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The First 10 Years After the Medical Product Startup: The Hardest?

Thu, 05/13/2010 - 8:56am
Patrick Yi, CEO

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There’s an old saying that “the first million is the hardest.” Presumably, that “million” refers to money and wealth, accumulated by individuals, businesses, or both.

For MediPurpose, the first million in medical product sales was achieved quickly. I started MediPurpose (then known as SurgiLance Pte Ltd) in Singapore in 1999 to sell SurgiLance® Safety Lancets (then known as One-Step Safety Lancets).

By 2001, the first full year of sales, MediPurpose had made its first million; by the end of the next year, that figure had tripled.

I can’t say which million was easier or harder to make as every million and every year in business has presented its own unique challenges.

Reflections on the 10th Anniversary
Yesterday, we published a news release that officially announced our recognition of our 10th year in business, and that has put me in a reflective mood. Ironically, the more I think about the past, the more I think about the future. It also has me thinking about that old saying.

Although money is always on the mind of most people, it is only a small part of the motivation for medical device inventors and medical product innovators and entrepreneurs—or at least myself and the successful ones that I’ve met or read about.

Both then and now, my motivation has mostly been in the quest to achieve something meaningful.

For me—and for that matter, MediPurpose—that has meant solving the riddle that we like to call “from concept to commercialization.” More specifically, it involved taking my brother-in-law’s innovative safety lancet from the “good idea” phase in 1999 to what it is now: one of the world’s most popular safety lancets.

Prior to MediPurpose, I had zero experience with medical products—developing them, marketing them or distributing them. However, I did have experience in taking things “from concept to commercialization” such as the Singapore NETS debit card service. The opportunity to test my intuition and the versatility of my problem solving skills with my brother-in-law’s innovation was too tempting to resist.

Ten years later, after selling millions of dollars and more than a half-billion SurgiLance® Safety Lancets, that urge to test myself has never faded. In fact, it’s as strong as ever, especially as I look back on the past 10 years and continue to focus on the next 10 years and beyond.

It may be true that the first million was the hardest. The same can be said for the first years. During that period, I was too busy trying to get MediPurpose into the black to think much about whether I was doing things right, and the thrill of achieving each milestone sustained my efforts.

Now that I have some security and confidence with what I do in the medical product arena—especially as I now guide MediPurpose into new directions with our Medical Device Innovation and Medical Product Distribution Services divisions—I don’t expect the next 10 years to be any less difficult, stressful or challenging. Then again, I wouldn’t be doing this if it weren’t!

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