In 2017, a fledgling company called “Brandless” got started. The co-founders, Tina Sharkey and Ido Leffler, had a novel idea. While other start-ups were busy spending Big Bucks on building a brand and trying to achieve a “brand following,” the Brandless co-founders decided to go the opposite way. They felt that modern shoppers cared a lot more about finding products that aligned with their own personal values than any intensely marketed brand name. Given their tremendous success over three short years, they are proving they were right!
Let’s take a look at a few examples of how people shop by their values rather than focusing on the brand name:
Many shoppers have made a personal commitment to never buy food containing GMO ingredients. This includes genetically modified ingredients like GMO canola oil, GMO soy lecithin, and GMO corn. So, from the beginning, all of Brandless’ food products were GMO-free and they always will be. Kudos!
2. Some parents care deeply about avoiding feeding their children any food laced with pesticides, herbicides, and other industrial contaminants. To avoid feeding their families these toxins, they shop for USDA certified organic products that are required by law to follow certain standards that avoid these toxins. More than half of all Brandless food items are USDA certified organic. Cool!
3. Many women want to buy only cruelty free makeup and they feel bad if their personal care products hurt the environment in any way. Brandless offers makeup and personal care products that are never tested on animals. They’ve also made a commitment to exclude hundreds of chemicals from their products that are destructive to the environment. Way to go!
What Is the Brand Tax & Why Is It Important?
Companies spend millions of dollars building a brand and “engaging” with potential customers and existing customers to build and maintain a loyalty to that brand. They pass this massive expense on to their customers. This is why you pay more when you buy a brand name product. In fact, there’s a dirty little secret that many so called “generic” products are actually just lessor known brands… but there’s still plenty of money going into branding these so called “generic” products and that expense is being passed on to the customer. Brandless calls the expense of branding that is passed on to the consumer the “brand tax” — and they are absolutely right!
Brandless doesn’t have a brand tax! Instead of spending Big Dollars on logo design, building a brand, maintaining brand recognition, and striving for brand dominance, Brandless focuses on catering to the values that shoppers truly care about. The three examples above are proof of this. In doing so, Brandless doesn’t have to spend Big Money on branding! Therefore, they can keep their prices lower, while at the same time, offering much higher quality products that consistently deliver on the values people want.
Brandless became instantly famous because they were selling all their high quality products for only $3. This low price tag included organic products and earth friendly products that are normally sold for much higher prices. Now, they also offer $9 products and these items too are far less expensive than you’d expect for the high quality products they are selling. Additionally, Brandless also uses some of the money they save by not focusing on branding to support good causes like food banks and homeless shelters, contributions that their customers believe are important.
In essence, Brandless has made it much more convenient for consumers to shop their conscience without breaking the bank! In case you’re wondering, Brandless sells mostly online but also through pop-up shops around the United States. If you’re a Brandless member, you can get free shipping for online orders over $48. Non-members can get free shipping for online orders over $72. Check out this forward thinking company’s fair-trade coffee, earth friendly diapers, non-toxic pet supplies, tree free paper products, organic foods, and so much more. Soon, they’ll be offering CBD oil and they’re constantly adding to their product line.
With an appetite for knowledge and a drive for success, Jack Plotkin has continuously found himself at the forefront of emerging technologies and industry change. Jack has spent nearly 20 years working with healthcare companies and almost seven years in the cauldron of healthcare’s technological advancements. In that time, he has become a recognized industry thought leader and a driving force behind cutting edge healthcare technologies.
We had the pleasure of sitting down with Jack for an exclusive interview to discuss his life and work:
Where did you go to college?
Harvard, or as some of my fellow alumni refer to it: that little school in Boston.
What was your favorite course? Why?
My favorite course outside of my major was a class called Art and Architecture. It opened new horizons for me and gave me a newfound appreciation for culture, aesthetics, and history.
Who was your most influential educator?
Even though I went to public schools in California, which was ranked near the bottom in quality of public education at the time, I was blessed to have several exceptional teachers. My sixth-grade teacher recognized talents in me that I didn’t know I had. She nurtured and supported them, taking a shy kid and building up his self-confidence. My ninth-grade teacher kindled and directed my love for writing. In high school, my physics and English teachers pushed me to dream big, work hard, and reach for the stars. I am eternally grateful to all of them.
Do you feel that your education adequately prepared you for your career?
I believe that the purpose of a liberal arts education is to prepare a person for life, not a career. In that sense, I’m grateful for everything I learned at Harvard, both in and out of the lecture hall. I left with a wonderful foundation upon which to build a career.
And how did you choose the career path you’re on?
I have always been interested in both business and technology. At Harvard, I pursued a minor in computer science. On Wall Street, I built complex models using a variety of programming languages and analytic tools. Technology is reshaping humanity’s future in unimaginable ways, but to be truly transformative, it has to be tied to a solid business strategy and coupled with effective execution.
