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Healthcare entrepreneurs share secrets to success

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June 06, 2013

Author: Matt Collette



Steve Picheny, who grad­u­ated from the Col­lege of Engi­neering in 1964, has played a part in saving hun­dreds of thou­sands of lives, but few people even know his name.

His med­ical devices com­pany was the first to bring to market the finger pulse oximeter, which mea­sures the oxygen level in a patient’s blood.

“Now it’s on the finger of everyone get­ting oxygen, everyone in inten­sive care, and everyone in surgery,” said Picheny, the founder of Stepic Med­ical, a Hicksville, N.Y., com­pany that spe­cial­izes in selling high-​​tech med­ical devices to doc­tors and hos­pi­tals. “Those patients don’t know who I am, but I know this device has saved count­less lives.”

Picheny was one of three entre­pre­neurial pan­elists who shared their startup expe­ri­ences with approx­i­mately 100 stu­dents, fac­ulty, and alumni on Thursday evening in the Raytheon Amphithe­ater. The Health Sci­ences Entre­pre­neurs, an alumni group ded­i­cated to fos­tering entre­pre­neur­ship in the rapidly evolving world of health­care, hosted the event, which was aptly titled “Anatomy of a Busi­ness Venture.”

Terry Fulmer, dean of the Bouvé Col­lege of Health Sci­ences, deliv­ered the opening remarks, noting that the event was part of the group’s university-​​wide effort to engage entre­pre­neurs across dis­ci­plines and col­leges. “Drawing from across the uni­ver­sity is what makes us great,” she said.

Carl LeBel mod­er­ated the event. A member of the HSE exec­u­tive com­mittee, he received his doc­torate in phar­macy from North­eastern in 1989 and cur­rently serves as the chief sci­en­tific officer of Otonomy Inc., a San Diego, Calif., bio­phar­ma­ceu­tical company.

“The bulk of us are alumni and entre­pre­neurs who vol­un­teer,” he said of the group. “We believe in what North­eastern is doing and we want to give back.”

According to Picheny, the health sci­ences give entre­pre­neurs the oppor­tu­nity to make a dif­fer­ence in people’s lives.

“My advice to you guys is to find a goal greater than making money,” he said. “Have the goal of making this world a better place and you’ll be happy every day you go to work.”

Pan­elist Joseph San­sone grad­u­ated from the Col­lege of Pro­fes­sional Studies in 1974 with a bachelor’s in phar­macy and cur­rently serves as chairman and CEO of Pedi­a­tria Health­Care, an inno­v­a­tive provider of day health­care ser­vices to med­ically com­plex infants and chil­dren in Georgia, Florida, Penn­syl­vania, Louisiana, and Massachusetts.

He noted that his early career suc­cess paved the way for Pedi­a­tria. “This time around, I had people knocking at my door trying to fund me,” San­sone said. “Why? Because we did it right the first time. One suc­cess builds upon another.”

Pan­elist Kath­leen Hagan, pres­i­dent of Hagan and Com­pany, an inter­na­tional mar­keting and man­age­ment con­sulting firm based in Water­town, Mass., said many of her clients are in the health­care field.

“Now is a great time for entre­pre­neurs in health­care,” she said. “There is so much change and so much opportunity.”