Babson Professor Edward Marram, Case Director
Carl Hedberg, Case Writer
Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship
© Babson College, 2005.
With nearly $10 million and six years invested, Avi was not about to give up on his dream. In 2004, his company Visionsense was surviving on bridge loans as Avi worked to re-invent his concept under the direction of a powerful lead individual investor. Visionsense is a dramatic story of perseverance and commitment. Founder Avi Yaron began the business in 1998 after a terrible accident had spotlighted for him the limitations in the field of surgical optics. He set out to develop the first-ever minimally invasive surgery (MIS) scope with depth perception—something optics-research powerhouses like Olympus, Pentax and Fuji had been trying to accomplish for years. Unlike those pure-optics efforts, Avi’s technology was combined with sophisticated image processing algorithms. And it worked. But despite a number of successful field trials, Avi was unable to gain the traction he needed to develop the global sales and marketing powerhouse that he had originally envisioned. The onset of the global recession in 2001 had forced him to make severe cuts; by half, and then by half again. By the spring of 2003, his team had dwindled from over 30 to 10, and his investors were indicating a desire to close the doors and cut their losses. Avi wouldn’t hear of it, and instead began to seek out strategic alliances. When he found some very large corporations in the medical space to be highly receptive, he called Lewis Pell, a wildly successful serial entrepreneur in the field of medical devices. Mr. Pell was interested, but the business would be run on his terms—meaning Avi would become a relatively minor shareholder, would be required to move his young family from Israel to the United States, would continue to work incredibly long hours, and would have to hand over the leadership of his company to an aggressive group that expected Avi to do what he was told. The upside was that a successful rollout would change the face of medicine forever, and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for his visionary venture.
Teaching Objective: To present an example of passion, perseverance and strategy adjustment as a driven Israeli entrepreneur works to commercialize a core technology in the medical devices space.
Key Words: Re-Aligning the opportunity Attracting investors Strategic partnerships Research & Development Introducing a New Technology Patents Maintaining momentum in the face of severe budget cuts, layoffs Sales management Fund raising and bridge loans Working with a wealthy, high profile lead investor Board of Directors
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A 2-page case teaching note, written by Ed Marram, is available for this case.