Yearly Archives: 2017

TissueTech, Inc. Names John Arnott, Industry Executive, to Board of Directors

SOURCE: TissueTech, Inc.

Arnott brings experience in a wide range of global healthcare

MIAMI – August 3, 2017 – TissueTech Inc. announced today that it has named John Arnott to its Board of Directors. Mr. Arnott was most recently Operating Partner and Executive Chairman of multiple portfolio companies for The Riverside Company, one of largest and oldest global private equity firms.

Mr. Arnott’s career in healthcare dates back four decades and he has an extensive background in corporate, private equity, international, regional and country operating environments, including senior positions with Idex Corporation, Alpine Biomed, Sierra Scientific, Hospira and Abbott Laboratories.

“Given John’s long and accomplished career, we feel he will be a strong addition to our board as we maintain our status as the leading experts in the scientific understanding and innovative clinical application of umbilical cord and amniotic tissue in regenerative medicine,” said Amy Tseng, Chief Executive Officer of TissueTech. “Just recently, TissueTech surpassed 300,000 human implants performed by clinicians. That milestone demonstrates that we’ve been increasingly successful in finding new and important arenas where regenerative therapy offers the potential to address underserved and unmet clinical needs and improve patients’ lives. The addition of John further strengthens our board due to his experience across a number of healthcare sectors with large global organizations.”

Mr. Arnott’s career launched in 1977 when he began work for the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, ultimately serving as Chief Medical Laboratory Scientific Officer for the Welsh National Blood Transfusion Service. From 1990 to 2003, he held several executive positions at Abbott Laboratories, including Vice President and Regional Director of European Operations and corporate Vice President of the Hospital Products Division. Before joining Riverside, he served as Chief Executive Officer & Chairman of Alpine Biomed, Executive Chairman of Sierra Scientific and President of Idex Health & Science LLC.

“TissueTech continues to pioneer the clinical application of the regenerative properties of human umbilical cord and amniotic membrane,” Arnott said. “Throughout my career, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in the development and commercialization of some of the world’s most innovative medical products. I look forward to bringing that experience to an organization that is committed to advancing the practice of medicine with continued innovation in regenerative medicine.”

About TissueTech, Inc.

TissueTech, Inc., the parent company of Amniox Medical, Inc. and Bio-Tissue, Inc., pioneered the development and clinical application of regenerative, amniotic tissue-based products. Amniox Medical markets products for use in the musculoskeletal and wound care markets; Bio-Tissue markets products for the ophthalmology and optometry markets. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has supported TissueTech’s research with more than 30 continuous years of research grants. Since the company’s inception, clinicians have performed more than 300,000 human implants of the company’s products and published more than 300 peer-reviewed studies supporting its technology platform. The company’s first product, AmnioGraft®, is the only tissue graft designated by the FDA as homologous for promoting ophthalmic wound healing while suppressing scarring and inflammation.

Media Contact: Chris Gale, cgale@greentarget.com

TissueTech, Inc. Names Dr. Herbert B. Slade as Chief Medical Officer

SOURCE: TissueTech, Inc.

MIAMI – August 1, 2017 – TissueTech, Inc. announced today that Herbert B. Slade, MD, has been named the company’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO). Dr. Slade, who will lead the execution of TissueTech’s clinical research strategies and be the primary liaison for medical affairs, has more than 25 years of healthcare industry-based experience, most recently at Smith & Nephew plc, where he was CMO and Senior Vice President of Research and Development for the wound care division.

Dr. Slade’s previous research background includes prestigious work with Dr. Jonas Salk, who developed one of the first successful polio vaccines. Dr. Salk recruited Dr. Slade from academia to develop an HIV therapeutic vaccine joint venture, where Dr. Slade held the position of Director of AIDS and Immunology at Rhône-Poulenc Rorer.

Dr. Slade later became CMO of 3M Pharmaceuticals for 12 years. Following that appointment, he joined DFB Pharmaceuticals, serving as CMO for Healthpoint Biotherapeutics. After Healthpoint was acquired by Smith & Nephew in 2012, Slade’s role expanded to include their wound care division.