What do you think brought you to your current position?
I graduated in 2000 and, like a number of my classmates, joined a leading investment bank. While there, I had the opportunity to advise Fortune 500 firms on billion-dollar financial strategies and transactions. Some years and title changes later, I decided to pursue an entrepreneurial career at the nexus of business and technology. I built a successful online publishing and digital advertising business, then opened my own advisory and investment company to develop start-ups and consult established companies. It’s hard to believe that I have now been CEO of my own company for more than seven years. I am most proud of our impact and opportunities to make a tangible difference.
What are some of the professional challenges you have faced, and how did you overcome them?
In the early stages of my career, key professional challenges had to do with solving large-scale problems in the context of hyper-aggressive investment banking timeframes. A typical example: I was asked to build a model for a multi-billion dollar insurance portfolio for one of the largest financial companies in the world. I was handed reams of data and four weeks to do it even though at the time I knew next to nothing about the insurance industry. As you can imagine, work/life balance was a challenge, as I worked 80 plus hour weeks and was routinely in the office on weekends and holidays, including Christmas and Thanksgiving. But I persevered because I believed in the value of what I was doing and enjoyed the intellectual rigor of the work.
Later in my career, the professional challenges took a more strategic tint. I had to advise companies on difficult decisions, including large-scale resource commitments, product pivots, high-stakes contract negotiations, and personnel rightsizing. The key to overcoming these types of challenges was problem-solving in terms of the big picture and ensuring all tactical decisions were consistent with an overarching plan.
What would you consider the most significant accomplishment in your career?
Being an original member of the team that built VirtualHealth from a two-desk start-up to one of the 40 fastest-growing companies in North America according to the Deloitte Fast 500. Not only did the company revolutionize healthcare technology, but it profoundly improved how healthcare is delivered to millions of the most vulnerable patients across the country.
Getting more into the day-to-day, what is a typical workday for you? How do you start your day?
I may be in my home office, at a client, or on the road but the routine is generally similar. I start by going through my emails and messages. After that, I get to work on the critical items on my to-do list, which include research, analysis, document reviews, and meetings.
And the rest of the day?
A crucial part of my focus is solving strategic issues across my portfolio of projects. This may involve formulating a business strategy or product design, engaging in contract negotiations or document reviews, building teams or mentoring leaders, or simply reading and writing things that hopefully have some lasting value.
Do you have any productivity tips that keep you motivated and grounded?
In my opinion, the key to productivity is the ability to maintain a single-minded focus on the task at hand. I like to say that I’m not a multi-tasker, but just an efficient serial tasker.
Tell us a bit about your workplace.
I work with a variety of clients, so I have exposure to different work environments. The diversity appeals to me – I have the opportunity to learn from different perspectives, and then apply those lessons.
How do you end your workday?
I’m not a punch-in, punch-out kind of guy, so my workday doesn’t have well-defined start and end times. I can be checking email first thing in the morning or jumping on a call after midnight. I’m fortunate to love my work, so I don’t mind taking it home with me. Away from work, I try to spend quality time with family and friends, stay fit, travel, enjoy the arts, and do a bit of lighter reading and writing. Believe it or not, I am a published author of two fiction novels and am currently finishing a third.
What about weekend activities?
When my calendar and the weather cooperate, I like to leave Manhattan and get outdoors.
I want to talk a little about your industry as a whole. Could you describe the industry you work in?
As I like to say, I work at the intersection of business and technology. I get involved with companies that are either building new technologies or that have a reliance on specific technologies. I have had the good fortune to work with clients in a lot of different industries, including e-commerce, retail, consumer goods, finance, insurance, transportation, media, gaming, telecommunications, manufacturing, and energy, among others. However, the industry I have worked in the most is healthcare.
What is your background? What makes you an authority in this industry?
I first became aware of healthcare through advising life sciences companies, such as Merck and Pfizer, while on Wall Street. I became far more involved in the industry in 2012 when I had the good fortune to partner with VirtualHealth. Having spent nearly two decades working with healthcare companies, and seven years exploring the next generation of technology within healthcare, I have had the opportunity to make a real, lasting contribution to the industry. I don’t know if that makes me an authority – that’s probably a question for my colleagues.
What excites you about this industry?
Healthcare is the most significant sector of the U.S. economy and the single biggest contributor to a person’s quality of life. With technology, I believe we can make healthcare far more proactive – we can catch issues before they turn into chronic conditions or acute episodes. The social impact of working in healthcare is tremendous. I am privileged to see that technologies and products that I spearheaded are changing how care is delivered for millions of people
What’s the current state of your industry?
Healthcare is a highly regulated and, by its nature, a somewhat conservative industry. As a result, it tends to be slower to embrace new technologies. It is also highly fragmented, meaning that the rate of adoption is not uniform. This nature of healthcare makes it challenging to drive positive change, but it also makes the change that much more valuable. The good news is that right now a lot of technology players are trying to disrupt healthcare, and there is more forward movement than ever before. It’s an exciting time.
