Science Entrepreneurship

Episode 131: Scott Snyder, CEO of Geneticure

Photo courtesy of Geneticure.

Photo courtesy of Geneticure.

This week on the podcast we sit down with Rochester native Scott Snyder, CEO of Geneticure. Geneticure is a precision medicine startup that works to reduce the trial and error associated with treatment of hypertension patients. The business was founded by brothers Eric and Scott Snyder four years ago. On the podcast today we talk about the growth of Geneticure from the cofounding team of four to their current twelve-member organization. We also talk about Scott’s leap from executive positions in Target to running a startup with his brother, what opportunities he’s seeing in Rochester’s entrepreneurial scene today, and much more about the reality of entrepreneurship. Geneticure was one of the first interviews I ever did over four years ago, so it was fun to sit down and catch up and learn how both organizations have grown since our first meeting.

“And it got to the point that the promise was so big with what we could do, that the risk for not doing it outweighed the risk for doing it, by a mile. There was no choice. I had to do it.”- Scott Snyder, CEO of Geneticure


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Episode 108: GEW and the Founding Story of Sonex Health

Sonex Health founding member Dr. Darryl Barnes.

Sonex Health founding member Dr. Darryl Barnes.

This week on the podcast we take one final peek back at this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Week and recap one of the best kept tales of Rochester, the founding story of Sonex Health. Sonex Health was launched in 2014 by local physicians Darryl Barnes and Jay Smith alongside business operations expert Aaron Keenan. The company was founded to improve patient outcomes, enhance the patient experience, and increase practice efficiencies, especially in the field of ultrasound guided surgery. Sonex Health addresses compression neuropathies, with specific focus on carpal tunnel syndrome. Their solution, the SX-One MicroKnife with Meerkat Technology, allows physicians to treat carpal tunnel patients in their office, with local anesthetic and 5-millimeter incision in a “walk in, walk out” procedure. This allows patients to recover in 3-6 days instead of the normal 2-6 weeks seen in the current gold standard surgical carpal tunnel practice.  Sonex Health has raised $1.87M in seed funding and $2.5M in a convertible debt round. They are now looking to raise Series A funding to commercialize their product.

Founder Darryl Barnes said the Sonex team was one of the biggest reasons for the success of the company.  He explained, “I think if there’s anything I would say if you’re going to do this is to really partner with people who have a passion for what they do and are able to share the vision.”

Episode 98: 1 Million Cups Rochester with Fit Box Mobile and SuraMedical


This week on the podcast we listen in to some storytelling at the latest 1 Million Cups Rochester, featuring Minnesota companies Fit Box Mobile and SuraMedical. 1 Million Cups Rochester is an educational event for entrepreneurs that takes place in over 178 different entrepreneurial communities across the United States. The next 1 Million Cups Rochester will be held on Wednesday, October 3rd at 9AM in the Bleu Duck Kitchen Event space.


This week on the podcast we hear from:

·      Shane Levernez, owner of Fit Box LLC, a mobile on demand gym. Fit Box delivers a unique fitness experience in an eight-foot shipping container. The business was originally envisioned as a B2B business but has recently morphed into a pop-up fitness event in partnership with local businesses.

·      CEO of SuraMedical, Marja Engel. SuraMedical is developing a medical device to take the guess work out of caring for chronic leg wounds. Their product contains a remote monitoring system, moisture and pressure sensors, and an activity tracker to challenge the current standard of care.

Episode 96: Chris Schad and Discovery Square


Today on the podcast we sit down with Chris Schad, Director of Business Development for Discovery Square. Discovery Square is one of the six Destination Medical Center (DMC) subdistricts and is specifically focused on biomedicine, research, and technology innovation. DMC is the largest public-private economic development initiative in the state of Minnesota to catalyze growth in the Rochester area over the next twenty years.

Today on the podcast we talk about:

·      DMC and the DMC subdistricts.

·      The three current DMC priorities.

·      The dream vision for the Discovery Square DMC subdistrict.

