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Greenlight Guru Acquires CanvasGT: A Fire(less)side Chat

January 19, 2022

How can early-stage medical device companies improve product quality, increase creativity, get to market faster, and increase new product introduction success for safer and more effective medical devices? A one of a kind solution brought to you by Greenlight Guru and CanvasGT that enables a collaborative, creative, and iterative process while seamlessly capturing design history along the way.

In this episode of the Global Medical Device Podcast host and founder Jon Speer along with co-host and medical device guru Etienne Nichols are joined by Andrew DiMeo, CEO and founder of CanvasGT, to discuss the recent announcement of Greenlight Guru's acquisition of CanvasGT.

Listen to Jon, Etienne, and Andrew discuss the value the acquisition will bring to medical device innovators around the world by enabling a collaborative, creative, and iterative process during the pre-design control phase. 

 

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Like this episode? Subscribe today on iTunes or Spotify.

 

Some highlights of this episode include:

  • Andrew has been in the medical device industry for about 25 years. His design background started in the New York City motion picture industry, but he also studied biomedical engineering.

  • CanvasGT brings a collaborative process that seamlessly and automatically combines a virtual whiteboard, spreadsheet application, and visual frameworks to organize thoughts for a business model.

  • Andrew explains the concept of “Genius of the And” as two opposing forces that seem to be in contrast with each other. They need to make some sort of compromise. Instead of this or that, maximize both for a product to be successful.

  • Jon describes CanvasGT’s solution and workflow as a way to bridge the gap between conveying a potential solution for an unmet need or problem.

  • CanvasGT implements best practices of design thinking. Be creative, do your work, and capture notes/changes. When you are ready, you will be ready!

  • The temptation for investment in the medical device industry is great, so why not be on the same team and finance a business by being with a strategic partner.

  • Jon predicts that medical device product developers using CanvasGT can generate speed cost effectively without sacrificing or compromising quality.

 

Links:

Andrew DiMeo on LinkedIn

CanvasGT

CanvasGT | Greenlight Guru

Greenlight Guru Acquires Visual Medical Design Collaboration Solution CanvasGT

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx)

5 Actionable Lessons Learned From the RADx Initiative by NIH

The Business Model Canvas by Alex Osterwalder

Jim Collins’ Concept - Genius and the And

410 Medical

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

FDA - Medical Device Overview

FDA - Design Controls

Free Medical Device Webinars

Greenlight Guru Academy

The Greenlight Guru True Quality Virtual Summit

MedTech True Quality Stories Podcast

Greenlight Guru YouTube Channel

Greenlight Guru

 

Memorable quotes from THIS EPISODE:

“The whole entirety of my career has been trying to bring this creative energy that I really started my career with and the pragmatic side of medical device product development.” Andrew DiMeo

“We’re living in an era of multi-site, real-time collaboration.” Andrew DiMeo

“This ensures the mission. We’ve got synergistic vision to improve quality of life.” Andrew DiMeo

“There’s still a lot of opportunity, and that’s our mission at Greenlight - continue to solve problems that address the needs of medical device professionals.” Jon Speer

 

Transcription

Announcer: Welcome to the Global Medical Device Podcast, where today's brightest minds in the medical device industry go to get their most useful and actionable insider knowledge direct from some of the world's leading medical device experts in companies.

Etienne Nichols: Hey, everyone. This is Etienne Nichols, the co-host of the Global Medical Device Podcast. Welcome back. We have a special episode for you today with Jon Speer and Andrew DiMeo. Andrew DiMeo is the CEO and founder of CanvasGT, recently acquired by Greenlight Guru. So this is a really exciting episode because we get to talk about how this partnership is going to look, how does CanvasGT dovetail in with what Greenlight Guru is already doing. But in this episode, we actually meander a little bit. We talk about different things like Gran Turismos, the Genius of the AND," Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance". So if you're a fan of that book, stick around for the end of the episode, it's really good. So without further ado, welcome to the Global Medical Device Podcast. Let's get started. Welcome back to the global medical device podcast. This is Etienne Nichols. I am the co- host. With me Today is Jon Speer, our host of the show. But we're flipping the script a little bit because we have not only Jon Speer with us, but also Andrew DiMeo. So before I get a little ahead of myself, Greenlight Guru has recently acquired CanvasGT. We're really excited to make this announcement and to get a little bit more into what the details of that looks like. But with us today is the founder and CEO of CanvasGT, Andrew DiMeo. So we're going to have a conversation with him and just talk about the solution he brings and just the way this partnership is going to look like and how we can help each other out as far as Greenlight Guru's integration with CanvasGT. So without further ado, Andrew, do you want to mention a little bit about yourself?

