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Companion Medical is a diabetes medical device company that offers a smart insulin pen system to help patients take proper insulin doses at the right time. The company’s product, InPen, was the first to be FDA-approved, and revolutionized the medical device industry.
In this week’s podcast, Neal is joined by Sean Saint, founder and CEO of Companion Medical, who shares his entrepreneurial journey. Tech Coast Angel investor Justin Jue also makes a special appearance as co-host, and talks about how he made his very first investment in Companion Medical during their early stages.
Sean graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a mechanical engineering degree, and became involved in the medical device technology field as an engineer for Medtronic. He appreciated that he could do what he was skilled at and also have a significant impact helping others. He eventually moved to San Diego to work for diabetes management companies like Dexcom and Tandem, and stayed in the area ever since.
Although he was heavily focused on developing ways to treat diabetes, Sean did not fully understand the complications of the disease until he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes himself. He realized that automated insulin pumps are good devices, but are inefficient if they are not used by the patients themselves. With a changed perspective, he took it on himself to develop better technology for people to actually use.
After thinking of an idea for a smart insulin pen, Sean began to research for a smart pen company to work with. However, he was unable to find one, and it became clear that if he wanted to do this, he would have to take a leap of faith and do it himself. He started Companion Medical in 2013, and held on to his personal mantra, “Never Stop Talking,”— always bringing conversations and lunch meetings back to his vision for the startup. Through his consistent effort, he was eventually able to meet Justin in a TCA pitch, securing much-needed funds for Companion Medical’s early days.
Companion Medical faced many challenges being the first novel product in the market, having to convince investors that the work they were doing was feasible and important. Although large pharmaceutical companies with resources were interested in creating a similar device, Sean’s startup had the advantage of being quick and flexible, and with his first-hand experience with diabetes, the personal motivation and urge to truly create a product to improve people’s lives.
Listen in to hear Sean’s growth as an entrepreneur through Companion Medical and its recent acquisition by Medtronic, an opportunity to gradually expand in the diabetes management field.
Their favorite local tacos:
Sean: Local taco place in Tecate (South of border in Mexico)
Justin: Don Bravo in La Jolla
Connect with Sean and Justin on LinkedIn:
Learn more about Companion Medical Here:
Thanks to our partners at Cox Business for their support in enabling us to grow the San Diego ecosystem.