good mentors there with shut folds and chip pants and and, you know, had some visibility to Rick Gonzalez, who, you know, one of the most impressive executives that I had ever interacted with and so great was a great experience. And it was really, you know, me learning and but being put in different roles. And I enjoyed that, you know, And J. And J was a bit different, and, you know, I'd always competed against J and J. But, you know, having been a CEO for five or six years and then being acquired and taking on a division and, you know, kind of getting everyone transition properly and they make sure that J. J was happy and committing to stay there for a few years. You know, we was different. And, you know, it certainly waas a great opportunity to get this ability that some good leaders over there and Gary Prudent and Bill. Well, then, But it also Alex Gorsky. You know, it was it was it was good and being on the management team at a higher level, that kind of see how J and J works in the history and you know how important their people are. You know, those relationships that was able to

Scott Nelson:   22:07
when I first made a move in from field based sales capacity into into marketing. I remember when my mentors, his advice was, Get to know everyone you know, regardless of whether they're in a sort of, ah commercial sort of setting or not, you know, so people in all the way from, you know, sales ops toe those who are running, you know, the ongoing clinical trials, regulatory folks, et cetera. And I probably didn't appreciate it as much when he first sort of gave me that advice. But, you know, looking back, it's definitely something I tried to do. I wish I didn't almost did more of it because it sounds like you know, by your experiences especially, you know, with, you know, going from Peru. Close, Abbott, when you first sort of know when internally, You know, the fact that you got to know so many people in so many different cross functional role is probably really, really help Fought, you know, really took that. You know what would be maybe longer a longer ramp in terms of learning, you know, really shorten that up quite a bit. Let's see here when you before we kind of moved on from a Clarence. When you think about all of those different accomplishments, you know, for for other med tech entrepreneurs who are looking at, you know, your experiences there, you know what, Is there something that's really memorable or something that you really you really learned a lot from, You know, whether it was the clinical trial aspect or, you know, the reimbursement arena, you know, you look back on that time or like that, that's that was a great lesson. Learned

Bill Facteau:   23:17
Well, I mean, there were lots of lessons learned, you know, in my career, and you know, I'm not sure I could point any particular one that stands out. But, you know, I guess what I would say And you know it's in general, You know, what I've learned is, you know, a CEO cos you kind of need to gravitate to where you believe the biggest risk is in the company. And I think that's what you know, Good, good. Thio have a tendency to do that. And those maybe areas that are completely out of, you know, your expertise or comfort zone. And, you know, a Clarence that was really around reimbursement. And, you know, we never anticipated that it would be so hard to positively influence and, you know, change this patient lives. I mean, the technology was wonderful. It was a no brainer to many of us. But you know, the resistance for adoption and the fights with societies and academic positions that you didn't want to change. And we're, you know, the Dogme associated with Sinus surgery and the reputation and the politics were completely underappreciated. And and that translated into reimbursement challenges when private payers and so you know, having to become, you know, an expert in reimbursement, you know, and society politics, Who's, you know, wasn't wasn't on the job description at the time.

Scott Nelson:   24:45
But you know that. You

Bill Facteau:   24:47
know, I think you kind of gravity, you know, here at your lenses, You know, I think gonna be the opposite. I mean, this is a technical beast is I call it. And for the last three years, we've been really hunkered down in tow, making this product work technically, and and so, you know, I've had to stretch a ton on the technical side, which, you know, as a commercial guy, you know, not easy. And so I think, you know, from from that perspective, you never know where the challenges are gonna be. You do your best to try to anticipate them up front and do your diligence. But you know when when these things do present and they always do these challenges and company killers, it just feels to me like my lessons learned are, you know, you got a you've got to give him 100% mindshare and, you know, come up to speed and associate yourself with you know, the experts that can help you and make sure you bring enough attention and focus on solving it

Scott Nelson:   25:44
so good. I'm so glad you brought it up. I probably didn't think that you were gonna go there, but just giving, you know that there's just really two things that you said that really, really ring True for me is giving giving that issue or that problem that challenge 100% of your mind share, but also not being afraid to go there, you know, and sort of stretch yourself in going to a place that is outside of your comfort zones. Such a good lesson learned there. So thanks for bring that up before we get tear. Linds, I I definitely want to cover the reimbursement aspect because it's at your lens. It's It's a completely, you know, self paid model, which I I want to get your take on. But before we go there, you spent between you know, the clearing, the G and J and in a Clarence acquisition. But Clarence and then and then airlines where you're at now, it's been about a year and 1/2 at Explore Med and N'Diaye. Can you provide, like a high level overview of explore meant for those that are listening that aren't familiar with that incubator. Then I want to ask you a quick question about any as well.

