If you are a doctor or frequent visitor to Optim Orthopedics, you might have already heard of Micro C Imaging. The device is a light, portable, surgically ergonomic handheld camera and synchronized receptor and by holding its handle, a surgeon can direct fluoroscopy and digital imagery to the extremity. In laymen’s terms? It’s a hand-held x-ray. In further terms? It’s pretty darn revolutionary.
Beyond the device itself, Micro C has gained attention as an ATDC Accelerate company and Savannah startup that not only won a couple of local pitch competitions, raised $250,000 in seed money, then another $700,000 – not bad for a company that is just 14 months old. But beyond the accolades and incredibly impressive track record, Micro C is also an incredible team that is transforming innovative medical technology, completely possible due to the leadership of Chief Medical Officer & Co-Founder, Gregory Kolovich, MD, MPH, BSEEE and Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder, Evan Ruff, MBA, BSCmpE.
We sat down with Chief Marketing Officer, Murem Sharpe, to talk about Micro C’s journey, as well as the exciting possibilities of what comes next.
Creative Coast: Talk to us a bit about the decision to start Micro C; what need or gap were you filling?
Murem Sharpe: Dr. Greg Kolovich MD, MPH, is a practicing orthopedic surgeon, specializing in hand, upper extremity, and microsurgery. His invention of the Micro C was driven by his own dissatisfaction with the 50+ year old, bulky X-ray “C-arm” equipment he had to use during surgeries, and especially challenging ones such as hand and finger reattachments. The objective is to offer a fluoroscopy solution for both clinical and surgical applications that is faster, safer (as to radiation emission) and more agile than current technology. In addition, providing extra features such as digital images – still, video and infra-red, make the Micro C a highly versatile device.
Creative Coast: Why did you decide to start Micro C here in Savannah as opposed to elsewhere?
MS: Dr. Kolovich is based in Savannah with Optim Orthopedics. Given his active surgery and clinic practice, it was practical to start up here. He believes it is essential that his every-day engagement with patient cases makes him a better founder/inventor. Since he is a Georgia Tech engineering graduate, he found that the ATDC (Advanced Technology Development Center) of Georgia Tech had programs here for entrepreneurs, including the Startup Bootcamp, in which he participated in early 2016.
Creative Coast: What about Savannah do you feel is a benefit to folks starting their entrepreneurial venture?
MS: Since early feedback from customers is key for any successful venture, there were orthopedic surgeons, and especially hand surgeons here, with whom the team could engage from “day one”. Most Savannah-based ventures can, similarly, find potential customers for early feedback, testing, and adoption. In addition, while the investor community here is not large, the advantage of being in a small city means that the entrepreneur may personally know investors, making it more likely the investors will support the venture.
Creative Coast: How did Micro C end up developing?
MS: The Micro C product design and development has been driven directly by the needs of the user – the hand surgeon. With the key inventor “developing the solution for himself” the founding team focused on the user’s needs from the outset. From Dr. Kolovich’s initial design, he partnered with fellow Georgia Tech engineering graduate, Evan Ruff (CEO), to hone the design, development intellectual property around it, i.e. patents, and move into development.
Creative Coast: What would you say to folks who are either locals and interested in starting their own business or even folks outside of Savannah who are thinking of becoming locals and starting a business here?
MS: Just do it. While larger metropolitan areas have a lot of resources, it is the people in the founding team, including advisors and investors, who can create a bridge to resources anywhere in the United States and internationally. Micro C has tapped into resources in Atlanta, New York, Research Triangle, Silicon Valley and internationally by being open to making connections as opportunities arise. Many of these connections started with introductions made by team members, advisers, and investors based in Savannah now, who came to Savannah from all over the world.
Creative Coast: What’s next for Micro C?
MS: As a medical device, the next major milestone, targeted for end of 2017, is achieving FDA compliance in order to sell the Micro C commercially. A beta testing program by knowledgeable and influential surgeons is underway. The two embodiments of the Micro C, clinical and surgical, will be launched in 2018. Design and development of a battery-operated embodiment for global and rural health is anticipated in 2018. The team continues to participate in key medical industry events, including exhibiting for the second time at the upcoming American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) in March 2018, which will give the Micro C exposure to over 15,000 orthopedic surgeons from the U.S. and around the world.
To learn more about Micro C, visit: http://www.microcimaging.com