“It is with great enthusiasm that I join the TissueTech executive team. As the first company to commercialize amniotic membrane based technologies for clinical use, it is a pioneer in the field of regenerative medicine,” said Dr. Slade. “The company has an innovative vision for the future development of this platform technology, and I know that my experience in clinical development can be an asset to support the company in achieving those objectives.”

Dr. Slade received his undergraduate degree in biology from Hamilton College and his M.D. from State University of New York Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York.

“In addition to being a dual board-certified subspecialist in pediatrics and clinical immunology, Dr. Slade has played pivotal roles in key medical research for a number of reputable companies,” said Amy Tseng, Chief Executive Officer of TissueTech. “As our company continues to grow – we recently achieved the milestone of 300,000 human implants performed by clinicians –an individual with the credentials and knowledge that Dr. Slade provides necessary support for our mission to continue to provide clinicians with advanced regenerative medicine therapies that improve patients’ lives.”

About TissueTech, Inc.

TissueTech, Inc., the parent company of Amniox Medical, Inc. and Bio-Tissue, Inc., pioneered the development and clinical application of regenerative, amniotic tissue-based products. Amniox Medical markets products for use in the musculoskeletal and wound care markets; Bio-Tissue markets products for the ophthalmology and optometry markets. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has supported TissueTech’s research with more than 30 continuous years of research grants. Since the company’s inception, clinicians have performed more than 300,000 human implants of the company’s products and published more than 300 peer-reviewed studies supporting its technology platform. The company’s first product, AmnioGraft®, is the only tissue graft designated by the FDA as homologous for promoting ophthalmic wound healing while suppressing scarring and inflammation.