Bill Facteau:   26:33
Yeah, yeah, yeah. A couple years and really, Josh Mack, our is the, you know, the genius behind Explorer Med. And Josh is, you know, a brilliant man and Renaissance man, you know, he was the founder. Ah, Clarence. And you know, really the brainchild behind the idea of using balloons in the Sinuses and and bringing other cardiology type company our technologies into Indian tea. And then after, you know, after we sold J and J A, Clarence E. J and J. And I was there for a few years, you know, Josh and I, you know, aspired to try to work together again. And so I joined him over at explore, met for two for a few years, and, you know, with all that was going on in FDA and some of the uncertainty and reimbursement, you know, Josh felt is on, and I was pretty much in line as well. But you know, really, until this stuff works out, you know, maybe we can focus on doing some consumer kind of companies where we could still, you know, have a medical bend and help patient and consumers, but, you know, left of, you know, issues that would be outside our control, like around reimbursement on regulatory. So So we did that started a few companies there, which are, you know, out and doing well. And and then simultaneously, you know, any A was a great partner at a Clarence. John Neera and

Scott Nelson:   27:58
Ryan

Bill Facteau:   27:58
Grant were great. And, you know, they did really well out of Clarence is, you know, owning about 50% of the company, they really double down and were incredibly supportive. And so I got to know any A during that process, and Ryan Grant, and in particular really reached out. And you know what? Josh is poured, and John Neera, you know, asked if I would kind of join them as a entrepreneur in residence and help him look at some deals and maybe sit on some boards that any A had invested in. And I did that for a few years and, you know, it was good to see, you know, kind of look under the hood and see how the sausage is made over

Scott Nelson:   28:37
in the world.

Bill Facteau:   28:38
And, you know, it was interesting and yeah, so it was a great experience and allowed me to grow in other areas and get some visibility And, you know, kind of come to the realization, at least from my perspective, that you know, what I really enjoy doing is running companies and building companies and where, as you know, there were some great things about venture capital and early stage company development. You know, like in the incubator I'm or wired Thio, you know, really build companies, attract management teams and, you know, kind of solve problems and grow businesses. And and that's what kind of led me back to making the decision to run your life.

Scott Nelson:   29:14
Got it makes sense. You answer to the question that I was going to ask and that it seems like maybe that would have been a decent, decent little spot to stay at for any eh for a little bit longer and continue down that DC path. But it sounds like to your point your butt more wired a little bit more biased toward, you know, the operation side in building and running companies. So certainly can appreciate that as we as we move on tier, Linds, you know, I'm gonna I'm gonna read a quote here from Mike Krusee. You know, it's obviously you know, you know Mike well know eventually met Zach Venture capitalists, but this is a quote that I think he made when you first joined Ireland's or shortly thereafter. He said Bringing on Bill was a game changer for us and paved the way for the company to do a full Series B. And so I thought that quote was interesting. You know? Why do you think, you know, Mike would make you know someone who's really well known in the med tech space? What do you think he'd make that kind of Ah comment?

Bill Facteau:   29:59
Well, I mean, Mike, it's Mike. Gabi, please, is a great guy and a successful BC and one of the things one of the great things that are still left in our industry and that, you know, he's been persistent and, you know, raising money in a very difficult environment and works hard. And so, you know, I appreciate his comments and humbled by it, but I'm sure Mike and I probably have a similar philosophy on you know how these things, you know, these companies in med tech work and what makes him successful. And from my perspective, it's always been people, product and opportunity and really in that order, I've seen some great ideas. Never, you know, really pan out because of bad execution. Some average idea has turned into a phenomenal success is because of the people. So, you know, my guess is that, you know, Mike's been around the block long enough to appreciate that as well, and, you know, whereas I didn't know he made that comment. But