·      How DMC can help entrepreneurs by spreading stories of entrepreneurship on a large scale, identifying gaps in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, and bringing programs like the Assistive Tech Challenge to the region to spur prototype development and ideation.

·      The significance of the topping off ceremony at the first new building in the Discovery Square subdistrict, called One Discovery Square.

·      The value proposition for attracting businesses to Rochester.

·      Additional activities in Discovery Square and Rochester as a whole.

·      Challenges that DMC and the city of Rochester face in implementing this large economic initiative in this city.

“The most exciting [challenge] is the challenge of big expectations. The state is watching us. The state has invested a lot of money in what we’re doing here, and we have to rise to the challenge of those expectations.” -Chris Schad, Director of Business Development, Discovery Square

Call for Opinion Pieces and Press Releases: A Guide for Submissions to Rochester Rising

Episode 78: Community Roundup with gBETA Medtech Accelerator, Minnesota Cup, Sonex Health, and Marblehead Medical


There are so many new, exciting initiatives and developments going on in Rochester and the greater Minnesota community right now. Today on the podcast we take a look at four powerful stories unfolding within the community.


·       First off, we talk about gener8tor and their launch of a brand new medtech specific accelerator, called gBETA Medtech, in Minneapolis. gBETA Medtech is a free, seven-week accelerator program for medtech startups that’s sponsored by Boston Scientific, Mayo Clinic, and the University of Minnesota. The first six companies are currently working through the program; applications for the summer 2018 cohort are now live.

·       Next, we talk about Minnesota Cup and the addition of a new education and training division to this startup competition. This division is focused on businesses developing technology or services related to education, training, and workforce or professional development. Applications for the 14th edition of Minnesota Cup opened on March 26th and will close on April 27th.

●     Then we chat about Sonex Health, a Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator graduate making huge strides in the community. Sonex Health created the SX-One MicroKnife to enable minimally invasive, ultrasound guided carpal tunnel release surgery. Sonex now has grown to a team of five, has graduated out of the Accelerator, and was one of the first recipients of capital from the Southeast Minnesota Angel Fund.

●      Lastly, we take a brief glimpse at Marblehead Medical, an emerging startup, founded by two Mayo Clinic radiologists, that’s treating ischemic stroke through a novel process called mechanical thrombectomy. The team behind Marblehead Medical has designed a balloon-guided medical device for ischemic stroke intervention and is close to locking in a $1M round of financing.


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Episode 64: Dr. Victor Montori and the Patient Revolution


Today on the podcast we talk with Dr. Victor Montori, a Professor of Medicine at Mayo Clinic who recently self-published his very first book called The Patient Revolution for Careful and Kind Care: Why We Revolt. This manifesto calls for a fundamental change in today’s global healthcare system, advocating for patient care that’s kind, careful, and based on love.

“As I tried to write [this book], what kept coming up was not a summary of the research that we had done, but rather was a series of statements, a series of declarations of something bigger, the need for fundamental change in the way healthcare is inflicted on people.” – Dr. Victor Montori

Dr. Montori was raised in Lima, Peru, where he obtained his medical degree. He moved to Minnesota in 1996 to perform his training in Internal Medicine at Mayo Clinic. Dr. Montori is an endocrinologist and health services researcher who has authored over 550 peer-reviewed publications. He’s also the Director of Late Stage Translational Research at the Mayo Clinic Center for Clinical and Translational Science and leads the Knowledge and Encounter Research Center at Mayo Clinic to advance person-centered care for patients with diabetes and other chronic conditions.

Dr. Montori has a deep interest in patient-centered care, working to better understand how to deliver care without disrupting the lives, either by the disease or by the burden of treatment, to his patients. On the podcast today, we talk about his work with The Patient Revolution, an organization that promotes a fundamental change in the way that patient care today is delivered.

We also walk through the core set of values put forth in Dr. Montori’s brand new book, The Patient Revolution for Careful and Kind Care: Why We Revolt and his vision for a healthcare system that’s not based on competition, but on collaboration and conversations, a system that is careful and kind to all.