Media Contact: Chris Gale, cgale@greentarget.com

Interested, dedicated, fascinated by the job

Today marks the 48th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing and the first steps by humanity on another world.  In honor of the man who took those first steps, we’d like to reprint the 8/28/12 piece we wrote on the occasion of his passing. 

~~~

Astronaut Neil Armstrong passed away Saturday, and The Wall Street Journal reported something the pioneer once said about the success of the 1969 Apollo 11 mission – the odds of which he had placed at 50/50.

Mr. Armstrong described the required reliability of each component used in an Apollo mission – statistically speaking 0.99996, a mere 4 failures per 100,000 operations – and pointed out that such reliability would still yield roughly 1000 separate identifiable failures per flight.   In reality, though, they experienced only 150 per flight.  What explained the dramatic difference?

I can only attribute that to the fact that every guy in the project, every guy at the bench building something, every assembler, every inspector, every guy that’s setting up the tests, cranking the torque wrench, and so on, is saying, man or woman, “If anything goes wrong here, it’s not going to be my fault, because my part is going to be better than I have to make it.” And when you have hundreds of thousands of people all doing their job a little better than they have to, you get an improvement in performance. And that’s the only reason we could have pulled this whole thing off. . . .

When I was working here at the Johnson Space Center, then the Manned Spacecraft Center, you could stand across the street and you could not tell when quitting time was, because people didn’t leave at quitting time in those days. People just worked, and they worked until whatever their job was done, and if they had to be there until five o’clock or seven o’clock or nine-thirty or whatever it was, they were just there. They did it, and then they went home. So four o’clock or four-thirty, whenever the bell rings, you didn’t see anybody leaving. Everybody was still working.

The way that happens and the way that made it different from other sectors of the government to which some people are sometimes properly critical is that this was a project in which everybody involved was, one, interested, two, dedicated, and, three, fascinated by the job they were doing. And whenever you have those ingredients, whether it be government or private industry or a retail store, you’re going to win.

Related image

Exhausted unshaven and lovin’ it

Interested, dedicated, fascinated by the job – Armstrong’s explanation could serve as an excellent description of the esprit de corps we find in good private growth companies.  Not too long ago we quoted Ben Dyer, president of Techdrawl, about how entrepreneurs need to inspire all the members of their team to share the founder’s drive in the early stages of a company:

All those textbook methods of performance reviews, pay incentives, etc. will come in handy when you get to the 50th or 100th employee, but right now you’ve got to be the one out front – with inexhaustible energy, enthusiasm, creativity, and a clearly articulated vision.

In a bit of serendipity we stumbled on this related post, from Richard Martin, which makes an interesting distinction between esprit de corps and teamwork:

Cohesion and esprit de corps are even more intangible. Where teamwork is built on the willingness of individual team members to subsume their own interests in favor of group interests, esprit de corps is built upon the willingness to sacrifice oneself, if needed, for the interests of the group. This is a level of commitment that few organizations in business achieve.

Mr. Armstrong described himself (with characteristic humility) as:  “I am, and ever will be, a white-socks, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer.”  Perhaps that, and a bit more, Sir.  Godspeed.

89 years worth of “the greatest thing since sliced bread”

On this day in 1928, the Chillicothe Baking Company of Chillicothe, MO, sold mechanically sliced bread for the first time in the history of the universe.  This gives us a great opportunity, on a Friday, to re-post a Greatest Hit from our Vintage Future Series – originally published on November 13, 2014:

Our Vintage Future series takes a tongue-in-cheek look back at the failed predictions of past generations of investors and futurists, and the sometimes tortuous routes to success of unlikely ideas.

In our line of work it’s good to guard against the hubris inherent in projecting conventional wisdom too far out into the future, and to remind ourselves that today’s trend can be tomorrow’s punchline – and vice versa.

Our VIIth installment takes a look at “the greatest thing” ever invented and a simple innovation that dramatically altered how we see the world.

Grok this:  Betty White is older than sliced bread!

Grok this:  Betty White is older than sliced bread!

