Dr. Simon Stertzer was the first to perform coronary angioplasty in the United States on March 1, 1978 at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. Currently, he is the chairman at Biocardia Inc, the company which has developed one of the easiest, safest, and most effective device to implant cells, hormones or other biologically active substances into the heart muscle without resorting to open chest operations. We recently Interviewed Dr. Simon Stertzer to know more about his journey as a medical practitioner & an entrepreneur.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today. The world knows of you primarily due to your academic and medical achievements and particularly the fact that you performed the first coronary balloon angioplasty in the United States. But you’ve also been an entrepreneur who’s founded or helped grow multiple biotech companies over the years. Can you talk about your experience as a medical practitioner & an entrepreneur?
I started out in the 1960s clearly to become an expert in the newly developing area of cardiac diagnosis and treatment. At that time, it was unprecedented for a physician to become involved in the entrepreneurial side of medicine. By the early 1980s, a cultural shift had occurred, allowing practitioners to develop their ideas into business, and not being limited to practice activities. The motivation for all of my entrepreneurial activity has been the advancement of the practice of medicine, not the profit incentive. But if one is successful in achieving a significant breakthrough, it often results in entreprenuerial success.
What are some of the biggest mistakes doctors make when starting a biotech business?
1) Building a company around a product that offers only marginal differentiation, meaning that the advance is only minimal… it is not a breakthrough technology. 2) Poor patent position. 3) Giving away too much of the company early, thus losing control, or conversely, trying to hold on to too much equity, thus not building a strong, invested team.
What are some of the biotech startups that you are most excited about?
There are many, but most recently Corindus Vascular is a company that uses robotics to perform procedures remotely. This will allow cardiovascular intervention to be brought to small communities, which heretofore have depended on patient transports to larger cities for tertiary medical care. This technology will save critical time, and money while improving the quality of care available in small communities.
There are a number of companies that have developed and sold artificial valves which can be placed in patients without open heart surgery.
Do you consider yourself a doctor first or an entrepreneur first? Why?
I consider myself a physician-scientist who has never had a particular interest in business. Even now, business opportunities are consequence of my interest in medical research and are not at all my self-image.
You are currently serving as the Chairman of the board of Biocardia. It’s really hard to understand exactly what Biocardia does based on the information presented online. Can you give us the elevator pitch for the company?
BioCardia is a biotech company which has developed the easiest, safest, and most effective device to implant cells, hormones or other biologically active substances into the heart muscle without resorting to open chest operations. The stem cells, hormones and other agents are under intense investigation, to ascertain if their use will eventually improve or reverse serious heart dysfunction. Many more clinical trials are still needed to define the role of this approach, but it is the wave of the future.
Biocardia is now in a Phase 3 trial. As far as we know, it is fairly uncommon for a drug to go to a third trial. Is this good or bad for Biocardia? And what does it mean?
Phase 3 trials are performed after safety and other preliminary aspects of a new drug or treatment have been assessed by the developer, and the Food and Drug Administration. Phase three is designed to determine if the proposed therapy or drug is superior to existing treatment. It is a good thing for BioCardia to be involved in a Phase 3 Trial because it is closer to clinical availability. Regrettably, extensive trials like these are required, but test the ability of small companies to survive, if they have no other significant product sales.
You are now at a stage of your carreer where you are near retired and Emeritus at the University. Yet you are still the Board Chair of a publicly traded company. What is the relationship between age and success in entrepreneurship?
Naturally, people who are in their sixties and seventies have more experience and can profit from their mistakes. They also have more access to capital, especially if they have been successful in earlier carreers. Nonetheless, the Facebook, Google and Amazon pioneers were hardly old people. They prove that a better idea, device or technology can revolutionize your success and can be independent of your age. This encourages everyone interested in this type of undertaking to look to the quality and originality of their product, and not to their age or lack of experience.
Are any of your children interested in following in your footsteps?
No, not at all. They are pursuing their own, independent career interests.
Our readers are young entrepreneurs all over the world interested in starting a new business or learning how to grow their startups. What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs all over the world?
Before starting a business, you need to become an expert in your area of interest. Although there are success stories of people who dropped out of school and became financial successes, they still learned enough, and undoubtedly educated themselves outside of the traditional academic environment.
Let’s end thinking about the future. In your opinion, what are the top three most exciting trends that will redefine how medical care is delivered to patients, say, by 2030?
1) stem cells 2) the ability to affect the composition and behavior of DNA 3) The use of Artificial Intelligence in the diagnosis and treatment of many medical conditions.
Dani Thompson is Making Noise in the Music Industry to Empower Independent Artists and Aspiring Entrepreneurs
Dani Thompson is the founder of DNT Entertainment. DNT Entertainment is a boutique artist management, artist development, music marketing, and PR agency. DNT Entertainment is a leader in artist development and has been empowering artists to succeed independently without compromising on their creative control.
Dani, Thank you for talking with us. The journey of an Entrepreneur is never an easy one. Kindly describe your journey as an Entrepreneur.