Dr. Montori will be performing a signing of his book at Café Steam on December 18th.

Episode 59: Transforming Science Education with InSciEd Out

This week on the podcast we take a trip to Lincoln K-8 Public School to speak with the Integrated Science Education Outreach Program, or InSciEd Out. Today we’re joined by Chris Pierret, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Mayo Clinic and InSciEd Out organizer, and Lincoln teachers Liz Koehler and Kyle Casper. On the podcast today we talk about InSciEd Out, an innovative collaborative partnership that is redefining today’s science curriculum, discuss specific science education modules that the program has implemented in Lincoln classrooms, and take a peek at the future of the program.

“InSciEd Out was a great way for us to learn as teachers that it’s ok, we can be scientists too and we learn right along with the students.” –Liz Koehler, Lincoln K-8 Public School science educator

Episode 42: Minnesota Life Science Business Pitch Competition Walleye Tank Travels to University of Minnesota- Part 2

This week on the podcast, we wrapped up the pitches from the latest Walleye Tank. Walleye Tank is a life science business pitch competition in Minnesota. The competition originated in Rochester and took place for the very first time on the University of Minnesota campus this April. Early stage startups compete in two categories: a student “junior angler” division and a more experienced “professional” division. Student and professional division winners received a semifinalist entry into the Minnesota Cup. This Walleye Tank was organized by Dr. Stephen Ekker, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Mayo Clinic, and Carla Pavone, Associate Director of the Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship. Startups were judged by the “Walleyes,” a group of seasoned life science entrepreneurs and investors.

In this podcast, we wrap of the pitches from the Professional division. Check in with podcast Episode 41 for part one of our Walleye Tank coverage.

Episode 41: Walleye Tank Travels to the University of Minnesota- Part 1

This week on the podcast, we listen in to pitches from Walleye Tank, a life science business pitch competition in Minnesota. The third ever Walleye Tank took place this April on the University of Minnesota campus, showcasing the state’s life science startups. Entrepreneurs participated in either a student “junior angler” or professional division, pitching their concepts to a panel of “walleyes”, seasoned life science entrepreneurs and experts. This first portion of a two part series covering Walleye Tank features pitches by Lab Set Go, Synch Medical, Dolore Biotechnology, UVBioGen, Delve Health, and Tear Restore.

For more information, and to hear the comments from the Walleye Panel, check out the Walleye Tank YouTube channel.

Episode 31: The Rochester Startup Part 12- Ambient Clinical Analytics

This week on the podcast, we continue with “The Rochester Startup” series and speak with a tenant of the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator, Ambient Clinical Analytics. Ambient Clinical Analytics is a healthtech startup that is developing a clinical decisions support suite of tools based on Mayo Clinic analytics. Their flagship products, AWARE and the Mayo Clinic YES Board, are tools that could be the centerpiece of total quality improvement within a healthcare facility. Today we speak with Ambient Clinical Analytics CEO Al Berning and CTO Drew Flaada, two entrepreneurs who spent several years working at IBM before striking out on their own.

“Our products really are focused in on error reduction, eliminating errors by better presentation of data, improving the efficiency of the care team, improving satisfaction of the care team and the patients that are being cared for, and ultimately providing better patient care.” –Drew Flaada


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Episode 25: COVR Medical

From left to right: Romeo Catracchia, COVR Medical CCO; the author; Bruce Levy, COVR Medical CEO and Founder.

This week, we speak with COVR Medical, a life science startup based out of the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator. COVR Medical was built within the Mayo Clinic Emerging Entrepreneur Program, a partnership between Mayo Medical Ventures and the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator. The COVR Medical team created medical garments that raise the standard of care and improve patient privacy by covering the groin area during surgery and other medical procedures. The startup was established in 2014 and is currently gearing up for commercialization. The team recently won the professional division of Walleye Tank, Rochester’s first life science business pitch competition.

