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Guru Instruments: Bootstrapping a Medical Device Startup

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Anne S. York
College of Business, Creighton University

Summary and key issue/decision: Guru Instruments is the brainchild of Dr. Sameer Bhatia, a physician in the process of studying for an MBA and a participant in Creighton’s Bioscience Entrepreneurship Program. During the course of his work in the Creighton University pathology lab, Dr. Bhatia found his colleagues constantly improvising, often with spotty success, workarounds to create safer and more useful instruments and accessories. He began designing prototypes of products to solve these problems, beginning with multi-sized rubber and foam reusable grips for scalpels and vinyl rib protectors. He quickly realized that some of these products were useful in live surgery, which created the need for sterilizable versions of the same products. During the course of product development, interesting IP, product manufacturing, and sourcing issues arose, along with decisions regarding the type of financing that was most appropriate for the venture and the best channels for distribution. Essentially, Dr. Bhatia hoped to bootstrap his new company without obtaining significant outside debt or equity financing.

Companies/institutions: Guru Instruments, Creighton University

Technology: Guru Instruments designs, produces, and sources a variety of autopsy and surgery-related devices.

Stage of development at time of issue/decision: The products fall into the FDA classification of Class I and II devices, that is, either not regulated or required to show substantial equivalence. Surgical products, because of the sterilization required for live operations, fall into Class II, while autopsy products, because they are not used on live subjects, fall into Class I. Each device has about a six month development and time to market cycle, with a strategy of continually introducing new products to market.

Indication/therapeutic area: Class I and II medical devices for pathologists and surgeons.

Geography: US-based, with international market potential

Keywords: IP strategies, bootstrapping, new product development, distribution channels, medical devices, financing options

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