Andrew DiMeo: Oh man. Where to begin? So gosh, my background is from the New York City medical device industry.

Jon Speer: No, it's not.

Andrew DiMeo: No, it's not.

Jon Speer: New York city. Yeah.

Andrew DiMeo: I got the New York city part, right. Oh, oh man. So yeah, I started my career in the New York city motion picture industry where I worked on major motion, pictures and TV shows, like the Sopranos. I don't know if you can see this little-

Jon Speer: Yeah.

Andrew DiMeo: ...car-

Etienne Nichols: Yeah.

Andrew DiMeo: ...from my days working out the Sopranos back in the city. I was in set dressing and props. That's really where I started my design background. But I also went on to study biomedical engineering and have been in the medical device industry for, I don't know, 25- ish years or something like that. So the whole entirety of my career has been trying to bring this creative energy that I've really started my career with and the pragmatic side of medical device product development. We're talking about devices that are implanted into human beings and this is stuff that the quality of that is just incredibly important. And How can you bring creativity and quality together? It just spans my whole career, and so it includes multiple startup companies. It includes 12 years at NC State and UNC, and Duke teaching biomedical innovation, design and entrepreneurship. It includes working with the NIH on multiple programs, including C3i, RADx, Blueprint, neuro and it's all centered around medical device innovation. So yeah, that's just a little snapshot into my background.

Etienne Nichols: That's cool. For the people who aren't seeing video, an additional snapshot in his background is the bicycles on the top. So maybe that's a different episode, but I just love getting to see and getting to talk to you. I'll be completely open, when I saw the announcement come through in when my emails, just one evening I opened my email, I know John and others at Greenlight Guru we're not supposed to be looking at email at night I suppose, but I opened this email, it said," We've acquired CanvasGT." I thought," What in the world?" So I started looking on the website and I thought," Okay, this is really cool," and I can see how it's going to be a seamless partnership. But you want to describe a little bit about what CanvasGT is and the solution that you'll be bringing?