Scott Nelson:   30:59
I

Bill Facteau:   30:59
Okay, I have a lot of respect for Mike and, you know, hearing that humbled him

Scott Nelson:   31:06
like I can't ask you to Brett to brag a little bit of about there. But I appreciate the fact that you you want to stay humble. Yet for those listening that aren't familiar with Mike, I did an interview with him a couple couple years ago. I think, still one of more popular interviews on the program. It's all you know. We go deep in regards to a med tech venture capital, so it's a great one, Mike really, really good guy, really. Get Thio really fun to do that That interview. So let's transition now, you know, to talking, you know, really specifically about Ireland. You already provided sort of an overview of the market, your specific device, et cetera. But I know you mentioned this direct channels that you refuse before were, you know, the other six competitors, I think are very, very focused on the direct to consumer. You know, our director patient play. You're bringing a little bit of a different element there. Probably because of your background, I would imagine where you're sort of, you know, trying to blend both worlds. The director consumer play our director patient play as well. A sort of like bringing in that professional component, working through audiologist. So can you clean that a little bit more in detail and kind of your what excites you about the directive? Patient sort of aspect, But also, like, how do you envision blending both of those worlds together?

Bill Facteau:   32:05
Yeah, well, I'll tell you the thing that excites me, and I cannot believe we're having more and more in this direction where you know it is gonna be consumer base decisions. And, you know, I believe the biggest thing I've said this now for gosh, probably 10 years that I think the biggest threat to men. Tech is insurance companies and reimbursement. And you know it's something that we, as the industry and leaders have to, you know, take a I think, a united approach to try to help. And I don't think it's CMS as much as it is the private payers. I mean, at least there's a process and more accountability on the CMS side and visibility. You know, we don't have that option on the private playersside and you know, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of the World and, you know, private payers. They just want to say no. And part of the business model is you know, it's profitability through attrition, and they know that if they say no long enough, there's gonna be a percentage that aren't gonna make it So, you know, I think that you know that that's gonna have to change. I hope it will. But, you know, in the short term, you know, I think having a focus or, you know, an area where consumers can you make the call. It used to be a med tech, you know, when I first came in and you gotta get a good product and you're gonna help patients you know it would be successful. It may take longer, but the end of the day the system would support it. And that's just not the case anymore. And that's that's that part about our industry. So having the ability to directly discuss these things with consumers and putting them in a position where they're the decision makers is exciting to me, and you know, unfortunately, and get all the things that we pay for in the United States of America, we do not reimburse for hearing anything. So, you know, this

Scott Nelson:   33:54
is

Bill Facteau:   33:54
a $6 billion you know, global business. And, you know which about half of that are, you know, 40% or so is in the US, but it's all out of pocket. And you know that depending on where you're at, it could be a good thing or a bad thing. I kind of look at it at this point is, you know, if I was a consumer, you know, I wanted to be able to get some relief and be reimbursed, as you know, the hearing aid company, you know, having to try to figure out how to get reimbursement, you know, through Medicare, this page for hearing AIDS is, you know, that is daunting. So So I lean towards directed consumer. You know, maybe we can pursue other ways to get, you know, patients reimbursed like tax credits and done some work, you know, with industry lobbyist, you know, and up on the Hill to try to explain the benefits and how important treating hearing impairment is. And it's Medicare's not willing to reimburse. Perhaps we can work through getting a tax credit for patients that need it. But I just think that, you know, we're gonna be more and more consumer decisions in the future. And that's what we will evolve to being there today. You know, I feel like that for me personally, that

Scott Nelson:   35:03
I couldn't agree with you more in the sense that you know the reimbursement path with his soaks. It's so difficult, so challenging, I think for seems like for a long time, most folks in med Tech sort of, you know, laminate about complained about, you know, the FDA, you know, and the slower of regulatory pathway. But it seems like anymore. No FDA, you know, at least based on the people that I converse with on a routine basis as really. I mean, it's really done a nice job there. Jeff Sharon over. There's done a nice job, at least over the last year, a handful of years. But now that the reimbursement is the reimbursement pathways, that is really more. Is this the biggest challenge? It seems like you know, when it comes to commercializing a lot of these devices. So interesting to get your to get your take on that, considering you spent most of your career and kind of traditional sort of medical device men of the MySpace.

