Meet award winning medtech entrepreneur Angela Spang at Park Annual
Being a global MedTech entrepreneur was never the plan. Today, Angela Spang runs seven different businesses with focus on improving patient outcome by making surgery simpler and safer. At Park Annual, 30 November, Angela Spang will share her story on how to build a successful business and operate in a highly regulated industry across the globe.
Angela, you’re now CEO of several global MedTech companies. How did you get here?
– This was actually never the plan. I really don’t have the typical background for a MedTech CEO at all. I’m a formally trained dancer, I was remarkable bored in school and left pretty much as soon as I possibly could. But I grew up with parents who were both entrepreneurs and started their own companies. I have an understanding that we’re not stronger than our weakest link, and if I need to pack boxes in my company, I’m going to pack boxes. I think one of my success factors is that I am very practical and focus on what needs to happen next.
You have more than 25 years of experience from the MedTech industry. What have you learnt on the way?
– That we always, always underestimate the speed to market. From inception to market adoption, it always takes more time than we think. As innovators, we have lived with our products for a long time, we love it and think it is the best thing ever. We often forget that nobody else has seen it yet. In one way that’s very healthy. It means that we love our products so much that we will stick with it. But we forget that not everybody else loves it the same as we do. We must love our products, but we must also understand that not everyone will have the quick love story as we have. It’s a tricky balance.
You run seven different businesses. How do you manage?
– I try to keep it simple. There is always a list longer than my arm of things to do. The key to success for me is to hire a phenomenal team and make it as easy as possibly for them to do a good job. For my own mental sanity, I try to focus on the one thing I can do each day to move one of my businesses forward as much as possible – and do that to the best of my capability. Does it always work? No. Sometimes things don’t go as planned. But by working on that one thing, I keep myself mentally focused.
Do you think the experience from your dance career has helped you in your current position?
– Yes, definitely when it comes to product design. I instinctively look at how the body moves. I design for the body of the surgeon or nurse, more than for the body of the patient. I think why my design is so successful is that I know what the body of the worker needs – what feels comfortable, what feels right. Also, I think that my time as a ballerina has taught me the discipline to stick to it. When it hurts, when you just want to cry, I am trained to keep going. Understanding that it will be a long runway, but it’s going to be great when we get there. MedTech innovations, and taking something into commercialization, is not very different than that. It’s a lot of hours of painful training, early mornings and late nights, and no appreciation at all until you get on stage. Then the lights come on, people attend, and the show starts. Suddenly, it’s all worth it.
On 30 November you will enter the stage at Park Annual. What are you looking forward to?
– It’s going to be very special for me to come back to Sweden and to Sahlgrenska. I’m born and raced in Kinna, about 45 minutes from Gothenburg. I’ve always been immensely impressed and grateful for the work surgeons and nurses do daily. To me, every surgery is a miracle performed. But I could never do what nurses do, I could never do what surgeons do. That was not my path. But to be able to come back to Sahlgrenska, having created something that can do it a bit easier and a bit safer to perform these miracles, feels amazing.
Can you give us some hints of what you will share with us at Park Annual?
– I’m hoping that with my unique background, together with my experience of having taking innovations to commercialization and of global market leadership, I will be able to give ideas or pointers to other entrepreneurs. I hope I can inspire innovators to see a path forward for their innovations. I have been helped tremendously by people around me during my journey, this is one way for me to pay that forward. Also, one of my companies is based in the UK. Following Brexit, companies who wants to sell their products in the UK needs to have a legal representative. My UK company provides that service. If somebody is looking for that help, we could probably come up with some points and hints around what would be useful to do and how to set that up.
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