CINCINNATI -- In his 12-year career as a medical device sales representative, Keerthi Kanubaddi learned that most surgeries don’t start on time, often because surgeons don’t have the equipment they need.
It’s the rep’s responsibility to see that if the hospital doesn’t have the right equipment, it can borrow it in time for a procedure. But if the hospital doesn’t let the rep know in time, Kanubaddi said, bad things happen.
About three years ago, he received a 7 a.m. call from a hospital operating room coordinator in a panic, asking him if he had the equipment needed for an operation on a 3-month-old child, who was already under anesthesia. No one told him the procedure had been scheduled.
So instead of the surgeon being able to make a tiny incision, he had to remove part of the child’s skull to perform the surgery, necessitating a blood transfusion and an additional cost of $66,000. “That lapse was so costly, and the child had to go through this because we didn’t have our stuff together. That really upset me,” he said.
What did he do about it?
In August 2014, he started ReadySet Surgical, which helps hospitals keep surgeries on time by ensuring they borrow the right equipment for each procedure -- and once they borrow it, can keep track of it. Hospitals borrow about 20 percent of the equipment they use, Kanubaddi said.
How does it work?
The company’s software creates a calendar that both device reps and hospital administrators can see at the company’s website, www.readysetsurgical.com. The calendar shows what procedures have been scheduled and what equipment has been ordered for them. If a device rep doesn’t respond to a request for equipment, the system notifies him via email or text message. Once inside the hospital, the borrowed equipment is identified via label with a QR code that can be scanned by any smartphone.
How does it make money?
Hospitals pay a fee to use the system – about $10 per surgery. There are just two clients now, Kanubaddi said – Dayton Children’s Hospital and New England Baptist Hospital in Boston. But 140 others have expressed interest, he said. And next month, the company begins a joint marketing campaign with Materials Management Microsystems, the largest device tracking company in the country, which is in 650 hospitals. Kanubaddi declined to say how much revenue the company made last year but said he expects to have 50 hospitals signed up by the end of this year.
Who are the investors?
Kanubaddi himself. The 40-year-old Union resident has invested his $250,000 life savings in the business. “It has to work,” he said. The company has also raised a seed round of $1 million from angel investors, he said, and still has about $500,000 of that left.
Are there employees?
There are two full-time and two part-time employees and three software developers, who work full-time but on a contract basis. Kanubaddi plans to add three more full-timers this year, including a vice president of sales whom he has already identified and hopes to hire this month.
What’s been the biggest challenge?
Getting interviews with hospital officials. “We see a really good response, once we get in front of them,” Kanubaddi said.
He hopes to get the word out by connecting with group purchasing organizations, which are conglomerations of hospitals that negotiate deals with vendors. Also, he wants the company to start doing professional training for hospital employees who sterilize instruments and “make that the reason why people know our company.”
What’s owning your own business like?
He expected it to be the hardest thing he’d ever done, he said, and it has been. But Cincinnati entrepreneur groups such as Cintrifuse, CincyTech, Queen City Angels and the Hamilton County Development Center in Norwood, where ReadySet Surgery has its offices, have been “pretty freaking awesome to us,” he added.
“I’ve never been more motivated on a daily basis,” he said. “I feel like we have a purpose here. People say, ‘We absolutely need this. It’s a game-changer for us.’ So it’s easy for me to stay motivated.”