Dani Thompson (Dani N Thompson): My journey as an Entrepreneur has not been an easy one. Lots of research, time, tears, sacrifice, money, late nights, 3 phones, side hustles, full-time jobs to fund my passion, coffee, wine, and at least 2 diet cokes a day. To top it off I birthed 2 humans in the past 7 years while I was building my business, worked a side hustle as a Regional Sales Director for one of the largest financial processing companies in the health and fitness industry, and survived homeschooling and nannying my wild boys during a global pandemic. My journey has been a bit nuts to be quite honest. I thank god for getting me through it, and my family, friends, and clients for their encouragement and support. I honestly would not have been able to do it without them.
What were the initial challenges that you faced in your endeavor as the music industry has a lot of competition?
Dani Thompson (Dani N Thompson): I have always been one to learn everything in life the hard way. This applies not only to my personal life, but also my business journey. It is those hard lessons that have given me the knowledge to lead others, and therefore I know they were a difficult but necessary part of my journey as an entrepreneur. I faced many challenges and still do to this day.
I would say the biggest ongoing challenge has been finding a work/life balance. Knowing when to clock out and turn off my devices so I can live in the moment. Regarding the music industry and the competition there, to be honest I look ahead and not around me and I know there is only one of me. Sure there are amazing people in the industry that I look up to, but I don’t see them as competition. I feel like we are stronger together and collaboration is key to success in this industry. I’m not in a race to win anything. I have a long way to go before I will have reached what I feel would be the ultimate level of success in my career. I know that surrounding myself with people that have accomplished what I hope to someday in my life are not my competitors, but are mentors and are people I can learn from and grow with. The moment you look at your peers as your competition, you will fail. Instead you need to align and focus on finding partners that you can offer a mutual benefit to. We are stronger together.
How and when did you come up with the idea of DNT Entertainment?
Dani Thompson (Dani N Thompson): After graduating college I was asked by a family friend to manage and run a publicity campaign for an artist named Macy Kate. Her family sought my guidance because I had personal experience as an artist from my high school and college years, and had a degree in journalism and the ability to write. I also built an amazing network of creatives and music business professionals, worked with local studios, and had experience in photography, video, and live show production.
My resume and network landed me that first management client and I knew I needed a way to track income and expenses, draft invoices, have a professional public web presence, and all the other things that come with representing talent in the industry. I came up with the name DNT Entertainment which is my initials “Dani Nichole Thompson,” and the rest is history.
Business-wise, 2021 and 2022 had their own challenges. How exciting the future of business looks for you in 2023?
Dani Thompson (Dani N Thompson): I am very excited for 2023. I feel like our industry is slowly but surely recovering from the Covid 19 pandemic that set us all back the past few years. Live music is finally coming back, event mandates are being lifted, interviews are resuming in person, and the industry shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. This gives me great hope for our continued growth in 2023. I am also very excited to be working with our growing roster of amazing artists and the all-female creative and development team at DNT that have brought their talents to the table and have made a significant impact on the success of our clients. I’m also very excited for our continued partnership with Thomas Barsoe and OC Hit and their amazing new recording studio location in Orange County, CA.
Do you believe that music companies have been traditionally exploiting artists?
Dani Thompson (Dani N Thompson): I feel like the label system has a lot to offer artists in terms of marketing, publicity, tour support, team support, global distribution, credibility and radio promotion. I wouldn’t necessarily say artists are exploited, because labels are essentially investors and are taking on such a great risk when they sign talent. If a label or publishing company offers an artist/writer a signing bonus, at some point they need to be able to recoup their investment. That’s the way it works. You get nothing for nothing. To say that the recoupment of investment is “exploitation” would be wrong.
I feel artists need to do their due diligence and research before diving head first into the first label deal they are presented with, and make sure it is the best next step for them. A label deal is not the answer for everyone, especially not artists that want to retain creative control over their projects and ownership of their music. When signing a label deal many times artists are voluntarily signing away that creative control, their catalogs, and their image and brand in exchange for promotion to help them connect with a larger audience and get their music out on a larger platform. Lack of financial investment at an independent level is why artists sign major label deals. They need the money to continue creating music, marketing, promotion, video production, travel, radio, and all the other things that are almost impossible for independent talent to self-fund. Therefore they sign a big part of their lives away knowing that they will be exploited. Why else would a label sign them? They sign them not to help them, but to make money off them. It’s a business.
There are very clear contracts laid out and I feel like it is the duty of the artist to consult with a legal team and mentor before they rush into deals that they will later regret. Labels take a lot of risks when they sign an artist and invest in them financially with no guarantee of return. This is why you see the label deals these days only going to established artists or artists who have cultivated a following on their own. That presents a lesser risk to the label. Create your package, build your following, tie a pretty bow on it, and then present it to a label. At that point, you actually may be in a position to negotiate a mutually beneficial deal and not one where you will feel used and taken advantage of. The best first step is artist development and that’s what we do at DNT Entertainment.
Doing business is all about solving problems. It is equally important to help others in business and in your case, you want artists to remain independent. What are your views on this?