Bill Facteau:   35:46
Yeah, I I echo your thoughts. I think Jeff Sharon has done a wonderful job and, you know, it's not always been easy, I'm sure. But, you know, I think he balanced the risk and time to market and has introduced a heck of a lot more predictability in the FDA. And I give him credit. And I remember meeting with Jeff, you know, probably in 2000. And you know, he his credit, a lot of town hall meetings and, you know, informal and formal to get back. And, you know, he done a great job, and that's a tough job to be in because you get criticized for all different size, but I think for those of us that are deep in, you know, understanding med Tech and the regulatory path, I think it's hard to say that you know, anything negative about Jeff's urine is the contributions that you made it to our space, and and so I think that's a great thing. Now, you know, it

Scott Nelson:   36:43
becomes

Bill Facteau:   36:44
a little more harder to do that on the reimbursement side again. CMS, you could have a similar kind of impact. An individual could. But you know, I don't I don't see how you know we can leverage and have an audience. Really? With private payers on dhe,

Scott Nelson:   37:00
that's Yep, yep. No doubt, No doubt. I know we've got a limited time left, so I I want to jump till your technology. The airlines, which is, you know, pretty disruptive, pretty differentiated, especially versus the other six competitors that you sort of called out earlier in our conversation. But I want to get your understanding. How do you approach this? I mean, you know, first and foremost, you've gotta educate consumers about a product that is truly different and does stand out at the same time you can't alienate you know the practitioner audience. Right? The audiologist. So how are you approaching that challenge?

Bill Facteau:   37:31
Yeah, so, you know, first and foremost, we're gonna go slow. Clarence, we had to go as fast as we could because it was really about survival in the societies and payers. We trained a lot of positions because we knew once they were trained and they used it, they've become passionate about and want to fight for it here, you know, because it's a consumer product. We need to move slow, and we gotta make sure we get it right. You get the positioning right, Pricing right, get setting expectations. And the last thing we want is, you know, buyer's remorse. And so, you know, we're right now we're all about protecting the brand and, you know, at the expense, you know, at times of taking a little slower and and trying to get the product where it needs to be. The other decision. As you said, we made a conscious decision that we don't want to alienate anyone. And the audiologist is, you know, a great profession. It's under a lot of change and scrutiny because of some of the dynamics that are happening in the channel right now, and so we want to partner with them. But we also want to make sure that we're focused on TNT as well. And so what we bring is, you know, setting the expectation that we think. And we've done a lot of market research suggesting that you know Andy, Andy, and an audiologist paired together is very, very appealing to the consumer that suffers from hearing loss in hearing impairment. So we train together as a team, the audiologist and the NT, and and, you know, we kind of have to saying top tracks toe. Make sure that you know there's you appeal for both of them and that they can work together and that there's a, you know, a great business and a great opportunity had ahead of them collectively as a partnership or a team versus you know, them competing against each other, if you will. That big focus of us of our strategy point

Scott Nelson:   39:16
as I hear you explain that this might be a little bit of a stretch when it comes to analogies. But just how Edwards had a lot of success sort of, you know kind of fostering an environment where the interventional cardiologist has to shake hands with, You know, the cardiothoracic surgeon, you know, in the heart valve space, it sounds like maybe you're doing something somewhat similar, you know, with audiologists and anti docks, you know, help commercialize your technology before we wrap up here. What? What's next year? Linds, I know you mentioned that you're gonna commercialize in 2017 which you're looking forward to, but any anything else that you want to share with what's next for the company?

Bill Facteau:   39:48
Well, I think you know, we're transitioning into a commercial stage company, which is exciting. And we've retired a lot of risk, that technical risk, the regulatory risk and and now we need to focus on commercial execution. And that's an exciting time for the company, and and 125 employees that we have. And so we're excited, and it's not gonna be easy, you know, the Big Six, sir, you have been There's reasons why there called the Big Six

Scott Nelson:   40:15
and

Bill Facteau:   40:15
lots of barriers entry. But, you know, that's kind of why we get up in the morning and it's an exciting time. So I'm looking forward to the next phase of your Latin, which would be commercialization and really helping a lot of patients over. We're excited to see where we are.

