“Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to dig a well,” Tim Herbert, president and CEO of Inspire Medical Systems, says this mantra sums up his success at building relationships with investors. Herbert leveraged connections, such as board members, for initial introductions to potential investors and then kept in touch, continuing to inform those he met on company progress. Inspire successfully raised $40 million in 2014 from investors on both coasts. Its new implantable device treats obstructive sleep apnea by detecting breathing patterns and stimulating the upper airway to keep it open during sleep. The company just celebrated their 100th commercial implant in December 2014.
Inspire Medical Systems is one example of the many promising start-ups in Minnesota. In Herbert’s words, “We’re a PMA company, but in Minnesota we are familiar with the PMA pathway, and that doesn’t intimidate those who want to support us or finance us. We have the talent, experience, know-how and ability to generate new ideas. That’s the environment here.”
Herbert believes Minnesota can attract money to the state by highlighting its critical differentiator from other markets – the talent. “In Minnesota, you’re not fighting with other start-ups for the same limited pool of qualified employees experienced in medical device technology; you’re recruiting directly from established companies. Furthermore, these are individuals who want the opportunity to work for an emerging company,” said Herbert.
Given the quality of companies and talent that exist in Minnesota, Herbert believes there is an opportunity to elevate Minnesota’s health technology community by raising awareness of the talent and experience and by facilitating introductions with active medical device VCs.
View the 2014 Annual Investment Report