“I think there’s more to being a successful entrepreneur than just having a good idea and being able to do a lot of hard work, although that’s certainly a good start. I think what you need to do is surround yourself with a competent team…that can really help develop the company.” –Dr. Bruce Levy, COVR Medical CEO and Founder.

Rochester Rising featured article: Local Entrepreneurial Experts Predict Momentous 2017

Episode 23: How Artificial Intelligence could Disrupt Healthcare

This past week, the Rochester entrepreneurial community got to host our good friend Pete Kane and his group Silicon Valley Artificial Intelligence (SVAI). SVAI is the largest artificial intelligence (AI) community in the Silicon Valley area. Members of the group made a special trip to Rochester to strengthen the relationship between their strong AI hub and the engrained medical and research community in Rochester.

The original concept of AI began in 1950. Today AI is all around us in things like video games, in speech recognition tools like Siri and Alexa, and in driverless cars. AI is particularly poised to impact healthcare. Ninety healthcare startups currently utilize AI and several of the major tech players, like Google and IBM, have some major skin in the game.

Rochester Rising Episode 22: Wet Labs of Minnesota- Let's Talk about Worthington

This week to continue our discussion about wet lab space in Minnesota, I spoke with Abraham Algadi, the Executive Direction of the Worthington Regional Economic Development Corporation, and Dr. Randy Simonson, a veterinary microbiologist and serial entrepreneur in Worthington, Minnesota. Worthington is a diverse community of about 13,000 people in the very southwest corner of Minnesota. The community has strong animal health and agricultural roots and is developing an animal health-focused wet lab to support their already entrenched biobusinesses and growing number of entrepreneurs.

  • Worthington, Minnesota is the county seat of Nobles County. The city has a very young population and is the second most diverse Minnesotan city behind Minneapolis.
  • Worthington has strong competencies in animal health with multiple large players in the area including Prairie Holdings Group, Merial, Merck, and Elanco.
  • A wet lab incubator, with a potential focus on animal health, is being developed in the Worthington Biotechnology Advancement Center.
  • The wet lab incubator could be a total of 13,000 sq. ft. and has the potential to expand onto surrounding acreage.
  • A wet lab would add another piece to the growing bioscience ecosystem in Worthington, strengthening that cluster and supporting local businesses.
  • The project has support at the city, county, and state level, with local entrepreneurs, like Dr. Simonson, spearheading the project.
  • The wet lab gives Worthington a unique opportunity to invest in a knowledge-based economy and strengthen their future as an animal health and bioscience cluster.

“In order to open the market up and create more capacities, those communities that are on the cutting edge of science- the Internet of Things, the research and development, the desktop CNC-ing and 3D printers, and all these wonderful things that are popping up every day before our eyes- if we in Worthington, if we in Stewartville, or some of the smaller towns around Rochester […] do not take advantage of them, we will be left behind in the dust of the others that are ahead of us.” –Abraham Algadi

Featured Rochester Rising article: Biomedical Wet Lab Incubator in Stewartville could Benefit Regional Economy- Executive Summary

Rochester Rising Episode 13: Sansoro Health with CEO Jeremy Pierotti

This week, I got to speak with Jeremy Pierotti, CEO of Sansoro Health, a software company based out of Minneapolis. Sansoro Health’s primary product, Emissary, makes it easier for applications to exchange data with core Electronic Medical Record (EMR) platforms. Jeremy will be speaking next Wednesday October 19th from 6-8PM at the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator. Click here for more information and to register for the event.

  • EMR is a system that tracks patient activity in most healthcare systems, provider offices, and nursing centers. It is basically the digitized version of the paper patient chart.
  • Sansoro Health began in 2014 with 4 co-founders with expertise in healthcare and healthcare technology. The company has rapidly expanded over the past few months and currently employs sixteen people.
  • ·Sansoro Health’s core product, Emissary, is a piece of software that functions as a bridge for data. Emissary enables data to be exchanged in real time by different healthcare applications to provide an improved workflow.
  • Emissary is a middleware solution that integrates any major EMR with any application to quickly and securely unlock the data, allowing for increased patient engagement.