Even sliced bread took 18 years to succeed.  Otto Frederick Rohwedder, a jeweler from Missouri, built his prototype “Machine for slicing an entire loaf of bread at a single location” in 1912 but saw it destroyed in a fire.  15 years later he filed his patent, but the end product languished due to its untidy appearance and concerns about freshness.  One year later a St. Louis baker named Gustav Papendick put it in cardboard trays and wrapped it in wax paper, yet even then it didn’t take off until it helped a little company called Wonder Bread go national in 1930.

Except for a brief ban during WWII (the steel used to build the slicers had more pressing uses), sliced bread grew quickly and became a platform on which others could dream and build – in this case new types of spreads and jams.

Sometimes a simple idea – like digging ditches – can change the world.  Before most cables ran underground, all electrical, telephone and telegraph wires were suspended from high poles, creating strange and crowded streetscapes.

A tower with 5000 phone lines in Stockholm, cused 1887-1913

BPV Invests in Pensacola-based Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems

Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems Raises Series B Growth Funding

SOURCE: Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems, LLC

PENSACOLA, Fla.—June 20, 2017Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems, Inc. (IRIS), the industry leader in early detection systems for diabetic eye disease, today announced the company successfully closed a round of Series B financing. The round was led by Ballast Point Ventures, a later-stage venture capital and growth equity firm that invests in rapidly growing, privately owned companies in the health care and technology industries. The round also includes investments from two healthcare system funds, Providence Ventures and current IRIS customer, CoxHealth. Funds raised will be used to support the company’s expansion and growth strategy as well as to support IRIS’s goal of developing the next generation of products that detect eye disease and improve the monitoring and care of patients in diabetic populations.

“IRIS was founded with the idea that through innovative and forward-thinking preventative care systems, we could save the sight of millions of patients,” said IRIS Founder and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Sunil Gupta. “Everyone deserves a lifetime of sight. I am pleased that Ballast Point Ventures, Providence Ventures and CoxHealth have joined IRIS to improve the lives of patients with diabetes and see the value in our goal to develop the next generation of solutions.”

“With the capital from this financing, IRIS will be able to build on its leading position in the market while continuing to innovate and serve its forward-thinking health system clients,” said Matt Rice, Partner at Ballast Point Ventures. “We are excited to partner with Dr. Sunil Gupta, Jason Crawford, and the entire IRIS team to execute on the company’s mission of ending preventable blindness.”

“IRIS is emblematic of Providence Ventures’ investment strategy. Our fund’s interest was driven by deep insights collected from our Providence St. Joseph Health operating colleagues, and their enthusiasm regarding IRIS’s diverse and important value proposition. Providence St. Joseph Health’s clinical leaders are excited about the potential of the IRIS solution to dramatically enhance our ability to care for diabetic patients,” added Jeff Stolte, Partner at Providence Ventures.

“CoxHealth and IRIS have developed a partnership that has produced meaningful outcomes for our patients,” said Jake McWay, Senior Vice President and CFO of CoxHealth. “In recognition of the results we achieved over the last year, we were jointly awarded a 2017 Microsoft Health Innovation Award. We are excited to see the impact of this expansion and investment, and believe great things are ahead for this collaboration.”

The IRIS retinal telemedicine platform was developed to help end preventable, permanent blindness caused by diabetic retinopathy through early diagnosis. The IRIS platform is in place at 94 health systems across 28 states. IRIS seamlessly sits within a primary care physician’s existing workflow, dramatically increasing a health system’s ability to achieve superior annual diabetic retinopathy compliance rates. IRIS enables health systems to increase access, improve care coordination, lower costs and achieve 5-Star outcomes. In four years, IRIS clients have examined 183,498 patients with diabetes and found sight-threatening disease in nearly 31,624. One-third of the patients examined with the IRIS technology have been diagnosed with some form of retinal pathology.

“Great strides have been made to unseat diabetic retinopathy as the leading cause of blindness worldwide. The only barrier to success is early detection. IRIS closes the care gap for those patients that do not receive annual diabetic retinal exams. This investment will allow IRIS’s committed team and partners to execute to our vision of preventing blindness both here in the U.S. and worldwide,” added Dr. Gupta.

“Ballast Point Ventures, Providence Ventures and CoxHealth bring a deep understanding of the importance of population health management,” said IRIS CEO, Jason Crawford. “This investment will help us continue to improve the infrastructure, technology and services we deliver to our customers. It will lead to innovation that will place IRIS in a strong position to fuel the future of our product and improve the lives of every patient with diabetes that we touch.”

