MedTech Crossroads

Episode 94 of MedTech Crossroads (in2being’s weekly webinar) features Ishtiaq Mawla and Ellie Frydendall of miLEAD Consulting.

miLEAD is a nonprofit consulting group that works with early to mid-stage entrepreneurs, most of whom are doctoral and post-doc students from the University of Michigan. miLEAD’s services include market and customer discovery, important and often overlooked elements of the development process for new medical devices.

The discussion, hosted by Gene Parunak, Managing Director of in2being, uses a question-and-answer format and case histories to delve into the world of market analysis and customer discovery.

First, Mawla and Frydendall share some of their strategies for market research. Depending on project characteristics, they choose between two categories of research: primary research and secondary research.

  • In primary research, med tech entrepreneurs (or their consultants) seek their own data by polling opinion leaders; speaking to potential customers, collaborators, and competitors; or running focus groups.
  • Secondary research involves a deep dive into relevant academic or business conference literature or scouring proprietary databases for market data that others have collected.

The miLEAD consultants encourage medical device developers to approach market discovery by asking specific questions. Each new medical device is unique, so a company’s strategy for success also needs to be unique.

If you’re developing a new medical device, it’s natural to think about your market unidimensionally. The pool of patients your device serves is your market; the region with the most patients is the best place to launch your product.

But Mawla and Frydendall use case histories to highlight that market discovery is a multifactorial problem. For example, a region with a lower patient population but more patients being treated for the condition your device targets might be a better place for your product launch.

Overall, this episode brings up a host of beneficial considerations for med tech start-ups in the midst of the medical device development process. Other case histories included the following:

  • A start-up identified the biggest market for their product launch. However, miLEAD’s research indicated that a small, rapidly growing market was actually a better opportunity.
  • A U.S.-based start-up faced significant regulatory hurdles for launching their product at home. miLEAD recommended launching abroad in markets with easier entry. This strategy also facilitated gathering data for regulatory clearance in the U.S.
  • A company’s base technology could be differentiated into multiple products. Their question was, “Which product should we develop?” The answer depended on the market potential of each product and the company’s long-term goals.
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