Who are some of the largest service providers in your corner of the healthcare industry?
The healthcare technology landscape is vast. Every year I go to HIMSS, which is the primary healthcare IT (“HIT”) conference. HIMSS is massive – it occupies the largest conference centers in the country, with thousands of vendors and a sea of visitors. Within HIT there are several exceptionally large vendor categories, such as electronic medical records, data management, population health, medical devices, and analytics, among many others.
How have things in your industry changed over the past 5, 10, 20 years?
Some of the most significant evolution in healthcare over the last couple of decades has arisen as a result of regulatory and technological changes. The Affordable Care Act expanded Medicaid programs and pushed both Medicare and Medicaid to embrace value-based care. This put additional accountability on health insurance companies to focus on health outcomes. In turn, this has driven an explosion in technologies seeking to help both payers and providers to better manage patients and improve care delivery.
What are some of the biggest challenges your industry faces? How do you see it overcoming these challenges?
Healthcare is an industry where change is difficult because the cost of every wrong decision carries such a profound impact. People put their trust in the healthcare system: in the knowledge of doctors, in the operation of hospitals and other facilities, in the financial stability of insurers, and in the accuracy of clinical data systems. As a result, healthcare decision-makers tend to be conservative when it comes to introducing new technologies or approaches. They require credibility and validation. This makes it challenging for new companies to break into the industry and can have a dampening effect on existing companies’ willingness to innovate.
I believe the key to course-correcting healthcare’s understandable inertia is through a combination of regulatory change and thought leadership. The good news is this is starting to happen in many parts of healthcare.
What does the future of healthcare look like to you?
The future of healthcare has never been brighter. There is more knowledge and more technology to support the optimal delivery of care. Value-based models are forcing both insurers and providers to focus on being increasingly proactive in how they think about the patient journey. New healthcare technology start-ups are appearing more and more to challenge the status quo and usher in new ways of thinking.
In the coming years, healthcare is going to become increasingly personalized and digitized. People are used to having end-to-end digital journeys for everything from banking to fitness. Why not for healthcare? There is an increasing focus on the concept of patient engagement in healthcare resulting in everything from patient portals for viewing prescriptions and labs to automated text messages for appointments to connected devices for tracking vitals.
What advice would you give to those looking to enter this field?
You are ultimately working to help patients, so be patient. Do not be discouraged by setbacks and take advantage of every opportunity, no matter how small, to evangelize and showcase the impact of your innovations. The mantra of doctors is to “do no harm,” which means they, and the industry, are going to be hesitant to adopt a new technology or approach until it is proven and validated. The key is to find ways to show the benefits of the innovation within the context of an industry that is literally in the business of making life and death decisions daily.
The other major piece of advice I would give is to take the time to understand the regulatory rules and operational approaches of the industry. Before you can improve upon the landscape, you must understand the landscape.
What makes your company a leader in its field, and why would your services be a benefit for someone looking for help?
My experience and proven track record in building technologies, optimizing processes, and delivering results across multiple industries provides unique positioning for solving the full range of business problems, ultimately resulting in increased revenues, reduced costs, and, most importantly, positive social impact. I’d like to think that there are many organizations I have yet to meet who could benefit from my experience and expertise.
What are some resources or books you think someone entering this industry absolutely must-read?
I have always told folks – only partly in jest – that everything they might need to know about the business and operation of healthcare is on the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) website. In all seriousness, it is a massive but truly invaluable resource. The sheer amount of information represented there can be overwhelming. Anyone willing to put in the time and effort to read and understand the key concepts presented on the CMS website would learn a tremendous amount of information about the field.
Of course, merely reading is not enough. The other part is direct experience with how operations are structured in specific sectors of the industry. Consulting can be an effective on-ramp in gaining this knowledge. Consultants are exposed to a broad range of companies and operational challenges and get first-hand exposure to how organizations go about delivering healthcare services.
Let’s shift gears a bit away from work. Where do you live and how long have you lived there?
I live in New York City. I moved here for work after graduating from college and ended up falling in love with the vibrancy, diversity, and endless possibilities of the city. I just never left.
How have you seen the city change since you got here?
Manhattan, in particular, was more socioeconomically diverse when I first came there for my summer internship in 1999. The city has seen a lot of new development and the continued rise of young professionals and upper-middle-class families, which have profoundly altered the look and feel of many neighborhoods. And then, of course, there was 9/11. I was working a few blocks from the World Trade Center and the events of that day were a profound turning point for the city and for all of us who lived through it. It brought New Yorkers together and made us realize that, as a city, we could overcome the unimaginable.
What makes NYC special?
