By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2017, The Oklahoma Publishing Co.
This week I heard an inspiring story from Saravan Kumar, Ph.D., CEO of MaxQ Research, a portfolio company that received an i2E-led investment in July.
MaxQ provides packaging systems that are specifically designed to hold and transfer lifesaving and temperature-sensitive biologics, including blood and vaccines. The proprietary technology is based on advanced breakthroughs in thermal insulation sciences.
Before the round, MaxQ had already bootstrapped research and early growth. Kumar and his Oklahoma State University graduate co-founders, Shoaib Shaikh, and Balaji Jayakumar, Ph.D., COO, had signed up about two dozen hospitals and three blood banks.
Post-funding, MaxQ continues to hit milestones.
“It’s been some of the busiest times we have ever had and also some of the most exciting,” Kumar said. “We are in 36 hospitals now and five blood banks and have opened communications with eight more.”
Kumar’s inspiring story came from a hospital who had purchased MaxQ’s packaging a few months back.
“We were visiting on a regular sales call,” Kumar said, “and as they were talking to us, they were so excited about our boxes.”
Kumar expected his customers to be satisfied — when MaxQ, was developing their “boxes” as he calls his sophisticated technology — the products were engineered to a highly demanding specification that would produce packaging that was easy-to-use and significantly more cost effective and efficient for hospitals and blood banks, and, most importantly, would keep contents at temperature specifications longer, reducing potential losses blood and other lifesaving products.
“It’s been positively received in the marketplace, so we were expecting to hear more of the same, that the product was working for what we built it for,” Kumar said. “Instead, we heard that this particular hospital had zero blood losses since they put our product into circulation. They talked about how saving five to 10 units of blood went to save someone’s life.”
It caused Kumar to regard his business in a new way. He called it a humbling experience.
“Building this company is about selling our product, constantly making it better, and keeping our customers happy,” he said, “but this was such a different motivator. Every single person working here is contributing to that. What a clear vision — that saving one unit of blood can actually save someone’s life.”
When Kumar and his co-founders invented the insulation technology that led to MaxQ — they expected to save their customers money and time. They thought of the medical professionals in the hospitals and blood banks they serve as the savers of life.
Now they think differently — and so should we. Oklahoma’s startups bring great products to market and create jobs. But they also help change the world. That’s another reason that as a state, we should do everything we can to help them succeed.
Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state support from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and is an integral part of Oklahoma’s Innovation Model. Contact Meacham at [email protected].