When ophthalmology industry veteran John Hendrick was tapped to lead Mynosys Cellular Devices Inc. as CEO in 2013, he found a promising product destined for a large market—a device that would automate and increase the precision of the most difficult step in the most commonly performed surgery in the world — cataract surgery. (On a global basis, there are 25 million cataract surgeries each year.)
In 2012, after the founders tested a working surgical prototype in a rabbit model, they began knocking on doors looking for venture capital and angel funding, without much success. They needed an experienced CEO, they were told, so they recruited Hendrick, who had just finished a seven-year run as CEO of Neovista, the developer of a novel device therapy for age-related macular degeneration. Hendrick had also held executive positions at Allergan Medical Optics.
The Zepto Cataract Capsulotomy Eye Surgery System Mynosys’s founders developed replaces manual continuous curvilinear capsulorhexis (rhexis, for short), which is skill-dependent, and femtosecond laser technology, which is expensive (starting with upfront costs of $500,000) and associated with higher rates of certain complications.
By late 2015, when Mynosys won CE Mark approval for the Zepto device in the EU, it was clear that Mynosys had a system that offered cost and clinical benefits over the two other major capsulotomy approaches.
But one major risk still remained on the table. In his experience, says Hendrick, “Many people come up with good ideas that could be beneficial to patients, but at the end of the day they have to be financially viable. And it’s as true around the world as it is in our medical system, if physicians don’t have a way to make money out of it, it won’t get universally adopted. And it’s also difficult to raise money in that case.”
Now Mynosys faced the next adoption hurdle: market risk. Hendrick had, in previous companies, worked with Dymedex Consulting, now part of Navigant Consulting Inc., and so engaged the medtech practice of Navigant to conduct a strategic market assessment.