The New Face of Manufacturing: A Q&A with MedShape's Ken Gall and Kurt Jacobus
Q: Tell us about how the idea for your company, MedShape, was born.
We met in the 1990s while studying mechanical engineering at the University of Illinois where we shared an interest in inventing new materials. After college, we reconnected when Ken, a former athlete, set out to make a product that created synergy between human performance and sports medicine. In 2005, we founded MedShape out of VentureLab, a Georgia Institute of Technology incubator that brings faculty, staff, and students’ research and ideas to market. Since then, the company has evolved into the leading manufacturer of orthopedic devices that utilize advanced material technologies. MedShape’s vision is to create innovative solutions to problems encountered with current orthopedic implants and surgeries.
Q: R&D played an important role in the startup of your company. Tell us more about that, and how important R&D is to your company’s success today.
Investing in research and development isn’t a luxury for us—it’s absolutely critical. Not only do we perform applied research to develop new and innovative products for the medical industry, we conduct basic research funded by federal grants to support our fundamental business. Because of the unique technologies that underpin our products, our research often looks like basic science and our development looks like many companies’ research. We work hard to develop a fundamental understanding of our materials, products, and the surgeries that they enable.
Q: What advice do you have for innovators with big ideas but no experience in bringing a concept to market?
Have confidence and passion in what you want to achieve and bring on great people to work with you. There are a lot of ups and many more downs when starting a new business, but don’t be afraid to try new things. Make sure to properly finance your business, but always have a backup plan. Growing a business with limited financing sources is difficult. Ask for help when needed, or you may miss out on opportunities.