Scott Nelson:   40:30
Yeah, I certainly wish you nothing but the best will be. It'll be funded. Thio watch you guys progress. I'm always, always had a natural interest in those those kind of more traditional, sort of med tech companies that have a very direct to consumer directive patient sort of aspect to them. So it would be fun to watch you guys work. So let's end our conversation here with the last three rapid fire questions. They're the rapid fire. From a question standpoint. Don't necessarily have to be rapid fire from an answer standpoint. So what's your favorite business book?

Bill Facteau:   40:55
You know, I've got a lot of I've read a lot of a one dimensional

Scott Nelson:   41:01
perspective,

Bill Facteau:   41:03
but you know, a lot of my leadership. I think it's based off the block C five dysfunctions of the team, and and so I guess I had to pick that or the odds principle, which was

Scott Nelson:   41:14
really

Bill Facteau:   41:15
right ability and and probably

Scott Nelson:   41:20
got it very good. Is there a CEO that you're following? Or maybe one that's inspired you in the past.

Bill Facteau:   41:25
Oh, yeah, Many. And so I think there was a big gap in med tech leadership a few years ago. And, you know, I think people like sports key and Mike Mahoney over Boston Scientific. I mean, you know, I know those guys, that I'm glad that they've taken on the role. And I think that, you know, that is a great thing for med Tech. And you know, Mike Solomon, these guys have done a really good job. So I feel good about our industry that you know, the larger companies, that we finally have some stability in some leadership there. And and I kind of watched those. You know, I have a lot of respect for Tom Prescott and the person, an individual. I sought him out as a mentor. When we decide to file to go public at Clarendon, he was running Align Technologies and, you know, he had been there for 30 years and took that company from a $200 million market cap over five billion. I think it's closed. Maybe six or seven billion today. But, Tom, you know, I've been I was actively pursuing calm. Join here Lens as chairman to replace me, upgrade me its chairman and having enjoying. And I was fortunate enough to convince himto to come over a year ago after he retired. But I have a lot of Spectra Tano what he's been able to accomplish. I think there's a lot of similarities here in airlines. So if I 70.1 CEO who is now retired that I talked to closely and is gonna be Tom,

Scott Nelson:   42:48
that's great. It would be fun to have Tom on the program. And on that note, Glad you mentioned Mike Mahoney to I. I don't quite a few people over at Boston Scientific, as you probably do as well and even, you know, quite a bit lower in the food chain, if you will. They have. You know, most people have very positive things to say about what he's done, and you could see that reflecting in their in their stock prices well, but it's cool that you pointed that out to herself. Last question. Billy, if you had the opportunity to turn back, turn back time, rewind the clock all the way back where you were at the age of 25 what would you tell yourself then.

Bill Facteau:   43:15
You know, I think you enjoy the journey. Write it and you can't get too serious about this stuff in the big picture. Life's gonna throw you a curve balls. And, you know, I think one of the biggest you know, you know, attributes that I think you can have is to be even keeled in life and put things in perspective.

Scott Nelson:   43:35
That's good stuff. Something certainly I can I can appreciate. Well, with four kids and sometimes I'm giving them advice only. It's really just helpful, helpful advice for myself. So

Bill Facteau:   43:43
I Well, you're right.

Scott Nelson:   43:48
Yep. Yep. No doubt. I'm sure you have times with with family. It seems like it seems like it's chaos. I've got to tell myself, you know, jury, enjoy the enjoy the journey itself. That's a good way to wrap this up. But I couldn't. I can't thank you enough for doing this jumping on the program and spend an hour with me. So I I really appreciate that. My

Bill Facteau:   44:04
pleasure and appreciate it. And I wish you all the best. And thanks for Reach out, Scott.

Scott Nelson:   44:09
All right. Sounds good. Have you hold on the line real quick, but for those didnt learning a little bit more about your lands. The company that bill is hell right now linked to your lands in the show notes. Of course, you could always just talk Google in search for airlines, but all linked in the show notes as well. But for those listening, thanks everyone for listening in on this episode and until the next time. Thanks again, ladies and gents, for listening. This episode has been brought to you from the W. C. G studios here in Minneapolis. And don't forget to grab your pan out. Extracting blueprint by visiting reach. Fire digital dot com for slash met cider again that's reached fire digital dot com forward slash met cider. Okay, bye for now.