Matt Rice from Ballast Point Ventures and Jeff Stolte from Providence Ventures will join the IRIS Board of Directors, and Dr. C. Mark Costley, M.D. of CoxHealth will serve as Chair of IRIS’s newly established Clinical Advisory Board.

IRIS was advised by Ziegler, a healthcare-focused investment bank headquartered in Chicago, Ill.

About Ballast Point Ventures

Ballast Point Ventures is a later-stage venture capital fund established to provide expansion capital for rapidly growing, privately owned companies in diverse industries, with a particular emphasis on companies located in the Southeast and Texas. The BPV partners have more than 70 years of combined experience investing in and building high-growth companies in a number of industries, including healthcare, business services, communications, technology, financial services and consumer. BPV has $360 million under management and seeks to make equity investments ranging in size from $4 million to $12 million. www.ballastpointventures.com

About Providence Ventures and Providence St. Joseph Health

Providence Ventures was founded in 2014 to manage a $150 million venture capital fund on behalf of Providence St. Joseph Health. Providence Ventures aims to drive innovation across the health care system to improve quality and convenience, lower cost and create better health outcomes. Providence St. Joseph Health is a new organization created by Providence Health & Services and St. Joseph Health with the goal of improving the health of the communities it serves, especially those who are poor and vulnerable. Together, its 111,000 caregivers (all employees) serve in 50 hospitals, 829 clinics and a comprehensive range of services across Alaska, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas and Washington.

About CoxHealth
CoxHealth is the only locally owned, not-for-profit health system based in Springfield, Mo., and is nationally accredited by DNV GL – Healthcare. Established in 1906, the organization serves a 25-county service area in southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas, offering a comprehensive array of primary and specialty care through five hospitals and more than 80 clinics. CoxHealth also serves the unmet needs of its friends and neighbors by providing more than $148 million annually in community benefit. The health system includes Cox Medical Center South, Cox Medical Center Branson, Cox North Hospital, Meyer Orthopedic and Rehabilitation Hospital, Cox Monett Hospital, Oxford HealthCare (the nation’s second largest hospital-based home health agency), Home Parenteral Services (home infusion therapy), CoxHealth Foundation, Cox College, Cox HealthPlans and more.

About Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems

Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems (IRIS) is the industry leader in early detection systems for diabetic eye disease. The company’s IRIS solution is an end-to-end FDA-cleared, telemedicine system that has improved quality, expanded access and reduced costs for diabetic retinopathy exams across the U.S. IRIS was founded in 2011 by nationally recognized retina surgeon Dr. Sunil Gupta, with a vision to end preventable blindness through the development and deployment of retinal diagnostic services in the primary care setting. The IRIS team of physicians, technicians and best practice client success experts partner with forward-thinking providers and payers to enhance patient outcomes by closing care gaps in healthcare systems. IRIS is the recipient of the 2017 Microsoft Innovation Award and the 2016 Frost & Sullivan New Product Innovation Award in Diabetic Retinopathy. For additional information, visit www.retinalscreenings.com

More subtle than the California Gold Rush or Irish Potato Famine but is just as significant

Two stories came to our attention over the weekend:

Illinois may be the first state since 1933 to declare bankruptcy because they’ve chased off too much of their tax base with public policies hostile to entreprenuers, while…

Our home state of Florida has 3 of the top 20 cities in the country for tech job growth:  Orlando (6th), Jacksonville (9th) and Tampa (17th).  ZipRecruiter looked at 8 million active job postings and concluded:

The study listed tax breaks, government policies and cost of living as reasons tech companies are moving to Florida cities.

Huntsville, Ala., was first on the list.

“The tech industry is no longer bound to the coast,” said ZipRecruiter’s Chief Economic Adviser, Cathy Barrera. “As a result, we’re seeing the tech industry expand out of the major metropolis areas, and into smaller regional cities that have since flown largely under the radar.”

In The Spirit of the Laws Montesquieu posited that the invention of The Letter of Exchange was politically transforming because capital could now travel.   In his view it has always been true that:

Commerce is sometimes destroyed by conquerors, sometimes cramped by monarchs; it traverses the earth, flies from the places where it is oppressed, and stays where it has liberty to breathe.

