By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2019, The Oklahoman
Successful entrepreneurs have vision. They are driven by passion and possibilities. It is a privilege to watch them in action.
A case in point is Dr. Ryan Dennis, CEO of Linear Health Sciences, a medical device company whose safety valve technology will change the way patients are connected to their treatments. Linear Health is in the final-stages of FDA approval and approaching product launch for the company’s Orchid Safety Release Valve, a globally patented, patient safety device designed to help prevent intravenous (IV) catheter dislodgement.
i2E has been the lead investor in Linear Health’s first two capital rounds. I have come to know this young company very well.
Ryan is a life-long Oklahoman and a graduate of the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics (OSSM) in Oklahoma City. In a time when some parents are breaking rules and even laws to get their children into the “right” university, let me tell you how Ryan’s parents prepared him to succeed.
Ryan’s father started out working construction until his big break washing airplane parts at Tinker Air Force Base as a 21-year-old. This was his path after moving out of an abandoned RV on family property. Neither parent had a college degree when Ryan was born. They both went to college at night, followed by graduate school while he was growing up. They both ultimately achieved senior positions, his father as planning chief at Tinker and his mother as a certified public accountant with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.
“Watching them do it, they were a complete inspiration of work ethic and determination,” Ryan told me. “I spent a year in headphones so they could study for grad school. For an allowance increase, I had to write a proposal at 10 years old describing why I needed the money and the additional responsibilities I would take on to earn it.”
Another thing that Ryan’s parents did was encourage him to move out of his home at age 16 and attend OSSM.
“I came from this small town; there were 18 kids in my class,” he said. “The counselor for all of K-12, Kim Vandeveer, told me in the seventh grade that if I wanted to be a doctor, this was what I had to do. OSSM was an eye-opening experience, realizing how much educational benefit came from being surrounded by people who were diverse and different. My parents wanted that for me.”
Ryan’s parents retired a few years ago, sold their house, and have been traveling the globe, ever the example of lives well-lived to their son.
“They are an inspiration on doing what you do to make you happy,” he said.
“With things going so right at Linear Health, in terms of raw emotion, it’s literally a dream come true,” he said. “I don’t work for anyone anymore. I started my own hospitalist group. I’m the CEO of Linear. Dan Clark (co-founder and CMO of Linear Health), and I are going to start another company. We’re going to do this over and over, with the next idea, the next right team.”
Ryan sent his parents a text message the other day. “I think I did it,” is what he typed.