There are so many things that make New York City special. As the largest metro in the world’s largest economy, it represents an unbelievable melting pot of cultures, ideas, and possibilities. There is so much to see and do, from world-class museums to Broadway shows to new restaurant concepts – the list is truly endless. The people are known for moving fast, talking fast, and being hyper-focused to the point of rudeness. Once you get to know them, though, you realize how open-minded, compassionate, and personable most New Yorkers really are. For me, many personal firsts are linked to New York. My first job. My first apartment. My first Broadway show. My first view from the top of a high-rise. My first ride on a ferry. And, of course, the really important personal stuff, but we’ll save that for the next interview.
Moving to New York City, starting a successful company, working on changing the healthcare industry; you’ve done a lot over the course of your life. What is something that you struggled to overcome professionally or personally in that time?
I have always believed that people should be measured by objective standards rather than personal preferences. It was difficult for me to see people being promoted or held back because of their relationships with managers and executives, rather than based on the quality of their work. I struggled to fit into a corporate structure where politics and bureaucracy were the norm.
How did you overcome it?
First, I began to pursue more entrepreneurial opportunities, where I had the chance to build something on my own. Second, I tried to design processes and cultures that would support innovative thinking and result-oriented incentives. Third, in working with clients, I tried to empower individuals and inspire them to change the status quo.
What was the best advice you received during that challenging time?
The best advice I received is that you can either complain about how things work, or you can do something to change it. There is a well-known quote: “you can get busy living, or you can get busy dying.” In the context of bureaucratic structures, difficult bosses, unfair practices, and so forth, I say it like this: “you can get busy complaining, or you can get busy changing.”
Is this still something you are battling or has the issue dissipated?
The ever-growing collection of business books are proof positive that the issue of politics and bureaucracy in business is not dissipating any time soon. The books on history, sociology, and anthropology make it clear that these things are a natural outgrowth of human social structures. So, I try to find ways to nudge my clients to a healthier way of managing processes and supporting teams while understanding that it’s a long-term process.
What advice would you give to others in the same situation?
The best advice I can give is to understand yourself. Understand your purpose in the context of a professional career. Then, proceed backward from that to figure out the type of organization and the sort of work that will empower you to self-actualize. There will always be aspects of work that will be tedious or unpleasant. If that represents the whole of your professional life, then you know you have to make a change. But to make sure it’s the right change, you have to understand what gives you that all-important sense of meaning and accomplishment.
What was the best piece of advice you’ve received?
I have been fortunate to receive advice and help from many different people from many different backgrounds. The most important lesson I learned is that you should always keep an open mind. Never assume that someone is not qualified to give you advice just because of their age or job title. Some of the best advice I have received was from people who were younger, or less experienced, or from a different profession or walk of life. Rather than judge the messenger, be thoughtful about the message.
There is a lot of growing throughout life, and a lot of advice to help us grow in uncertain times. Some people find their “calling” early out of college, while some don’t discover theirs until decades later. What was your most influential decade?
My most influential decade to date was my 30s. I feel that I had matured to a point where I knew how to extract the most value from the lessons I had learned. It was also a decade during which I built several successful businesses with the help of those same lessons.
What lessons did you learn? Was there a role model you modeled your career after? Did you have a mentor that would give you frequent advice?
The most important lessons I learned professionally all had to do with how to start, build, and grow a business. Strategically, I learned how to develop and execute a business model, how to develop and lead a high-performing team, and how to get from capital to revenue. Tactically, I learned how the business should run; from product or service development to delivery to sales/marketing to account management to operations. I also learned a lot about the people, processes, and products that are likely to succeed.
Are there any lessons you learned that affected your life as a whole?
Because my professional life is such a significant part of my life as a whole, I feel that every lesson had profound impacts beyond work. By finding ways to work smarter and achieve better results, I was able to find a healthier work/life balance. Also, many professional lessons positively affected my personal life. Perhaps the most important of these was the ability to act tactically but think strategically. It’s easy to get caught up in the minutiae of daily life. I find that maintaining a long-term perspective enabled me to make better decisions, have greater patience, and respond to events in a more thoughtful manner.
What advice would you give to someone else in their 30’s trying to find their way?
I would advise someone embarking on their 30s to remain open to ideas and thoughtful about possibilities. I would encourage them to take the lessons they learned in their 20s to heart. To build a long-term plan, and then to make sure their actions are consistent with it and the kind of person they aspire to be.
It seems like you’ve really become the person you want to be, which brings with it a recognition of who you are and what you like to do. Along those lines, what is your favorite hobby?
I probably have too many hobbies, but two of my favorites are traveling and writing. I have self-published a handful of books via the Amazon and B&N distribution platforms, including two successful novels under the pen name of “Michael May.” Their titles are “Blindside” and “Sonora Sunrise.” I was pleasantly surprised to discover that, at one point, “Blindside” was ranked among the 50 most popular financial thrillers on the entire Amazon Kindle store.
How did you discover a love for writing?