The migration of talent and capital to the high-tech corridors of the Southeast has been more subtle than the California Gold Rush or Irish Potato Famine but is just as significant.  Some states are chasing away their earners, workers, and entrepreneurs; this is their tax base.

The growth corridors of the high-tech South would have a mercantile-like advantage but for the fact that employers can (and do!) simply move in order to thrive under our growth-oriented tax policieslower public sector debt burdensstronger job creation, excellent climate for entrepreneurs, and a superior overall business climate.  (The actual climate happens to be conducive to a great quality of life as well.)

Iconixx Named among ‘50 Fastest Growing Companies of the Year 2017’ by The Silicon Review Magazine

AUSTIN, Texas–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Iconixx today announced that The Silicon Review Magazine has named it among the ‘50 Fastest Growing Companies of the Year 2017.’

“We are honored to be recognized by The Silicon Review Magazine as the one of the 50 Fastest Growing Companies of the Year 2017”

Tweet this

“The Silicon Review 50 Fastest Growing Companies of the Year 2017 program identifies companies which are revolutionizing the decision making and business growth process, and winning a spot on this list indicates the company has not only distinguished itself from peers by proving itself as one of the fastest growing companies but also helping other companies to gain momentum in the marketplace,” said Sreshtha Banerjee, Editor-in-Chief of The Silicon Review Magazine. The publication has selected Iconixx based on its financial growth, ability to retain customers, frequent innovation, and contribution to the IT sector at large.

“We are honored to be recognized by The Silicon Review Magazine as the one of the 50 Fastest Growing Companies of the Year 2017,” said Derrik Deyhimi, Founder and CEO at Iconixx. “We are very proud of our product, sales and customer service accomplishments, and expect to see that accelerated in the next year.”

Iconixx has increased its sales force significantly to continue its momentum of growth. The team is focused on making their customers’ lives better through product innovation and its unrivaled customer support.

About Iconixx

Within every sales professional is a primal, quota-crushing beast. If you’re responsible for managing compensation, you are the beastmaster. The beastmaster has no time for tedious compensation routines using inferior tools like spreadsheets. The beastmaster, meanwhile, cannot abide the irritation of manual commission reconciliations. No. The beast cares only for the hunt. Iconixx is a sales compensation solution that automates commission plans and eliminates sales downtime caused by trivial administration. So get Iconixx – and unleash the beast. Iconixx is headquartered in Austin, Texas, and is online at www.iconixx.com.

How to recruit a Board of Directors, continued

A recent article in Forbes offers excellent advice for recruiting a board of directors – in the form of the Top 10 Questions High Performance Directors Ask Before Joining a Board.

We think looking at the subject from that point of view is a very useful exercise that can help entrepreneurs with one of their most critical tasks.  Here’s how we ourselves once put it, in a 2012 post entitle How to recruit a Board of Directors:

While the “owners” of public companies often get to pick their board members more in theory than in practice, owners of private companies get to pick both their investors and their board members. Choosing partners who best fit over the long term requires as much rigor and thoughtfulness as any decision an entrepreneur makes.

Many small private companies have no or underdeveloped boards.  We encourage all our portfolio companies to build great boards and then use them constantly.  Entrepreneurs are almost always surprised how much value a good board can bring to their companies, and the best boards are a function of both the quality of the people involved and, just as importantly, how they operate.

We encourage you to read the entire Forbes piece, but for our purposes we chose 2 of the 10 and offer a handful of supporting links to related posts here at NVSE.

2. Will your management team be open to listening to board level input? Is resistance futile? Is dissent embraced in discussion?

Recruiting strong board members gives an entrepreneur the opportunity to create an environment of mutual accountability in which team members trust and challenge each other and compensate for the all-too-human tendency to learn only after it’s too late.

7. Does your company have institutional or professional systems and processes in place? Does the machine run smoothly, or is it held together with chewing gum?

While professional systems and processes are (of course) required to grow a high-growth company out of the garage, it’s also important for leadership to remember to also build the ‘robust social systems’ in which board members’ informal modus operandi ensure that all those well-designed systems function properly.

HotSchedules Announces New CEO, Changes to Leadership Team and Record Usage Numbers

