When Bryce Klontz started his role as CEO and President of New View Surgical six years ago, he already had two decades of medtech experience under his belt. Experience he’s since leveraged to close out a successful Series B round of financing and secure 510(k) FDA clearance.
Before joining New View, Bryce was the Vice President of Commercial Strategy and Emerging Markets for Covidien. There, he expanded the medical devices conglomerate across Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East.
Under Bryce’s leadership, New View is pioneering laparoscopic technology. Their VisionPort combines the laparoscope, camera, light, and access port into a single instrument that promises to slash the cost and preoperative time of a laparoscopy.
The device also shows the potential to reduce the number of incisions needed for some surgeries and widen access to the surgery by making laparoscopic technology easier to transport to the patient’s location.
These innovations garnered New View Surgical widespread recognition. At the Keiretsu Forum Investor Capital Expo in 2020, angel investors selected New View as the “Most Valued Company.” Funding and regulatory successes followed, with the business attracting over $14 million in total capital and securing 510(k) clearance.
In this interview, Bryce Klontz shares insights from his decades of experience in the surgical devices space, from building relationships of trust with regulators and investors to working closely with practitioners to perfect product-market fit.
With over 20 years of experience working in the surgical device space from Canada to Singapore, Bryce Klontz brings a tactical advantage to his role as the CEO of New View Surgical. Under his leadership, New View Surgical has closed a successful Series B with a cumulative total of $14.5 million in investments and secured 510(k) clearance along the way. He previously worked as the VP of Commercial Strategy for Emerging Markets at Covidien in addition to leadership roles at several other startups.
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Key Takeaways from Bryce’s Experience
- Be laser-focused on product-market fit. Building great teams and creating innovative technologies are crucial, but ultimately, meeting the needs of both the patient and practitioner must be the priority.
- Go deep when gathering data. You’ll learn a lot more by forming long-term relationships with a select number of practitioners than by collecting data from far and wide.
- Investing in relationships and effective communication are essential to both fundraising and regulatory approval. It’s crucial to understand the incentives of those sitting across the table so you can help them help you.
- Investors know that the path to profitability is rocky. Being transparent with them about the challenges you face builds your credibility and furthers your goals.
Leverage Your Experience at Large Strategics to Accelerate Start-up Success
Bryce likes to say that start-ups “bookended” his career. Straight out of college, he joined a cardiovascular startup in his native Boston, PLC Medical Systems, as a marketing manager.
The appeal of guiding early-stage companies is the opportunity to build something new. He agreed to join New View six years ago to “see if I could build something, bring a product to market that excites me, and just learn from that experience.”
In between his time at start-ups, Bryce spent a decade honing his skills at Covidien, one of the world’s largest producers of surgical devices.
He spent time there heading up marketing efforts in emerging economies as the VP of Marketing for Asia and VP of Commercial Strategy for Emerging Markets.
When he returned to the start-up world, first at Woven Orthopedic Technologies and then as CEO of New View, he brought his hard-earned expertise with him.
In his words, “I think some of that vulnerability and that willingness to open communications with the confidence of a 25-year career and also just the understanding that the journey is not going to be smooth and trusting that people know that already.”
Product-Market Fit Must Come First
For Bryce, building a successful medtech start-up is all about a disciplined focus on product-market fit. “You might have an interesting idea, cool technology, and an alpha prototype. But does it meet the expectations of the end user, the customer, and not only the clinical user but the economic buyer as well?”
That’s not to say that technology needs to have a viable market to be a great innovation. Rather, not every great technology makes a great business.
“You can build a great product with a great team, but if you can’t ultimately sell that product, drive profitable revenue, and scale a business out of it, it’s probably not a good idea to have started that company.”
It’s also not enough to have great product-market fit if that market isn’t large enough to support a scaled business. If only “50 people will buy it. And that’s your market size, Bryce commented, that does not make for a sustainable, scalable business.”
Finding product-market fit is great in theory, but can be very challenging to achieve. The key is to develop as nuanced an understanding of your customer’s needs as possible. At New Vision, they formed long-term relationships with a small number of surgeons to understand how their products were used in practice.
For Bryce, “The real proof of adoption comes if you’re doing 20, 30, 40 cases in a single center with two, three, four surgeons…The deeper you go with single users in hospital, the more you learn.”
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The Power of Relationships
Building relationships is crucial to success in any industry. That’s as true in the medical device space as it is anywhere else.
Bryce credits relationship-building and effective communication for New View’s success with regulators. The company was able to secure 510(k) clearance from the FDA within 2 months of applying.
According to Bryce, working with regulators is all about understanding their goals and incentives. The FDA wants to protect patients, but is also motivated to shepherd new technology to the market where it meets requirements.
Moving innovations through the FDA is about communicating your value and limitations effectively. “The more you can help the FDA in this instance and the regulars understand your technology, the better.”
“A lot of founders that I speak to that are struggling with the FDA, and it's taking a lot of time. Fundamentally it's come down to a misunderstanding with the FDA, a misunderstanding about what the technology is meant to do and how that translates into the indication.”
Building relationships with the FDA as early as possible is also a secret of New View’s success. Bryce recommends taking advantage of Q-sub meetings if you can.
This same concept applies to investors as well.Bryce suggests medtech business leaders should trust that investors appreciate the ups and downs of taking a start-up to market.
“They know you're going to make some poor decisions that you need to navigate through and get back on track. And the more you have a dialogue and an openness with investors. I think the more credibility you can build.”
Big Sky Biomedical is a medtech incubator co-founded by Scott Nelson and a team of serial entrepreneurs and proven operators with a stellar track record of success.
One of their first companies, FastWave Medical, closed on an investment plus milestone-based acquisition agreement within 6 months of forming the entity, a record-breaker in the medical device space.
The incubator model is certainly not a new concept within medtech, but the Big Sky team is doing things a bit differently.
First, their entire team has deep domain expertise in the interventional arena and it's the only sandbox they play in. Second, through their partnership with Switchback Medical, they can often shave 6-12 months off a traditional R&D PDP. Third, their wheelhouse is going from zero to one and their team can leverage capital to kickstart projects quickly and efficiently.
If you're interested in learning more or potentially partnering with the Big Sky team, check out their site right here.