I’ve always enjoyed writing, but I really fell in love with it in high school. I had a lucky streak of incredible and inspirational English teachers who stoked and nurtured my passion for writing.
I try to spend several hours each week writing, and several hours each day when I have the opportunity to get away for a few weeks. If I had unlimited free time, I would probably write for an hour or two most days.
I’ve been kind of shocked that thousands of copies of my books have sold, despite me investing exactly zero dollars into marketing or publicity. Some readers even left five-star reviews – my guess is that they’re either awfully kind or didn’t read the book.
You also said traveling was one of your favorite hobbies. How many countries have you been to? Do you have a favorite?
I have been fortunate to visit many amazing countries, including places in the Americas, Europe, and Asia – from Aruba to Austria, from Israel to Italy, and from Panama to Poland, just to throw a few alliterations your way. I absolutely don’t have a single favorite country, but I have a great appreciation for the beautiful cultures, characters, and cuisines in each of the countries I have visited. I try to stay away from the touristy places and get a real sense for the local way of life. It definitely gives you a new perspective.
Do you travel mostly for business, or are you able to get out for personal enjoyment, too?
I travel both for business and personal enjoyment, but even when I travel for business, I try to spend a little time exploring.
Do you typically travel alone or in groups? Do you prefer one over the other?
I enjoy both traveling with people and on my own, but they’re very different experiences. Traveling with others is a beautiful way to share the process of discovery and to grow closer. On the other hand, traveling alone offers an intoxicating feeling of freedom and limitless possibility.
As a boutique merchant bank, Farvahar Partners leverages decades of pertinent experience within the financial world to garner initial, and late stage funding for businesses of all sizes. By investing partner capital, and providing liquidity, investment banking, capital raising, and advisory capacities for clients, Farvahar Partners serves as a one-stop shop for companies to garner continued growth, and prosperity. At the helm of Farvahar Partners, CEO and Founder Omeed Malik oversees daily operations, and leverages years of leadership experience into client success stories.
Born in New Jersey, Malik earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy and Political Science from Colgate University, before graduating with honors from Emory University’s prestigious School of Law, garnering a Juris Doctor degree. Beginning his career in the realm of local politics, Malik enjoyed his initial professional foray as spokesperson for former New Jersey Representative Donald Payne. Malik continued his professional trajectory within his next role as a corporate lawyer for New York City’s Weil, Gotshal & Manges, where he gained extensive experience within the realm of bankruptcy, and corporate structure in the private, and public sector.
Next, Malik perfected various skills through successfully redeveloping the company’s national distribution platform as the Senior Vice President at MF Global. Finally, Malik became the Managing Director and Global Head of the Hedge Fund Advisory Business at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Answering his entrepreneurial calling, Malik leveraged years of pertinent experience into the creation of Farvahar Partners.
What makes new clients want to join the portfolio at Farvahar Partners?
As founder and CEO of the company, I remain vastly involved in all aspects of client interaction, planning, and execution of funding planning. Thus, I can attest to the profound attention that is paid to each client’s unique needs, with the notion that each business is wildly different, and thus, must be treated on a case-by-case basis. Not only do we provide alternative sources of funding for initial, and late stage funding rounds, but we also provide an advisory capacity that is rarely seen within this type of company.
By gaining a positive reputation with our clients, referrals come from these experiences, as word of mouth is still undoubtedly a powerful tool. Additionally, I often present my thoughts about the market, legal commentary, and specific industry insights on various panels, and within national publications. I have found that this helps individuals to understand our unique perspective, and acts as a way to increase brand awareness.
Within the growing trend of Pre-IPO trading, how important is SEC compliance?
Within the private sector, increasing numbers of investors are becoming interested in the unique benefits of investing in Pre-IPO private companies. After the passing of 2012’s Jobs Act, private companies were able to procure the liquidity needed to propel vertical growth, all prior to going public through an IPO. This has created a uniquely new market opportunity. Due to the burgeoning nature of this newly formed trading presence, SEC compliance is vital. In order to partake in transactions within the private sector, to be an institutional provider of private liquidity, a company must be a registered broker/dealer. Farvahar Partners is registered as such, and can confidently trade under the existing laws.
What advice do you have for young people who are looking to enter the field of investment banking?
I would certainly encourage young people to continue learning about all facets related to their position within the world of investment banking. Though some people may have difficulty correlating investment banking to foreign and domestic policy, politics drives the way in which business is conducted. Thus, I would encourage young people to look at their professional field through a macro lens, recognizing ways in which things are connected, and working to create the most conducive atmosphere to their particular business needs.
Marc Beer has proven his entrepreneurial prowess again and again with immense success. With a career that has spanned more than 25 years, Beer has brought numerous companies to the pinnacle of success for one simple reason – he is a master at developing unique workable solutions that solve immediate and pressing problems.
