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Burning the Boats in MedTech

Any adult of a certain age from Philly knows that Charlie Mack was the “first out the limo”.  Mack started out as actor Will Smith’s bodyguard (at least that’s how I knew of him) and has thrown celebrity charity events for decades.  It was a real treat for me to learn Charlie Mack has had a broad and successful career in the music industry.  He was recently quoted in a news article giving some salient advice:

“First off, don’t look for something mystical to happen… you’re not going to levitate,” Mack said. “You have to be clear that nobody is going to put you on, you have to put yourself on. You just have to work really, really hard, stay very humble" - Charlie Mack

This got me thinking about ways to tackle the undeniable fact that, over the next few decades, there won’t be enough white men to go around in MedTech.  I think one viable path to mitigating the deficit of human capital is pouring into and shining a light on founders of color who have fully committed to MedTech. People who have decided to burn the boats are forgoing a traditional 9 to 5 job, applying for grants and plain doing whatever it takes to build products to help people live longer and healthier lives. These folks know something. They know that when you decide in your head and your heart that you are all in, people will come into your life and assist in special ways, new capital sources become available, time is appreciated a little bit more, and clarity itself becomes a reward.

I’ve had the good fortune to witness this recently. I connected with Javier Evelyn and learned more about his journey to deliver therapy to millions living with life-threatening allergies.  One of his strengths is his compelling personal story alongside a great technology.  He decided to build his product in Detroit and not feel compelled to move to the left coast.  I left our conversation with a real sense that this founder believed in what he was doing and was in it for the long haul.

Angelique Johnson is a master at non-dilutive funding. She’s raised millions in this way.  Dr. Johnson went from strength to strength, leveraging her graduate school research into a full blown neuromodulation company.  Every single Meyerhoff scholar I have met has been a rock star and Angelique is no exception. She has figured out how to plan for the future.  She thinks about not just the next month, but the next few years and what success would look like for the company and patients.   She’s doing big things in Kentucky y’all.

DC is more than just a government town.  Yusuf Henriques is taking a technology from the East Coast to the Bay Area with passion and purpose.  PTSD afflicts millions and his solution for early screening is inspirational for not only veterans but anyone suffering from this mental health condition.  I admire him for taking the leap and traveling cross country with an amazing team. TrueGenomix was recently accepted into a highly selective Bay area incubator.  They will have a powerful partner as they spread the word through the ecosystem.

In my life, I draw inspiration from people who are crisp and clear about where they are headed. These three individuals are great examples of that. Congratulations to everyone who has decided to burn the boats.

Kwame UlmerMedTech, Purpose