Dani Thompson (Dani N Thompson): I’m not going to say that every artist needs to remain independent. By all means, if they do not have the financial backing to continue the pursuit of their dreams of being an artist, and as long as they know the risks and benefits of signing a label or investment deal, they can make that decision and I will support whatever they feel is the right thing for their career. Every artist has different goals and based on those goals my job is to help build a strategy that will help them get there.
Are there any last thoughts you would like to share with our readers?
Dani Thompson (Dani N Thompson): In the world of entertainment and entrepreneurship, there is no guarantee that you will be successful, but I have learned that the more you put into anything you do in life the more you will get out. You can’t fail if you set realistic goals and if you have the motivation and drive to succeed. Work for love and not money. The money will follow if you are passionate about the work you do. Stay focused and grind it out. Have faith and trust in God and his plan for your life. Don’t look back. Don’t look around. Stop caring what everyone else thinks. Nobody will work harder for you than you, so start there and everyone else will get on the train.
Where to find Dani Thompson
An Interview with Jennifer Miree Cope
Described as thorough and organized by her closest associates, Jennifer Miree Cope graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1985 with a degree in Electrical Engineering.
Jennifer has a deep-seated passion for several non-profit organizations. Especially with the Susan G. Komen Foundation and The O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, which has treated several of her close friends and family members.
Jennifer Miree Cope’s respect for the generosity of nonprofits inspired her to become a volunteer. Currently, she is involved with several charities started by Independent Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama: STAIR tutoring, the Children’s Fresh Air Farm, and Holiday House.
Jennifer’s husband, Pat Cope, is the founder of Cope Private Wealth — a prestigious financial planning firm. When not relaxing with her husband and two sons in Mountain Brook, Jennifer can often be found exercising, walking her dog, or hiking in the mountains of North Carolina.
Jennifer, thank you for doing this. Tell me about your best and worst days at work.
My worst days are the days when we’re busy. You know those days when customers are calling, texting, emailing from early in the morning to late at night. (I can’t help it that it rained that day.) But one of my best days was when we had three very happy clients, two of whom brought me wine!
What are the projects that you most enjoy working on?
Landscaping an empty or nearly empty lot. It’s just like an artist starting with a blank canvas.
What was your biggest ‘a-ha’ moment?
My biggest eureka moment was when I realized that technical drawings such as landscape plans can often be just as pretty as art.
What has been the most important part of your professional journey?
That’s a simple answer. It would have to be time management. There’s simply no way to succeed without it. And I start managing my time well from the beginning – it really starts the minute I wake up in the morning.
What risks is your company facing?
With the economy doing poorly and inflation on the rise, people can always stop landscaping. That’s really the biggest issue here. It is unfortunately a luxury and not a necessity.
What would you do with unlimited resources?
That’s a tough one! I mean, to be honest, there are a lot of things that I would do with unlimited money, and I imagine that’s the same for everyone else too.
But there is one thing that I would prioritize if I had unlimited money: First, I would try to use it to find a cure for cancer. Both of my sisters, my mom, my aunt, and my husband all had cancer. My two sisters died from it. It’s a nasty disease and we need to dedicate more of our resources to fighting against it.
When was the last time you totally lost yourself in doing something?
I would have to say it was the last time I made a needlepoint belt for one of my sons. It can be very easy to find yourself in the zone when you’re engaged in that.
What do you do when you’re not at work?
Yeah, well for exercise, you can usually find me playing golf, doing pilates, or yoga. I often enjoy going out to eat or attending sporting events and musical theater. And I can’t forget that one of my favorite things to do is travel — mostly to our place in the North Carolina mountains.
How do you feel you make a difference in the world?
For me, the number one way to make a difference is tutoring the underprivileged. I have done a lot with STAIR, and I am very proud of that work.
In this interview, Raquel Ureña talks about the second season of ‘NY Never Sleeps’
Raquel, It’s a pleasure talking with you again. Much awaited “NY Never Sleeps” will be rolling out its second season pretty soon. How excited are you about this?
I am really excited. Especially because the participants of this second season are super successful women who are truly inspiring. They are great role models.
Would you like to give a sneak peek into the second season for our audience?
These women of Dominican descent all have successful businesses and they all started with nothing, showing us that if you work hard and remain focused, anything is possible. They are all immigrants and today, have many luxuries due to their hard work. Besides seeing the lifestyles of these women, we will also be seeing a lot of fashionable and trendy, and exclusive places in New York.
When will you start filming?
We will start filming in May and have many plans and exclusive events that we will be attending. We will be showing exclusive restaurants and places that people need to see in NY.
On which platforms, will the second season be available? Also, how many episodes will be there in the second season
There are 13 episodes in the second season and it will be airing on Digital 15 and Telemicro Internacional which is the biggest TV platform in the Dominican Republic. Telemicro Internacional is seen in the US through Comcast cable. The show will be airing towards the end of September. We will be filming all summer.
What are your views on the current status of women in entrepreneurship? especially in the Latina community?
New York is a difficult place to live in and very expensive but these women have proven that even with a humble beginning and hard work, it is possible to get ahead in life.
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