Beer graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business from Miami University in 1987. This education and his innate talent prepared him for the career path he has followed since, a career path that began in pharmaceutical sales and marketing and lead to the position of Vice President of Global Marketing at Genzyme (NASDAQ: GENZ). This was a position that allowed Beer to get Genzyme out in front of the world, as he promoted the company’s product line, a product line geared toward the more than 350 million medically underserved people across the globe suffering from any of the more than 7,000 rare diseases that afflict human kind.
The experience of helping the underserved prompted Beer to consider upping his game. Beer wanted to push further, to make a difference by addressing issues that were pressing and difficult to solve in the pharmaceutical industry, and his experience up to this point had set him up perfectly to set out on his own. This is what led Marc Beer to launch his first company.
It was 2007 and Beer was on top of the world. His first venture, ViaCell, which he launched in 2000 following his time in pharmaceutical sales and marketing, had successfully blossomed into a biotechnology company that employed 300 people and went public in 2005, listing on NASDAQ as VIAC. The company specialized in the collection and preservation of umbilical cord blood stem cells for development and use to treat a variety of conditions in the human body.
In 2007, seven short years after founding the company, Beer sold ViaCell to PerkinElmer for $300 million. He had the world by the tail, with his first massive entrepreneurial success under his belt and a wonderful family full of love. Unfortunately, this is precisely when tragedy struck.
Shortly after the sale of ViaCell, Beer’s wife died suddenly from a pulmonary embolism at the age of 42. Devastated, Beer took solace in raising his three children full-time. However, just two years later, it was one of those children – his 14-year-old daughter – who told her dad that he needed to get back on the horse and start a new company. She turned the sage advice he had given her on “living with purpose” back on him, compassionately informing him that his life’s purpose was not driving her to and from school every day.
Fortunately, he listened to her advice, relaunching an entrepreneurial career that has led him to another decade of massive success, the pinnacle of which was the launch and growth of his latest company – Renovia.
Beer’s most recent climb to success has been as a co-founder, CEO, and Chairman of Renovia. The company has its roots firmly planted in a phone call Beer received from a gynecologist, Dr. Ray Iglesias, who had been performing pelvic floor surgeries for 35 years. Dr. Iglesias had spent nearly a decade trying to determine how to help women avoid surgery and he had an idea that he brought to Beer through that initial phone call – a phone call that changed Beer’s life.
In 2016, Beer partnered with Dr. Iglesias and Yolanda Lorié to found Renovia, a Boston-based med-tech company that focuses on the development of therapeutic and diagnostic devices for women with pelvic floor disorders, with the goal of providing first-line diagnosis and treatment. Pelvic floor disorders include pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence, and fecal incontinence, disorders that affect close to 25% of women in the U.S.
Beer saw the number of women suffering from pelvic floor disorders as a serious issue, with ambulatory physician costs in 2005-2006 at $298 million, and one that he could directly impact. It is Beer’s intention to lead the development of Renovia to a successful combination of “innovative and proprietary sensor technologies” with a “digital health platform.”
The year 2018 has been one of milestones for Renovia. The company had its first product, Leva, approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in April. Beer’s most recent success at the helm of Renovia is the acquisition of a Series B round of funding, to the tune of $32 million, with an additional $10 million in venture funding. Series B funding has been helmed by Perceptive Advisors of New York and Ascension Ventures of Missouri. The Longwood Fund, a healthcare investment firm that has been investing in Renovia from the beginning, also contributed to Series B funding.
In a statement regarding the Series B funding, Beer said, “We are thrilled to have the support of this group of leading healthcare investors who share our vision to better diagnose, treat and improve the lives of millions of women affected by pelvic floor disorders. Combining our innovative and proprietary sensor technologies and form factors with a digital health platform will give our customers valuable data to inform new treatment options, drive greater knowledge and understanding of pelvic floor disorders, and ultimately lower long-term healthcare costs.”
The goal behind Renovia’s approach is to remove the stigma associated with discussing pelvic floor disorders, something that stops millions of women from seeking treatment for their condition. Through their line of products, Renovia strives to use their research to help diagnose and treat pelvic floor disorders, which can be caused by any of the following:
- Uterine fibroids
- Digestive diseases
- Chronic pelvic inflammatory disease
- Interstitial cystitis
Renovia’s goal is to help women who suffer with pelvic floor disorders to regain strength and control of their pelvic floor muscles through the use of FDA-approved medical devices paired with app technology and data management that are patient-based. This will allow patients to be in the driver’s seat as they improve their health and it will ultimately result in lower long-term healthcare costs for both patients and the healthcare industry.
As a part of this strategy, Marc Beer and Renovia back the Women’s Preventive Services Initiative (WPSI) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) in recommending that women be screened for urinary incontinence. Dr. Samantha Pulliam, Chief Medical Officer at Renovia, says, “The ACOG Committee Opinion and the WSPI screening recommendations are both so well aligned with Renovia’s commitment to awareness and first-line treatment. Both recommendations support a call-to-action related to female pelvic health, and we are excited for the positive health impact they can have for millions of women who experience urinary incontinence and other pelvic floor disorders.”