Andrew DiMeo: Yeah. So we're living in an era of multi- site, real- time collaboration. The idea for CanvasGT is before the pandemic, which only exacerbated this people collaborating on work from multiple sites. This idea of being creative while doing pragmatic work was the inspiration for what would become CanvasGT. Really the best way to describe it is it's a combination of a virtual whiteboard, so there's many virtual whiteboards out there. It's a combination of a virtual spreadsheet or table type application like Google Sheets, if you will. Then it brings together this idea of visual frameworks. The most simple visual framework that I can describe would be like a Venn diagram. I'm talking drawing three circles on a whiteboard. You know how this process goes, let's think old school, let's think standing together, and you've got a whiteboard and you're like," Hey, let's do this Venn diagram." You draw off three circles and you start putting notes into those three circles to understand where the overlap is. It's a real collaborative process. You stand around the board, you're talking, you're putting notes on there. But then when you're done, what happens? When you're done, you take a picture, and then somebody puts that information into some new form. They'll open up Google Sheets or Excel and they'll start to put that information that was on the whiteboard into the spreadsheet. So that concept of very simple frameworks, like a Venn diagram, there's really complex and cool visual frameworks. Probably the most popular would be the Business Model Canvas by Alex Oster Wilder. If you don't know it, I encourage you to look at it. It's just awesome. It's a way to be on a whiteboard and be organizing thoughts about a business model. Again, the same process of, well now that you're done with this collaborative work, somebody's got to take pictures of it, somebody's got to move it into some other form, typically a spreadsheet. My background, which the one piece that I left out from the entrepreneurial pieces, the university piece, I spent a couple of years with an industrial design firm called Trig. I really got into this visual framework world. While I was there, I said, hey, we can make a framework that makes the waterfall process more of a visual process instead of it being thought of as the stage gate where you flow from needs to inputs to outputs. It's a visual framework is what it is to begin with. It's not necessarily intended to be a stage gated process. We all know that we don't work that way. The moment that you walk up to the whiteboard, you've got an idea for a device, you stick the last thing in first. Then you start thinking well what are the deeds that we're solving. Then you go out and you talk to people and try to validate are these needs even real. So it's much more of a holistic thing. I thought, man, we could create a visual framework that makes the waterfall process, if you will, a holistic white board activity, and then we did it. We created the whiteboard and there's a ton of multi- site collaborative tools for white boarding, everybody's got a whiteboard these days. So we would do this process, but it was kind of the same thing, only in the virtual world. We'd be standing around the virtual whiteboard, putting the information onto the virtual whiteboard and then taking snapshots of it and then cutting and pasting that information into a spreadsheet, which could become your trace matrix. Then say," Hey, we're really mature. We've got traction, maybe now moving that information into a validated application, like Greenlight Guru." So that whole thought process, can we just simplify this thing? Can we just have a place where we can be in the whiteboard doing our work, but the table is just being built seamlessly automatically in the background so you don't have to think about it? You don't have to transcribe, it's just done. So in a nutshell, that's what CanvasGT is.

Etienne Nichols: I love that because I have so many customers that, for those of you who don't know, I'm one of the medical device gurus at Greenlight Guru, so I get to work directly with the customers and see how they interact with Greenlight Guru. One of the things we consistently see is a failure to adopt the design controls right off the bat, because they're afraid, well, I don't have all my user needs figured out exactly, so I don't want to touch it until I'm ready. Not thinking that this is a living process, it's a living document. But having something like this, a whiteboard, which is exactly what they're doing in their minds, maybe even in their actual desk, behind their desk with the whiteboard or the sticky notes on the wall, that may be actually what they're doing. So I think this is an incredibly powerful tool that I'm excited to start seeing implemented.

Jon Speer: I was just going to say that Andrew and I have now known each other for a few years. We first connected when he was teaching at Biomedical Engineering and Design at NC State. It was like we were kindred spirits from that first conversation, the passion, the vision that he had, at least in that role at NC State was really about teaching biomedical engineering students how to be successful biomedical professionals while they were still getting their education. So that I'd really connected with that. But we stayed in touch over the years and I remember when he shared his idea for CanvasGT, I'm like," Damn it, why didn't I think of that," because it's so good. The workflow that we have in Greenlight I would say is revolutionary when we introduced that a few years ago, just that concept of starting with the traceability matrix. But Etienne, you're spot on, a lot of design teams they're reticent or hesitant to dive into a traceability matrix because they immediately feel like there's too much structure, too much rigor, too much formality and they just might not be there yet. The flip side of that though is they stay out of the traceability matrix really until it's almost too late, a lot of times. They're at the very end and they're like," Oh crap, now we got to fill in the blanks." I think this is that opportunity that CanvasGT workflow will fill that or bridge that gap.

Etienne Nichols: Yeah. At the very least that design controls exercise is no longer helpful if you wait to the end. So, absolutely. So many things that they're missing out on when they do that. Andrew, one of the questions, so I was looking at the website for CanvasGT, one of the things I saw was this Genius of the AND, so you've already talked about left brain, right brain people, I wanted to see what you had to add as far as that goes.

Andrew DiMeo: So this is just one of my favorite topics. Yeah. Genius of the AND, it's A- N- D. I want to say if popularized at all, it would be by the author Jim Collins. He writes about it and he's got some good discussions on it, so I encourage you to read that.

