Beyond the Pitch

Minimally Invasive Devices expects sales boost with new product, Mitsubishi distribution deal

By Carrie Ghose, as originally published in Columbus Business First

To get past hospital purchasing departments focused on up-front costs more than long-term savings, Minimally Invasive Devices Inc. has had to beat its competition on both price and quality.

Still, sales are growing for the Columbus company’s FloShield system, which keeps the camera lens clear during laparoscopic surgery, inventor and CEO Dr. Wayne Poll told me.

Poll expects more boosts from a product that’s now compatible with the da Vinci surgical robot system by Intuitive Surgical Inc. (NASDAQ:ISRG) and a distribution deal announced this week with the medical division of Mitsubishi Corp. to launch sales in Japan and Korea.

Poll invented the system based on his own frustrations as a surgeon, frequently stopping to withdraw, clean and re-insert the surgical camera through a small incision. But what the sales force has learned, he said, is it’s not enough to emphasize long-term savings that could come from reducing operation times and potential complications.

“Hospitals are sensitive to those issues, but not to the level at which these decisions are made,” he said. “Supply chain (departments are) given a mantra: Spend less and that’s it.”

So the company rolled out a new generation of FloShield with fewer features that still keeps lenses clear. It competes with products that clean lenses after they are fogged and smeared and cost $50 to $150.

“Our new product costs $50 and we stop the problem from actually occurring,” he said.

The next step once the product is accepted is to persuade hospitals that the extra features are worth the price of the higher-end model.

The company does not release revenue figures or whether it has reached profitability.

The Mitsubishi deal could increase its potential market by 50 percent, Poll said. Sales in Japan and Korea are expected to start next year.

Mitsubishi also believes that it could sell more of its own surgical video equipment if paired with FloShield, Poll said. He’s also seeking distributors in Europe and Russia.

Minimally Invasive Devices’ factory in Franklin in southwest Ohio expanded over the winter to 10,000 square feet, enabled by an $11.5 million fundraising round last year. The company is in a new financing round for an undisclosed amount, Poll said.


For the original article in Columbus Business First, please click here

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