For Marc Beer, It’s All About People
All this success has not gone to Marc Beer’s head. He knows that when it comes down to it, the success he has experienced is because of the people he has worked with and the talent he has brought on board. Talent acquisition and organizational structure are the primary focus of Beer’s workday. He firmly believes if he has the right talent and leadership teams in place, everything else will take care of itself.
On top of this, Beer takes goal setting seriously. Once goals are set, resource allocation and capital efficiency can be applied, and since data collection takes place 24/7, the process of allocating resources is more efficient and cost-effective, allowing for the all-important cashflow to continue to boost the business and keep it moving in the right direction.
Marc Beer is intent on giving back to the community in ways that go beyond the scope of his work. This is why he uses his leadership and problem-solving abilities to better the lives of others. On the business side of giving back, Beer has served as a member of the Notre Dame Research and Commercialization Advisory Committee and the Graduate Studies Research and Advisory Council. In addition, he is currently a serving member of the Miami University Business Advisory Council.
On the health side of the service equation, Beer is dedicated to helping others in difficult health situations. In the past, he has served as a member of the Mass Life Science Board for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) Emerging Companies Section Governing Board. He has also served as a member of the board of directors of Erytech Pharma (NASDAQ: ERYP).
However, this is just the tip of the ice berg. Beer has also given back through his previous service on the board of directors of the Joe Andruzzi Cancer Foundation, a foundation that provides financial support for cancer patients and their families, and by getting deeply involved with Minerva Neurosciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: NERV), a company that strives to make a difference in the lives of patients who suffer from diseases of the central nervous system. For Minerva Neurosciences, Beer has served as a member of their audit committee and as the Founding Chairman of the Board and chair of the committee for compensation.
Dynamic Leadership When It’s Needed Most
Marc Beer is a highly successful entrepreneur and he has spoken about what this entails. The entrepreneurial advice he gives includes:
- Creating a financial plan
- Being willing to make sacrifices
- Focusing on winning
- Remaining logical
- Learning from failure
- Enjoying the entrepreneurial process
- Giving back to the community
Beer has followed this advice throughout his life, committing himself improving the lives of medical practitioners and their patients by providing leadership and ingenious problem-solving skills to bridge the gap between problems and workable solutions. This has been evident with his success in building ViaCell and he has repeated that success with his current company, Renovia. He is an invaluable member of and leader in the biotech business community.
UPDATE 9/4/2019: Marc Beer Embraces New Role as Chairman of LumeNXT
Marc Beer was recently approved as Chairman of the Board of LumeNXT, a biomedical company that designs and manufactures surgical products. This appointment was not a surprise to many industry insiders because Beer brings an extensive professional background in the biomedical field to this high-profile role. Paul Rhyne, a co-founder of LumeNXT, praised Beer’s 25 years of experience in helping lead startup companies in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries to success. He is optimistic that Beer will play a large role in increasing the profitability of LumeNXT over the next few years. One of the reasons why Beer was such an attractive candidate for this important role at LumeNXT is that he has demonstrated success with fundraising for various rounds of investment before biomedical companies go public.
Another aspect of Beer’s professional background that spoke to the leadership of LumeNXT is his experience with assisting companies in a global rollout of their biomedical technologies. LumeNXT is exploring opportunities to distribute its surgical illumination devices internationally, and Beer is the perfect leader to assist in the strategic and widespread rollout of these products. His experience in complying with various government regulatory authorities, presenting to investors, understanding current medical needs, maintaining sustainable profit margins, communicating with engineering teams and projecting market trends will serve Beer well in this new role.
Marc Beer Anticipates Sustainable Sales Growth at LumeNXT
When asked about what Beer is looking forward to in his new role at LumeNXT, he responded that he is passionate about increasing awareness of the illumination capabilities of LumeNXT surgical solutions. He believes that this company is a pioneer in improving safety standards and making workflow more efficient for minimally invasive surgeries. Beer stands behind LumeNXT’s development of a superior surgical illumination device over what was previously being used by most surgeons in minor procedures and is a strong advocate for the company. He has publically stated that he has full confidence in the ability of the LumeNXT engineering team to continue raising the standard for safe and effective surgical illumination devices. His expectation is that LumeNXT will dominate the surgical illumination sector of the biomedical field and will find even more creative uses for its proprietary illumination technology.
Beer has always been a visionary in the biomedical field and recently predicted that minimally invasive surgeries will only increase in frequency as diagnostic and surgical methods improve. This means that there will always be greater demand for surgical illumination devices like those developed by LumeNXT to assist with more minimally invasive procedures. His ability to predict trends in the biomedical field and position his companies to take advantage of new medical needs has launched Beer to incredible levels of professional success.
