Editor’s note: Startland selected 12 Kansas City firms to spotlight for its annual Startups to Watch list. The following is one of 2019’s companies. Click here to view the full, ranked list of Startups to Watch.
Metactive’s elevator pitch: Medical tech company that makes catheter-based devices used to treat cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, and life-threatening bleeding.
Metactive Medical worked through three generations of its anticipated cardiovascular devices before finally making strides in late 2018 to get regulatory approval for commercialization in 2020, said Dr. Nicholas Franano.
Founders: Dr. Nicholas Franano, William Whitaker
Founding year: 2014
Amount raised to date: $11.5 million
Noteworthy investors: Open Prairie Ventures II, former Kansas Bioscience Authority, Mid-America Angels, Women’s Capital Connection
Current employee count: 6 full-time, 3 consultants
The formerly practicing physician paired up with co-founder William Whitaker, a former attorney and biotech industry veteran, to replace 20-year-old technology currently being utilized in medicine, he said.
Though the second iteration of the devices worked well enough to be taken to market, the Metactive team saw an opportunity for a larger impact, he added.
“Our team said it wasn’t ready,” said Franano. “[Our investors] supported us for another year and that patience, I think, is really going to pay off for them because what we had before was good, what we have now is amazing.”
Metactive’s first products have the potential to treat 150,000 patients a year, said Franano, noting a significant uptick from the previous generation’s estimated 15,000.
“I think one of the things that makes 2019 interesting for us is that it’s going to be the first time physicians and the market and our competitors and patients get to see the new devices and [we will] treat our first patients,” said the co-founder, of the first human clinical trials.
2019 also is the first opportunity for Metactive’s potential acquisition, he added, though 2020 is the current estimation on an exit time.
“I think we’re an obvious acquisition target,” said Franano. “We’re a small company that has something really great and there are multiple competitors in the marketplace that have the old generation technology. That’s what happens in medical devices right now.”
Truly innovative medical devices tend to come from smaller companies, said Franano, noting such startups struggle to reach a global salesforce — less of a concern after an acquisition.
An exit of $100 million to $300 million would grant a sizable return to investors, he said, noting the funds have the potential to be cycled back into the Kansas City startup ecosystem.
“[We] can fuel the growth of other startups,” he added. “We’ve raised money from entrepreneurs who’ve sold their companies, and then when we sell one of our companies, I’m sure we’re gonna invest in entrepreneurs who are getting going on their first company. … It’s kind of a virtuous cycle.”