News Provided on May 16, 2017 by HotSchedules

AUSTIN, TX – MAY 16, 2017 – HotSchedules®, a leading provider of technology solutions for the restaurant and hospitality industries, announced Mike Arenth as Chief Executive Officer. Arenth started with the company in late 2016 and implemented key leadership changes to better support innovation and growth. Prior to joining HotSchedules, Arenth was a Senior Advisor to Silver Lake, an Executive Vice President at SAP and before that spent 10 years at Ariba as General Manager and Senior Vice President.

“Restaurants remain economic powerhouses but technology is rapidly changing the industry and I’m confident that Mike is the right person to lead HotSchedules forward,” said Kevin Costello, Chairman of HotSchedules. “He is a seasoned executive with proven ability to create strategic clarity, focus an organization and drive innovation and growth particularly in industries facing transformation.”

“HotSchedules is built on a solid foundation— great products, strong financials, very engaged users, world-class customers and a talented team dedicated to meeting the ever-changing needs of this evolving industry,” said Arenth. “I’m honored and excited to lead HotSchedules to create the next generation of intelligent back-of-house solutions that will help our customers drive into the future—thoughtfully, efficiently, successfully and profitably.”

The company also announced record usage numbers for its popular platform designed to streamline back-of-house operations including training, scheduling, time & attendance, shift communications, task management, inventory, financials and analytics. HotSchedules serves over 2 million users in over 130,000 locations across 26 countries.

In 2016 alone, HotSchedules customers:
  • Scheduled 1.6 BILLION hours
  • Exchanged 224 MILLION messages
  • Traded 12.5 MILLION shifts
  • Completed over 5 MILLION online training courses
  • Completed over 1 MILLION online training certifications
  • Generated over $65 BILLION in restaurant sales
  • Purchased $24 BILLION in inventory through the platform

To further strategic momentum, the company has expanded its leadership team to include a dynamic group of executives to compliment the deep restaurant industry experience of Co-Founder David Cantu and the existing HotSchedules team.

The new leadership team includes:
  • Ted Kondis, Chief Revenue Officer who brings experience in general management and sales from Ariba, Arthur Anderson and SAP.
  • Neville Letzerich, Chief Marketing Officer who previously served as CMO at Forcepoint, LLC. Prior to that Letzerich held executive, product, marketing and consulting roles at EMC, Bazaarvoice and Accenture.
  • Sean Fitzpatrick, Chief Operations Officer has been with the company for 3 years and is promoted to COO. Fitzpatrick previously served as Global Vice President of Strategy and Innovation at Oracle and has held senior leadership at BearingPoint, BroadVision and Lucent Technologies.
  • Brian Gaffney, Senior Vice President of Engineering: After more than three years of engineering leadership within HotSchedules, Gaffney has been promoted to SVP Engineering. Prior to that, he spent fifteen years at software start-ups including, AmberPoint, App Dynamics, Symplified, and Emotive Communications.
About HotSchedules

HotSchedules provides mobile, cloud-based technology for the restaurant, retail and hospitality industries. The company is committed to serving those who serve others through a comprehensive suite of solutions that make working for and in restaurants – and beyond – more rewarding and efficient. The product suite solves the challenges associated with training, scheduling and managing labor, back-of-house operations and communications. HotSchedules is proud to serve more than 2 million users in over 130,000 locations across 26 countries. For more information visit: https://www.hotschedules.com.

Media Contact: Ryan Bearden, ryan.bearden@hotschedules.com

The only thing he ever made fly was government money

On this day in 1906, the Wright Brothers were granted a patent for their “flying machine.” In honor of the anniversary, we reprint this – one of our most popular, most-read pieces.  

(Original publish date: April 17, 2013)

The process of productive capital allocation is a critical ingredient of innovation and job growth.   Entrepreneurs spending their own (and their partners’) money will create more jobs, more innovation, and a more vibrant economy than politicians picking winners and losers based on cronyism, campaign contributions, and constituent pork.

When government strays out from funding basic research into either applied research or the means of production, the results range from poor to scandalous.  Ideas are infinite, and in the absence of competent execution, they are worth nothing.  Even if the idea has merit, the true expertise is crowded out.  There are better ways policymakers can help encourage innovation.

The invention of the airplane provides an excellent example.  While we’re all aware it was the Wright Brothers, many interesting details about funding the innovation don’t make it into school textbooks.  In A Tale of ‘Government Investment’  Lee Habeeb & Mike Leven recount the race between the bicycle shop owner/operators and the government-backed head of the Smithsonian.