Marc Beer’s Professional Experience in Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Companies
Before accepting his current position at LumeNXT, Beer helped co-found Renovia, a women’s health startup dedicated to the diagnosis of pelvic floor conditions. He also founded and served as the CEO of ViaCell, a biomedical company focused on the collection and development of umbilical cord blood stem cells. The company went public after just a few years thanks to Beer’s vision and leadership. At Minerva Neurosciences, Beer served as a chairman and helped the company break new ground in the diagnosis and treatment of central nervous system diseases. In addition, Beer has experience serving on the board of other pharmaceutical companies that went public, including Erytech Pharma.
While Beer certainly has a wide range of technical and biomedical experience, he has also demonstrated strong business leadership in his founding and running of various startups. He currently serves a member of the Miami University Business Advisory Council and is a former member of the Notre Dame Research and Commercialization Advisory Committee. His unique combination of industry knowledge and business leadership skills has positioned Beer to serve as a capable and inspiring corporate leader of companies dedicated to advancing medical progress. He has never back away from opportunities to explore new uses for medical technologies and believes in investing in the future of biomedical research.
More Information About LumeNXT
LumeNXT is widely known for its innovative work in the development of surgical illumination products that are most commonly used in minimally invasive procedures. This company is making surgeries safer than ever before with enhanced visibility during the operations and minimizing potentially dangerous distractions for doctors in the operating room. Surgeons are able to more freely manipulate their tools during surgeries because of the technology developed by LumeNXT that allows for compact lighting attachments to surgical tools. Its proprietary LumeNXT Light provides up to four hours of constant illumination and is available in single-use packages. The devices rely on compact batteries to add minimal weight to the surgical tools they attach to. Their customizable design allows the devices to attach to nearly any surgical tool used in a minimally invasive procedure.
The LumeNXT illumination devices have a distinct advantage over previous surgical illumination devices that were much more cumbersome to handle and required extension cords to be plugged into outlets during the surgical procedures. Another aspect of the LumeNXT illumination technology that is safer and more efficient than previous models is that the devices protect against tissue damage from overheating by constantly removing the heat from the light. Surgeons are able to use these illumination devices to access difficult areas without jeopardizing patient safety. They can also rest assured that it is safe to explore cavernous areas during surgical procedures for longer periods of time without worrying about tissue damage from the heat of the light. This allows for improved focus on the task at hand and minimizes the total time that a patient is under the knife during a minor surgical procedure. Patients will benefit from reduced exposure to bacteria and airborne diseases because their surgeons can complete the procedures in less time with fewer adjustments for lighting and visualization of the operating area required.
The surgical illumination technology developed by LumeNXT is only expected to increase in popularity and demand under the new leadership of Beer. The potential uses for this technology are endless and are ripe for exploration with the encouragement of Beer and the energized board of directors at LumeNXT.
Crave Beauty Academy boasts a successful reputation as a leading cosmetology school that began in 2013. Before Crave Beauty Academy built a new foundation, its predecessors came with more than 25 years of experience in the cosmetology industry with an exceptional background and international portfolio.
With programs in all things cosmetology, from nail technology to esthetics, Crave Beauty Academy goes above and beyond to help students become exceptional professionals capable of transforming the future of the cosmetics industry. Crave Beauty Academy has two sperate campuses in Wichita, Kansas and Ballwin, Missouri and is currently offering upwards of 50 thousand dollars in scholarships for summer enrollments.
Crave Core Values
The crave in Crave Beauty Academy stands for the institution’s core values, which is culture, relationships, achievement, values, and education. The culture at Crave Beauty Academy is one of hard work and regular change to improve and create a positive environment for students. Relationships are critical in all learning environments and it starts and grows by first treating others with respect and collaborating for success.
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Crave Academy Programs
Crave Beauty Academy’s core programs include Cosmetology, Esthetics, and Nail Technology. However, the academy continues to add in new subjects to the curriculum in order to give students a headstart in their careers and any advantage they can get over the competition. Other programs and courses offered at Crave Academy include instructor training, marketing, medical aesthetics, industry trends, ITEC certification, and business training.
Barber Expansion Opportunity is something that was recently brought in at Crave Academy, which offers barber graduates the opportunity to a specialized program to earn a degree in cosmetology. Unlike the typical programs at Crave, the Barber Expansion Opportunity allows students who have already graduated to take a 500-hour course to earn their cosmetology degree, which is a significantly shorter time span than students who start out in cosmetology fresh.
Kim McIntosh is the owner of Crave Beauty Academy and currently acts as the institutes Executive Director and President of operations. Before taking up ownership of Crave, Kim spent almost 20 years working as a partner at Xenon International Academy. When Kim and her husband acquired Xenon International in 2013, they rebranded it to Crave Beauty Academy with a whole new set of core values and a new and improved educational curriculum for cosmetology students.