“A great team and keen focus, those I think are two cornerstones of what we’ve been able to do with Sansoro Health in just a couple of years.” –Jeremy Pierotti  

Rochester Rising Episode 11: GoAudio with Alaa Koleilat

This week, I got to speak with Alaa Koleilat, a PhD student at Mayo Clinic, about a healthtech startup that she is building, called GoAudio. Alaa and her team built GoAudio during an entrepreneurship class at Mayo Clinic under the direction of Steve Ekker and pitched the startup at Rochester’s first life science pitch contest, Walleye Tank, just this June.

  • GoAudio is a mobile application that makes hearing testing more accessible. With this app, users can test and examine their hearing thresholds anywhere. All you need is noise cancelling headphones.
  • The team hopes that these five to ten-minute hearing tests provided by GoAudio will help audio screens become a routine part of annual exams.
  • Twenty percent of Americans report some degree of hearing loss, something that’s preventable if detected early.
  • During Dr. Ekker’s entrepreneurship class, Alaa and her classmates learned many aspects of business development, including how to do a customer interview. She also did site visits as part of the class and learned how many startups really are in Rochester.
  • The class taught students how to take an idea and present the idea to investors.
  • Right now, the GoAudio app is almost at completion; some calibration is still being performed.

“Walleye Tank was really cool. …Our division was the Junior Anglers. So the people from this class were in a different division because we were all very new to this. But you got to see people that were actually taking off and they’re getting investments. …And you got to see where you could potentially be.”

Rochester Rising Episode 9: Details of ArchHacks, a HealthTech, Student Hackathon in St. Louis, with Stephanie Mertz

This week, I got to speak with Stephanie Mertz, a junior at Washington University in St. Louis and co-organizer of ArchHacks, a forty-eight-hour hackathon in St. Louis this November.

  • ArchHacks takes place November 4th through November 6th, from Friday through Sunday.
  • ·Over this weekend, teams of students will build a healthtech-themed, functional prototype by Sunday evening and compete for prizes.
  • The hackathon is exclusively for students, but there are no age restrictions.
  • The application process takes all of ten minutes.
  • For more information, link up with the ArchHacks Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts.
  • Any additional questions can be directed to

“It’s really a unique combination that St. Louis has where we have the expansive medical background, the corporate resources, and startup drive, and the technical talent, all in one area. We thought that here in St. Louis, we were uniquely poised to bring the resources together to enable [a HealthTech themed hackathon].” –Stephanie Mertz

Rochester Rising Episode 8: Stewartville's Medical Device Serial Entrepreneurs, Jim and Philip Conway

This week, I had the unique opportunity to chat with two serial entrepreneurs that call southeast Minnesota home: Jim and Philip Conway, President and Vice President, Production Technologies at MN Medical Technologies in Stewartville, Minnesota.

  • Jim and Philip are brothers from a family with deep entrepreneurial roots. Their brother, Peter Conway, founded Halcon Furniture, also located in Stewartville. The Conway family immigrated to Chatfield, Minnesota from England when Jim was eight years old.
  • MN Medical Technologies provides a solution for fecal incontinence, a massive global problem.
  • The brothers cofounded Arcon Corporation in 1979 and later founded Rochester Medical Corporation in 1988.
  • Rochester Medical Corporation began by selling silicon folding catheters and silicon male external catheters. By the time the company was sold to C.R. Bard in 2015, Rochester Medical had developed an entire line of intermittent catheters and accessories. Rochester Medical products were sold in 76-78 companies and globally employed ~450 people.
  • The Conway brothers and their team collectively hold over 50 patents.
  • MN Medical Technologies broke ground in the Schumann Business Park in Stewartville, Minnesota in October 2015.

“The one thing that you have to be able to do is recognize other people’s talent and allow them to run with it. It’s all about having good people.” – Jim Conway, President of MN Medical Technologies.