The Most Common Mistakes Made by Medical Device Startups

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The Combined Wisdom of 61 Medical Device Pros

What you are about to learn is what 61 medical device pros think are the most common and most deadly mistakes made by medical device startups.

I am a member of a number of LinkedIn Groups, and follow the discussions to learn what my peers feel are the key business issues and pick up the latest best practices.  One of my favorite LinkedIn Groups is the “Medical Devices Group.”  This group is excellent because it is well curated, and because it is well curated it draws a lot of intelligent conversation.  Recently there was a discussion with the title – “Startups: Top three common mistakes that startup companies make.”   I couldn’t resist clicking on this, nor could a large number of other members.  There were over sixty comments from industry luminaries, sharing their opinions on which are the most common (and, I presume, the most fatal) of all mistakes that plague medical device startups.


At the time of this writing, there were 66 comments that covered over 25-pages when transferred to word processing software.  To make some sense out of the discussion, I tallied the comments.  For example, eleven of those who commented wrote that a poor team is the best way to scuttle a startup.  Of course, each person had their own way of expressing their view, but that was the essential message from eleven of my peers, and the most referenced sin that would lead a startup astray.


Next, many of the comments were related, and could fit into one of the following categories*:

  • Planning – Errors of planning, not planning, bad planning, extravagance, underestimating cost and time requirements,  etc.
  • Product Marketing – Not following a good product marketing process, not  enough early prototyping, testing assumptions, and not understanding  the market
  • Team – Poor selection of team, or not respecting  the input of good capable team members
  • Technology Worship –  Developing technology over product considerations,
  • Funding – Insufficient funding, under capitalized projects.
  • Greed
  • Bad luck

(*Note – These were not the categories that you or I might think are the most important, but the  discussions clearly  steered in these directions.)


And, the envelop please….



I and my colleagues at MarketSpace, have our own ideas from our collective 100+ years of experience that will be the subject of future articles.  For example, we find that the industry giants are prone to many of the same mistakes (with the exception of being underfunded).  Perhaps the biggest difference is, while a first class blunder may not rattle a device giant, a minor misstep can be fatal to the more fragile startup.


Thanks to all of you who cast your votes and made your opinion known.  And, my deepest sympathy to the companies that formed the examples!



About the Author:

Dave Bertoni is a strategic marketing professional with extensive senior management experience in multi-national corporate as well as startup environments. In the last 25-years he has brought over a dozen technical products to domestic and international markets, as well as forming and funding three high-tech startups. He helps medical technology and high tech firms to uncover new opportunities, establish clear goals, overcome difficult business challenges and achieve sales and margin targets.
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