“George, you’re not thinking big enough” — This quote is so fitting for any startup, because at the end of the day if you’re not working on something that radically changes the status quo you will not be successful. Randy always pushes me and my co-founder to stop thinking small and go after bigger problems or offer bigger solutions
As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing George Kramb, Co-Founder and CEO of Rightdevice.
George has spent his entire life in the healthcare industry and one day noticed a serious problem in the OR, and chose to fix it. Taking what he knows from the medical device industry he created Rightdevice, the first patient-facing platform of medical devices. George is passionate about patient care and wants patients to have a voice in their surgical journeys.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
I am incredibly excited to be a part of this and share what I am up to. Before starting Rightdevice I was a medical device rep, selling devices to surgeons up and down the west coast. What most people don’t know is, as a device rep I was in the OR’s assisting surgeons during the cases ensuring the product/technique was being executed accurately. By basically living in operating rooms I learned a tremendous amount about how various surgeries were performed, what technique were being used, and a deep understanding of the product landscape. With all of this experience I took this information and would assist my friends, family, loved ones needing any kind of surgical intervention. I would help them find the best surgeons, using the best techniques, and ensure they receive the most superior product on the market. Finally, years later it hit me, why does it take an insider like me to have access to this information when these procedures are happening by the thousands across the nation. This was the reason why I started rightdevice. I saw too many patients being taken advantage of because they simply do not know. I am too passionate about the advancement of healthcare too see patients suffer because of a lack of information.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
Simply put, the healthcare industry is designed to keep patients out of the loop. The terminology is tough to comprehend, trying to find quality and reliable information is nearly impossible, and patients have no idea about the actual product that will live inside of them. Ultimately, most patients know very little about their surgery and the Rightdevice platform solves this. Adding on an additional value for patients, we have built a patient advocacy program called the PatientPartner which gives incoming patients the ability to connect with and hear from former patients who have already gone through their same procedure. Through all of this engagement we are collecting true patient satisfaction scores revolving around the device and surgeon of each patient.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Easily the funniest story in our Rightdevice journey was how we raised over a million dollars hosted on a WIX site. My cofounder and I are not developers and had such a challenging time working with international software engineers that we turned to an off-the-shelf website building platform. It was partly functional and only worked correctly when we were controlling the ship. When pitching investors, my cofounder and I had a very specific pathway through the site so it functionally worked. The lesson we learned from this is, VC doesn’t always invest in products, they want to invest in people and the founders. We were able to sell the idea/vision/dream of Rightdevice that was hosted on a crappy WIX site.
We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
We have had numerous mentors who have stepped up and have pointed us in the correct path. One of our first advisors/mentors was actually a customer of ours at the largest medical device company in San Diego. We spent months selling him on the product and after our 5 meeting he asked us if he could join our company. It was completely out of left field, but he turned out to be a great mentor and a wealth of knowledge about the internal workings of our customers.
Another mentor of mine is Randy Ditzler who was a former partner at Sequoia Capital serial entrepreneur. Randy has been an incredible advisor and mentor for me as he always challenges me to think bigger with our mission and company, its one of his strongest attributes. Additionally, he is not afraid to set me straight and call me out on my BS, which I appreciate (most of the time).
In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?
Absolutely, take for example in the healthcare industry look at companies like 23andMe or Ancestry’s DNA testing kit. On the surface it is a great and novel concept to learn about your family history and nationality backgrounds, however what was happening on the backend of those test was misleading. I think patients and users would be very disappointed to see what happens to their DNA data on the backend. Ethics and reputation is so key, and once you deceive people it will be lost.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
What’s the worst that can happen, they say “no”?
When raising our SEED round we pitched countless VC groups and routinely got denied or was told our idea didn’t have merit. I had to constantly remind myself, what is the worst thing that can happen when pitching VC… they say NO. It sounds funny, but it gave me the motivation to keep meeting with investors and pitch our company.
“George, you’re not thinking big enough”
This quote is so fitting for any startup, because at the end of the day if you’re not working on something that radically changes the status quo you will not be successful. Randy always pushes me and my co-founder to stop thinking small and go after bigger problems or offer bigger solutions
“Focus on delighting your customers”
This is a classic Warren Buffet quote but it couldn’t be more true. So many investors and advisors are worried about CAC or scalability (which are important) but making sure your user/customer are absolutely delighted is the key to any business.
Lead generation is one of the most important aspects of any business. Can you share some of the strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?
We actually reverse engineered our lead generation process. Our paying customers are both surgeons and medical device companies and getting meetings with either is rather challenging. So instead of endless cold-calling we have patients do the hard work for us. We have patients going to their surgeon selling our program to them directly. Its been the best tactic for us.
We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?
I love working on side projects, and most of them are kinda silly. For example I am manufacturing a kids pool toy that is inspired from my 5 year old boy. It’s a military style inflatable tank that has a large water cannon attached to the barrel, it’s absolutely epic. Other than that my CoFounder and I have an additional technology for no touch check-in product, which is in development still.
Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?
“The Pitch” is a podcast that I listen to routinely. It is a very accurate representation of what it is like pitching to Venture Capitalist and helps me get into the shoes of what investors are looking for. Plus I’m just fascinated on what people are working on.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Without a doubt its Theodore Roosevelts “Man in the Arena”, this quote has stuck with me since my early 20s’. From suddenly becoming a father by the age of 23, getting fired/laid off from my first three jobs, to starting my own HealthTech company with 6 employees, my early career has been full of consistent challenges. This quote is incredibly relatable to me in both my personal and professional life.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would love to give the world access to technology. There are countless countries that do not have access to leading technologies or software’s and we as a race are missing out on large potential.
How can our readers follow you online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
Super happy to take part in this, looking forward to staying in touch.