Monday, March 1, 2010

How I... Dreamed Big in Ohio -- From the pages of Wall Street

[waynepoll] Minimally Invasive Devices
Wayne Poll, M.D., founder of Minimally Invasive Devices, Inc.
Who: Wayne Poll, M.D.
What: Minimally Invasive Devices, Inc., a company that develops devices that assist doctors during laparoscopic surgery
Where: Columbus, Ohio
Web site:
Year founded: 2006
Number of employees: 7
Annual revenue: $90,000 in 2009

Everyday, loads of people have great ideas that could potentially become a profitable business venture. The real challenge is what to do next: how do you make an idea into a marketable product? (As Thomas Edison famously said, "Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.")
When Dr. Poll of Columbus, Ohio, wanted to develop FloShield, a device that improves visibility for doctors performing laparoscopic surgery, he knew going to a major company such as Johnson & Johnson or Boston Scientific would be a dead end. Dr. Poll, a surgeon and urologist for 20 years, had gone that route in the past and was wary of the process. "It's very frustrating when you approach big medical device companies with an idea," he says. "I decided that the only way that I would have any control over my project was to develop it myself."
So Dr. Poll took matters into his own hands and decided to start his own company, Minimally Invasive Devices, Inc., in 2006. The next hurdle: finding funding. Start-ups in technology, biotechnology and other industries have long had an advantage when located in investor-heavy regions of California and Massachusetts -- but this is not traditionally the case for the Midwest. Luckily for Dr. Poll, central Ohio is now emerging as a new and growing region for the tech sector, and offers a network of incubator programs available to start-ups.
"Ohio has a very robust and helpful web of resources available to entrepreneurs," he says. "It really made the difference for my company, getting where it is today." Dr. Poll tapped TechColumbus, a nonprofit that fosters technology-based economic development in central Ohio, for advice and received help with developing a business plan. Next, he entered a few business-plan competitions that garnered attention from investors, and was able to attain the initial funding from angel investors to develop the FloShield product. Now, a few years later, Minimally Invasive Devices has landed a national distribution deal for FloShield with a company called CareFusion. Dr. Poll says that they are anticipating that sales for 2010 will reach $1 million.
He attributes much of this growth to the resources available in his region. "In Columbus, when you're a small company, you feel like you're a big fish in a big pond," he says. "You don't get lost among the redwoods like you would in Boston or New York."
Fast Fixes features an entrepreneur who thinks outside the box to solve a routine problem or a major obstacle in his or her small business. If you'd like to be considered, click here.
Write to Michelle Wu at


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