Jon Speer: Some might even say great. A little nerd joke there, folks.

Andrew DiMeo: Yeah crosstalk. It's good. So the the concept of Genius of the AND is that you've got two opposing forces that seem to be in contrast with each other and so you make some sort of a compromise. The concept is, hey, instead of compromising, instead of this or that, can we actually maximize both. Where I live this every day as in yoga. When you're doing yoga, it teaches you to be in this pose, which you need all of your energy to hold. You need every single one of your muscles activated. But at the same time, the instructor's saying like, " Relax. Smile," and you completely realized how can I be crosstalk in this pose and relaxed? It's like you can actually do both. You can maximize your physical performance and maximize being relaxed. The idea when we were conceiving CanvasGT, the idea that, oh man, there's some really good creative tools, but they're just not that good at the pragmatic side, and there's really good visualization tools that are incredibly analytical, but their creative pieces just it's not quite there. I didn't want to compromise between those two. I just wanted both. So I was playing around with Genius of the AND, and it's GTA if you turn it into an acronym. I looked at it and I was like," GT is Gran Turismo" There's this idea of do you build a car to be a race car that's fast and agile or do you build a car for comfort and long distance? The idea of the Gran Turismo is this is not a compromise, this a race car that can go long distances and be very comfortable. So in my head, I saw the Mustang with the little GT, all the cars that have the name of the car and then the GT in caps right there next to it. I said this is a canvas that's going to have both a board and a table. Once you get into the app you'll see that there's a board and a table that are the same thing, so we defined the canvas as the board and the table, and the GT is inspired from Gran Turismo, which is inspired from Genius of the AND.

Etienne Nichols: That is so cool. I love that. It's just another example, in my mind, of how Greenlight Guru is going to be an excellent partner, because, that's one of the reasons I'm met Greenlight Guru actually is because I was frustrated with the excel to excel, how do you iterate these things and make your risk actually influence your design. So I just love that. I think that's so cool.

Jon Speer: Well, I think so many people, medical device, product development teams, I think they get into checkbox mode where they're like I got to fill in all the blanks, so to speak. I think this drive or this conventional wisdom that I have to strive toward compliance, unfortunately sucks a lot of creativity out of the process. I think a lot of teams they may not be even cognizant of it, but they are kind of handcuffed, in a matter of speaking because of this mindset that they're in. I think there's how many times I've, well, I can speak for myself, certainly, I can tell you numerous times, especially early in my career, where I was given a prototype or a cocktail napkin sketch, and more or less, I just implemented that product. I didn't go through any sort of creative process or brainstorming or really collaboration. It was really more or less replicating or optimizing what the physician gave me as far as a concept or a prototype. The few times that I did that, the products were not successful. They didn't gain any attraction. Then there was this light bulb, oh humans are classic for conveying a potential solution for a problem that they have. They're not good at describing the problem. I think a CanvasGT type of solution and workflow is an opportunity to help bridge that gap.

Andrew DiMeo: Oh yeah, most definitely. We're implementing the best practices of design thinking, which is really understand the problem, understand the unmet need. Hey, bottom line, we really want to be creative. We've been there, I don't want to be trying to figure out how to do a trace matrix while I'm being creative. Nobody really wants to do that. I really dislike that design controls is like a bad word. It's this arduous administrative task that you're typically doing it in reverse. You're filling in those blanks and it's that check box. I really don't like that point of view. I think that we all appreciate a quality controlled process. I think most of us would appreciate a quality controlled process when it has to do with receiving our meal cooked to the specifications that we want it, the temperature of my steak is right where I want it, and this particular restaurant like nails it every time I, we all appreciate that. I think we should appreciate it a heck of a lot more if it has to do with a medical device that's being implanted into a loved one. I think we should appreciate it a lot more. But the creative process of cooking, think about a master chef that's just got these notebooks of they've been doing the recipe over and over and over and over again. They usually got like all these notes and all these notes and they're being super creative. Then one day they're like, boom, this is the one. Then they memorialize that one. As opposed to the way we do it. I can't speak for you guys, but we're creative in the kitchen and we get a meal and then we're creative in the kitchen and we get a meal and then one day we're like, I think this is it. Then the next time we're like, wait, how did we do that, you know?

