Having a desire to solve difficult problems through innovative solutions that directly impact people was just one of the reasons that entrepreneurs, Armen Bakirtzian, Andre Hladio, and Richard Fanson wanted to develop Intellijoint Surgical™,, a company that creates and commercializes miniature 3D measurement technology for surgery.
After hearing an overwhelming response from surgeons when the trio initially had the idea for intellijoint HIP®, there was no question that they had to go forth to create this product which would help improve surgical outcomes in hip replacements. But when developing a medical device, there are a lot of complications and road blocks you have to overcome along the way.
The three co-founders had a mix of engineering backgrounds, Armen studied biomedical engineering, Andre studied mechatronics, electrical and computer engineering, and Richard studied mechatronics engineering and medical robotics, but none had specific experience in the medical field, which was a challenge in itself. Fresh out of school, they were eager and ready to forge their own path and develop a game changing surgical tool, but despite their lack of medical experience, they explained that they are confident that their solution was addressing a problem that no other product was able to do before them. On top of knowing they were developing something that didn’t already exist and was in demand from surgeons, creating a Scientific Medical Advisory Board in the early days gave them access to people they could utilize to ensure their product met the needs of customers in every step of developing their product.
Knowing what to do when and the right cadence for growth, whether it be hiring, entering new markets or product release timing, understanding what to do yourself and what to outsource, and understanding market conditions that will affect their product, were all huge learning curves for Intellijoint. “Our product is truly the first of its kind, and as a result there is no set template or trail to follow,” they explained. “We are often blazing our own trail and learning as we go.”
From taking feedback, and paying attention to the details of their product, intellijointHIP® is now FDA approved and Health Canada licensed and has been used in over 350 surgeries from Halifax to California. This success has led the entrepreneurs to land $14 million in financing from primarily Canadian sources including private investors, institutions and government, and has allowed them to grow from a single desk at an accelerator centre in Waterloo, Ontario to a 10,500 square foot facility with 25 employees and 10 open positions. They’ve also started to build their own trophy shelf by winning awards such as the 2015 Frost and Sullivan Award for Enabling Technology Leadership, and most recently, the Futurpreneur Canada Grit Award presented by Shopify.
We have no doubt that we will continue to watch Intellijoint forge their own path in this industry, and they will continue to inspire other aspiring and current entrepreneurs. As for words of wisdom, they left us with this: “Don’t be afraid of a challenge, whether it is raising capital and/or entering a new market. If you are going to fail, do it quickly, learn from it, and move on.”
For more information about Intellijoint Surgical, click here.
Written By: Lauren Marinigh, Social Media & Content Creation Coordinator, Futurpreneur Canada