Who better to win the race [to powered flight] for us, thought our leaders, than the best and brightest minds the government could buy? They chose Samuel Langley. [The War Department gave Langley $50,000, an enormous sum at the time, which The Smithsonian augmented with taxpayer funds of its own.]  You don’t know him, but in his day, Langley was a big deal. He had a big brain and lots of credentials. A renowned scientist and a professor of astronomy, he wrote books about aviation and was the head of the Smithsonian.  It was the kind of decision that well-intentioned bureaucrats would make throughout the century — and still make today. Give taxpayer money to the smartest guys in the room, the ones with lots of degrees. They’ll innovate and do good for us.

For that Solyndra-type investment the country got the “Great Aerodrome,” which “fell like a ton of mortar’ into the Potomac River – twice.  Representative Gilbert Hitchcock of Nebraska remarked, “You tell Langley for me that the only thing he ever made fly was government money.”

Samuel Pierpont Langley’s Aerodrome  and launching apparatus.

Nine days after that second failed test flight, a “sturdy, well-designed craft, costing about $1000, struggled into the air in Kitty Hawk.”

How did two Ohio brothers accomplish what the combined efforts of the War Department, The Smithsonian, and other people’s money could not?  The authors cite James Tobin’s To Conquer the Air: The Wright Brothers and The Great Race for Flight (2004) to provide a few answers:

  • Langley saw the problem as one of power:  how to go from zero to 60 in 70 feet, the stress of which was too great for the materials used.  The Wright Brothers, inspired by the practical skills and insights gained from tinkering in their bike shop, understood the problem was one of balance (on a bike, balance+practice = control).  They invented the three-axis control (pitch, yaw, roll) still standard on fixed-wing aircraft today.  Their entrepreneurial technical expertise was an advantage neither the government nor other private competitors (Alexander Graham Bell) could match.
  • Since they couldn’t afford repeated test flights the Wright Brothers were forced to develop a wind tunnel to test their aerodynamics.  This saved money and time, since they weren’t bogged down repairing the wrecks of a flawed design.
  • No government money also meant no government strings.  They were freer to experiment and innovate without worrying about non-essential requests and hidden agendas.  They also managed to do more with less since they couldn’t afford subsidy-induced waste.

Habeeb & Levin also offer this fascinating, if not unexpected, coda:

Though the Wrights beat Langley and the Smithsonian, the race didn’t end there. Powerful interests vied for the patent to this revolutionary invention and, more important, for the credit for it. With Smithsonian approval, a well-known aviation expert modified Langley’s Aerodrome and in 1914 made some short flights designed to bypass the Wright brothers’ patent application and to vindicate the Smithsonian and its fearless leader, Samuel Langley.

That’s right. The Smithsonian’s brain trust couldn’t beat the bicycle-shop owners fair and square, so they used their power to steal the credit. And then they used their bully pulpit to rewrite history. In 1914, America’s most esteemed historical museum cooked the books and displayed the Smithsonian-funded Langley Aerodrome in its museum as the first manned aircraft heavier than air and capable of flight.

Orville Wright, who outlived his brother Wilbur, accused the Smithsonian of falsifying the historical record. So upset was he that he sent the 1903 Kitty Hawk Flyer, the plane that made aviation history, to a science museum in . . . London.

But truth is a stubborn thing. And in 1942, after much embarrassment, the Smithsonian recanted its false claims about the Aerodrome. The British museum returned the Wright brothers’ historic Flyer to America, and the Smithsonian put it on display in their Arts and Industries Building on December 17, 1948, 45 years to the day after the aircraft’s only flights. A grand government deception was at last foiled by facts and fate.

As for Samuel Langley, he died in obscurity a broken and disappointed man. Friends often noted that he could have beaten the Wright brothers if only he’d had more time — and more government funding.

Some things never change.

The Wright brothers’ airplane business never took off (groan) due to a combination of poor business decisions and sloppy patent work.  Wilbur sadly died young (in 1912 at age 45, of illness that some suspect was contracted due to exhaustion from the patent battles) and Orville sold the company in 1915.  So the industry grew under the leadership of other companies and other men.  (Although the Curtiss-Wright Corporation remains in business today producing high-tech components for the aerospace industry.)   One can’t help but wonder what the original inventors might have done had they been the beneficiary of a strong partnership with a VC fund…

© 2017 Ballast Point Ventures. All rights reserved.