Etienne Nichols: Yeah.

Andrew DiMeo: We made a tweak last time, but I don't remember what that tweak was. The time before that, I think we made another tweak. So gosh, it's like can we just be creative and can we have those notes just captured? Because one day we're going to want to memorialize it realize it and say," Yes, this is the one." So just to have the chef's notebook, in many ways this is like CanvasGT. It's just the chef's notebook. Just be creative, do your work, and oh by the way, all those changes you've been making over the past months or years are getting captured in this pseudo informal place that's capturing all your notes in a nice, organized framework that when you're ready, you'll be ready. When you're ready, oh wait, arduous task to define my needs? Nope, they're done. We got them done. So-

Jon Speer: But I think that's the magic, if you will. First of all, I think a lot listening might say this is hearsay, creativity in a regulated environment, those things are not possible. But it is possible. Where it breaks down though, is documenting that creativity is where a lot of times this falls to the wayside. A lot of times, creatives, at least in my experience, are always best about documenting things. The CanvasGT concept and the workflow and the framework makes it, I would say, fun, and certainly manageable and certainly tolerable and not so rigid that it's full blown traceability matrix. But it provides that context and shows the thread, so to speak, so that such time... Because at some point in time, you do have to serve that regulatory or that compliance master. You've got to be able to demonstrate that traceability because the people who are looking at your design history file and your documentation and traceability matrix, you got to spoon feed them really, to be honest.

Etienne Nichols: One of the things you said are earlier, John, when you're talking about the problem, it reminded me early in my career, which some people may argue with me that I'm still there, which is fine, but I had-

Jon Speer: You don't have any gray hair, dude.

Etienne Nichols: But I had a boss, it was actually my first boss, I really loved this guy. He always told me," I see what you're trying to do. Is that really solving the problem?" He was always," What's the real problem?" He finally told me one day, he's like," The heart of the problem is the seed of the solution." That just stuck with me. I just love that phrase that he said.

Jon Speer: You had a good mentor.

Andrew DiMeo: Yeah. It's great.

Etienne Nichols: Man. I-

Jon Speer: I learned by trial and error, making mistakes, which there's something to be said for that too, but it's good to have that mentor to push you.

Etienne Nichols: Oh yeah. He was a great guy, still is a great guy. I could call him today if I wanted to. But one of the things I wanted to ask you, John, was you already Andrew a little bit before this partnership went down. I was curious, how did that conversation go and what did that look like?

Jon Speer: Well, Andrew didn't call me the day he came up with this concept, but I think I read a blog post or something. It was a nonverbal exchange of information. I was reading it and I was like," Oh my goodness." I think immediately I said," Hey, let's find some time to talk." The was probably, order of magnitude, a couple years ago when this concept for CanvasGT, I first learned about it. Soon thereafter, I know we did a podcast episode. I think we might have had Andrew, you did a webinar, I think too, right?

Andrew DiMeo: A webinar, yeah.

Jon Speer: Yeah. Etienne, remind me, we'll find the link to that webinar and post it because I think it really conceptualizes what we're talking about and the CanvasGT product quite well. So we did that. But it was an idea at that stage. Andrew had not reduced the idea to practice or to a functional prototype. But we kept to touch. One day he said," Hey, I'm going to start a company around this idea." I'm like," I think that's fabulous." At every step along the way we kept in contact and in touch with one another. A while back, we said," Greenlight and Canvas, they're like peanut butter and chocolate. They have to go together." So we worked out some details of a business relationship. Then as things turned out, things were happening on the Greenlight side of things with our partnership JMI Equity, and some other things that are going on to grow our business, and it only made sense, let's bring CanvasGT into the fold of Greenlight. Let CanvasGT still develop this product, but do so in a framework or in a context that actually just dovetails with the existing workflows within Greenlight. That's my take of how this came to be. I mean, maybe Andrew has a different take crosstalk.

