Ohio Venture - OVA Review Newsletter
News from the Ohio Venture Association meeting on June 14, 2013

OVA's Venture of the Year:

Orthohelix Surgical Designs

Dr. David Kay

Founder & CEO

When orthopedic surgeon David Kay first imagined a better way to help foot and ankle surgeons mend broken bones, he initially had a hard time explaining how such a niche innovation would equal an attractive investment opportunity. "It was very difficult to get this up and going, because at the time medical devices in Northeast Ohio were basically non-existent. Potential funders didn't really understand this, and yet I knew this was going to be a phenomenal opportunity."

It's good that he persevered, because the company he founded, Orthohelix–which produces innovative implantable screw and plate systems used in small bone reconstructive surgery, mostly on the feet and ankles–became a home run, just as he foresaw. Last year it was sold to Netherlands-based Tornier for $135 million.

It also emerged this year from three finalists to be named the OVA Venture of the Year, succeeding last year's winner, Cleveland Heart Lab. AssureRX and Vox Mobile were this year's finalists. This year's awards process drew nominees from around the state.

Like most success stories, the Orthohelix success didn't come quickly. The company was formally founded in 2004, "but I actually started looking into this concept back in 1992," Dr. Kay explained. He credited the company's success mainly to two overarching principles baked into the organization's DNA early: capital efficiency and really understanding the market.

Preserving precious cash helped Orthohelix weather the inevitable storms every start-up faces, including the time it watched in horror as the leader of its largest customer was taken away in handcuffs. Later, it helped the organization sail through the due diligence phase with its acquirer.

Because Dr. Kay is an orthopedic surgeon himself, he kept the company focused on the unique requirements of selling to his demanding peers. "We weren't trying to change the dynamic. We weren't trying to create a paradigm shift. We were trying to bring in better commonly used products, products that are familiar to surgeons. Surgeons are a difficult group. There has to be some familiarity and similarity to what they're currently using. Otherwise, there's going to be pushback on the adoption. You have to understand the market, one of our keys to success."

Dr. Kay thanked his venture investors, Mutual Capital Partners, for stalwart support over the years. "They didn't just write checks, but got in there and mentored the team, and brought in the right people when needed." He added: "I think the subtitle for this talk could be 'venture done right,' because we had a phenomenal, fascinating adventure with our venture investors."

More information:

Webcast from the Meeting:

Click on the image below to view the entire presentation as video.

Video Webcast from Recent Meeting
Webcasts produced by Tom Kondilas.

OVA's Video Archive is Online:

OVA is pleased to offer an archive of program videos to its website. You'll find the full video record of most OVA formal programs since 2008 at www.ohioventure.org/video-archive.html.

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