Etienne Nichols: Yeah, Andrew, what was your perspective?

Andrew DiMeo: Yeah, very similar. Agree with all of that. I can't tell you how excited I am to be on the same team with Greenlight Guru and the way this worked out. We formally incorporated on February 7th, 2020, so it's not that long ago, but it was right before the March everything closes. Right after that, it was like the bat phone, I got a phone call from the NIH saying," Hey, we're standing up this program called RADx, Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostic Tests for COVID." They were pulling in thought leaders and advisors to help get these new, innovative products to the market very fast, like the fastest innovation cycle you've ever seen. So how can you say no? You have to say yes to this. It's the opportunity of a lifetime to do the most important work that I've ever done. So here I am working around the clock. It was seven days a week with the NIH RADx program. Oh, and we have a startup company that we're bootstrapping. In February, we talked, I looked at my calendar, John. I want to say that we had a conversation probably a week after the incorporation just to say," Hey, yeah." It was an idea, literally an idea in February 2020. I've got three team members, all four of us are with Greenlight Guru now, two developers and a UIUX designer/ project manager/ product owner slash-

Etienne Nichols: Slash everything.

Andrew DiMeo: ...everything. Yeah. So all of us had other things, other jobs. So we bootstrapped CanvasGT on nights and weekends for what would become 22 months at the point the acquisition is happening. Around 18 months, it was real, you could use it, we had users using it, and I realized we have to raise money. We can't do this on nights and weekends. So from my perspective, there was this concern. I believed that what we had was a platform technology that with the wrong investor it could be pivoted to hey, medical devices is really hard, why don't we do some other industry sector that would be easier. Part of me felt like, okay, this is okay, it's a good place to be as an entrepreneur to know that we have a business that can a lucrative business. But there was this twinge of the inspiration medical industry, that's from the beginning, this is where we want it to go and I knew with traditional financing that would be a potential risk. So when the conversation started to ensue like," Hey, should we be on the same team?" Why would 18 months into a new startup be talking about an acquisition? Why would we even be considering that? The thought that was running trough my mind was this ensures the mission. We've got synergistic vision to improve quality of life, medical device industry, it ensures that it gets to the users that inspired it to begin with, and as fast as possible. With the horsepower of Greenlight Guru it's like every dollar that's going into the business is shooting it right in the right direction with all of the right people around it. So it just became why would we want any other way to finance this business than just to be with the strategic partner.

Jon Speer: I think there's at least a nugget or two of wisdom in there, especially of those listening who might be working for a startup who might be... There's a that mentors of mine talked about from the startup," You have to go through the valley of death." My take on that is you get to the point where you're almost literally looking for extra cash in the cushions of your couch to survive. You got to get through that hump. The temptation for investment is very great. Oftentimes, with startups, they get into a relationship with an investor that's not a good fit for them, but they're so hungry or in need of cash to keep the thing going that they don't all always think clearly. They're more lured by the idea of getting the capital and they may not find out for several months later that, man, that's not the right partner for them. So, a nugget I want people, especially those startups listening, when you're seeking that investment, find partners, strategic partners that are going to align with your mission. I would also say for those who might be acquiring companies or making investments into companies, do the same thing. Don't just throw dumb money at the problem and hope that it works out, Make sure your interests are aligned.

Etienne Nichols: One of the things I'm pretty impressed with what you said too is from an engineer standpoint, the fact that these tools are being built to make life a little bit easier for the engineer themself, working on medical to device products. I had some friends who went to SpaceX or different places like that, excellent engineers, these guys are great. I've actually talked to Tom Risch about this, the leader of our fearless medical device gurus here. Just the temptation to leave the medical device industry because of the regulation or the difficulty or always coming up against these difficult tools, going back to what you said earlier, we should be concerned with quality if this is an implant that's going into one of our loved ones. We want the best engineers to stay in this industry, absolutely. So the fact that you dedicated to doing that, to dedicating a tool to the medical device industry, I think is commendable. I think that's really cool. So I appreciate it from my side.

Jon Speer: Well, from the Greenlight point of view, over the years, from day one, I had conviction like med device and there would be questions or inquiries what about pharma, about this? What about that? I'm like, okay, maybe there's needs there, but I'm passionate about medical device. By the time we started Greenlight I'd been in the industry for, hang on, I got to do some quick math, 15 plus years at that point, about 15 years. But that's what I was passionate about. There are needs, there continue to be needs in the medical device industry, not just products, of course, but things to make life easier for the medical device professionals. There's still a lot of opportunity. That's our mission at Greenlight is continue to solve problems that address the needs of medical device professionals.

Andrew DiMeo: Yeah. It's so important. Those people that leave the medical device industry, this is in many ways rooted in the inspiration when I worked in the medical device industry or for large medical device companies as a design engineer way back at the beginning of my career. I saw the most creative, young engineers join the company and then get worn out by the regulations and leave.

Jon Speer: Yeah.

Andrew DiMeo: I remember I was hired to teach the design class at NC State. Back then, nobody was doing, I shouldn't say nobody, there was a couple of programs doing a couple of different things. There was programs like Stanford Biodesign that were putting students into hospitals, these were postgraduate students. There was a couple of programs that had say a quality system implemented in the classroom, but it was incredibly few and far between. So I implemented both of those on the very first day of class and said," Hey, look, we're going to go into the hospitals to find our unmet needs and we have a quality system and design controls in this classroom." The students had no idea. They'd never even heard of design controls. It's amazing, you can probably still today get a biomedical engineering degree and not know what design controls is. You can be a founder of a startup company and not know design controls are. You're like looking down the road to your 5- 10k. At any rate, I remember looking at these kids and saying," Look, the future of humanity depends on the most creative of you to stick in this industry." Go and work as design engineers for medical device companies and bring your creative talents there, and stay there. I wanted to say," Look, here's the regulations. Your job is to be creative and you can do both." So we're like Genius of the AND. You can do both of these things. Yeah, it's not fair that we don't necessarily have the tools to do it, so can we create tools so that it's fun. They want to be there, they can say," Yeah, of course there's these regulations. They're incredibly important, and we've got some tools that allow us to do our work and be creative, and stay here," right?

Etienne Nichols: Yeah. So did any of these students, did they come up with or see those unmet needs and fill those, or any stories about that?

Andrew DiMeo: Oh yeah. We've got multiple startup companies that have come out of the classroom.

Etienne Nichols: Wow.

Andrew DiMeo: The most successful of those is a company called 410 Medical and they're located in Durham, North Carolina. But those were students working with a clinician, clinician had an idea, we reduced his idea to the problem to be solved, and then went through the creative process. We had invention disclosures going to the university. We were breaking records for how many invention disclosures we were sending to the tech transfer office year after year after year. Then out of those, you'd have a handful try to start companies. Then you had another handful that actually did start companies. Then you got a couple that have been successful out of that bunch, so yeah.

Etienne Nichols: That's really encouraging to hear. That's cool. Okay, so just to do kind of a hard shift, we have these questionnaires we give people who ask questions and things. One of the things that you had mentioned there was that you like" Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance". John's actually talked about my bookshelf. I just read this a couple months ago. Got any thoughts on that?

Andrew DiMeo: So it's a bit of a broken record. I read" Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" when I was young, a kid in college. I didn't know at the time that I was holding the Genius of the AND in my hands. But this is what is the motorcycle? Is it this classical thing? Is it this romantic thing? It's both of those things. The thing that I really like about" Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" is it defines quality in it. The whole book is defining what is quality, what is good. This idea that there's both, I'll say qualitative and quantitative good, how do you grade a piece of art or a literary piece of work for being a quality piece of work versus a math problem being correct is the good one. The Genius of the AND is bringing these things together and saying,"Yeah, look, this is the same thing." This thing that is made up of nuts and bolts and a transmission and an engine and cylinders, this technical thing is this piece of art. It's beautiful too. It's both of these things. The idea of good being it improves health, we seek good. It feels good. I think instinctually, we know to have shelter or to be warm, to eat like, this is good. So this idea that you can hear music and be like this is good, like this meal is good, that art is good, that motorcycle is good. So this idea of defining quality in both that classical and romantic way in which it's defined or described in that book, I think just does a masterful job of teaching genius of AND around the idea of quality. So it's like, yeah, if you're in medical devices, this should be required reading.

Etienne Nichols: The true crosstalk.

Jon Speer: Well it might be required reading for anyone. It's kind of one of those life books, I think. I'm not going to spoil it, I promise folks. But what I appreciated the most about" Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" is this father is going on this journey with his son, and other folks are with them too, but the son is... Well, it's just cool to see how the son, his perspective changes as the journey progresses, because I think he just thought that he was going ride with his dad on a motorcycle for a while. Then there's maintenance along the way, figuring out where you're going to stay, figuring out where you're going to eat and all these sorts of things, so that interpretation of quality evolves throughout that journey.

Etienne Nichols: It's something I've been interested to talk to the leaders of Greenlight Guru really about because true quality is one of our values. I've always wondered as we talk through quality, we have a little bit of a discussion sometimes with the gurus on the guru side, what is quality? Doing the right thing every time, we talk about it. Yeah. That's cool. You know quality when you see it. The medical device industry itself almost seems to be that juxtaposition, the Genius of AND, both things working in tandem.

Jon Speer: The creative crosstalk.

Andrew DiMeo: Can you measure it, yeah. You know it, when you see it, but can you measure it? Yeah. I've defined innovation. This is another thing, to improve quality and reduce cost this is an equation for innovation. So if you use the"Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" and the ideology of the word good, which comes from the Latin" bene" which means to" do good too", so I'm like, okay, so quality is what is good is to do good too from bene, increase benefits, oh yeah, benefits over costs. Oh yeah. benefits over costs, that makes sense. What is doing good? What is to do good? I said," Well, that's to be caring." If you care, like you're caring, you're doing good. Then I'm thinking like what's the cost's piece and I go through the ideology of cost and I get too thoughtful. So it's like caring over thoughtful. It's like if you can be caring and thoughtful then you're going to be innovative.

Jon Speer: You talking about that, speaking of Venn diagrams reminds me of the classic speed, quality, costs Venn diagram. I don't know if it's convention wisdom, but there is this pervasive thinking around that, that you can pick two. I guess in my mind, I'm like, well why can't I have all three?

Andrew DiMeo: You can.

Jon Speer: You can. Right. I think this is as CanvasGT, the workflow and integrates with the Greenlight workflow. I think medical device product development, this is my prediction Etienne, so do a little prognostication, but I think medical device product developers are going to find that in using this concept and these workflows that are designed for them, that they can have speed, they can address it quickly and hey can do it cost effectively without sacrificing or compromising quality along the way.

Etienne Nichols: I think that's a good stopping point. Andrew, did you have anything you wanted to add?

Andrew DiMeo: No, that's-

Etienne Nichols: All right.

Andrew DiMeo: ...beautiful. Yeah, that's a beautiful ending.

Etienne Nichols: I'm excited for the future of Greenlight Guru and CanvasGT. This is a bit of a peak into what the future holds, but I hope it's been of interest to you all today. So until next time, you've been listening to the Global Medical Device Podcast.

 


 

ABOUT THE GLOBAL MEDICAL DEVICE PODCAST:

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The Global Medical Device Podcast powered by Greenlight Guru is where today's brightest minds in the medical device industry go to get their most useful and actionable insider knowledge, direct from some of the world's leading medical device experts and companies.

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Nick Tippmann is the Chief Marketing Officer for Greenlight Guru, a MedTech Lifecycle Excellence Platform (MLE) that provides an industry-specific solution to help medical technology innovators around the world use quality as an accelerator to move beyond baseline compliance and achieve True Quality. Tippmann is...

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