Q&A with Craig Misrach, President and Board Member at UpLyft

Craig Misrach, President and Board Member at UpLyft joined the organization in 2018, spearheading the company's product launch and commercialization efforts. He began his career at Deloitte where he audited various lower middle-market businesses as a Senior Accountant.

Maintaining an active Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license, Mr. Misrach serves on the Board of Directors of Aculief and the Jewish Community Foundation, San Diego.

MEDIA 7: Could you tell us about your career journey from Deloitte to UpLyft?
CRAIG MISRACH:
I started my career at Deloitte as a public accountant and auditor just trying to get the work experience necessary to obtain my CPA license in the State of California. Little did I know how working in janitor closets at client’s office locations whereby doing your job entailed asking questions and information requests from people who didn’t want to talk to you could build so much character!

I left Deloitte to join my client Silvergate Bank where I was the Controller in charge of managing ~$500M in assets at the age of 25. Not only did I gain management responsibility at Silvergate overseeing and working with a staff of 9 individuals, but I also was able to observe first-hand what it was like working in a fast-paced growing entrepreneurial culture as we grew from ~20 to ~70 employees in a short two year period.

I decided to go obtain my MBA at the University of Virginia to round out my skill sets and start a new business from the ground up. This was not a traditional path to do so at the time as most graduate students would go get their MBA from a top-tier program to become an investment banker, management consultant, or marketing manager at a Fortune 500 company. I knew from the time early in my career, and in watching my father start his own real estate business growing up in Ohio, that with hard work and perseverance I could start a successful business from the ground up.

I started my first venture, Freedom Meditech, by way of learning about the diabetes field in my MBA program and researching the reasons why it was still status quo (not just in 2006 but also still today 15 years later) for people with diabetes to be pricking their finger to determine their blood glucose information. I thought that was so archaic and not fair to such individuals when there was better technology available (subject to FDA compliance) to obtain this information non-invasively.

I spent 8+ years as the Founding CEO of Freedom Meditech, where under my leadership, we became the 1st company in the world to obtain FDA clearance for a non-invasive diabetes diagnostic test. The test worked by shining light in a person’s eye for 6 seconds. It was truly revolutionary and the FDA clearance we obtained (the first in the world – we estimated $1B of venture capital went into failed attempts of companies to obtain this FDA clearance and commercialize) was likely one the proudest moments in my career because it was a team effort and a culmination of hard work, numerous late nights, and extremely tough decisions along the way of reducing to practice a prototype, conducting clinical studies, analyzing data, and performing this process all over again several times to support our FDA submission. We built an entire sales organization, international distribution network, sold millions of dollars of product around the world, and then eventually sold the business to Sinocare LTD in China. Our product (ClearPath DS-120) is still used to this day to early detect diabetes and pre-diabetes in patients by clinicians all over the world.
The past 5 years I have spent “giving back” to entrepreneurs and the community by way of participating on Boards of Directors and mentoring aspiring entrepreneurs. This includes positions I have held as a board member on Aculief (sold – June 2020), as a Business/Finance mentor for the San Diego Sports Innovation network, and as a Board Member for the Jewish Community Foundation in San Diego.

I was introduced to UpLyft and our Founder in 2018. I was skeptical at first of the product mostly because I was not familiar with the field and I did not have a frame of reference for how “unique” UpLyft was or the value proposition it embodied. With an investor mentality, I performed due diligence on the durable medical equipment (DME) landscape, other “lifts” on the market for transferring individuals from bedside to wheelchair, and the size of the market opportunity in the US and around the world. Additionally, I had the benefit of being introduced to the company by my contract manufacturer at my last venture (who was slated to be the contract manufacturer for UpLyft), and that helped gain the confidence that we could manufacture UpLyft with impeccable quality, reasonable cost basis, and in a reasonable timeline. I then signed on to be UpLyft’s President and CEO and since that time we have raised capital, performed extensive customer validation (both for the direct to consumer home market and the for the institutional healthcare facility marketplace), accepted pre-orders from customers, and now are staging the business and technology for mass manufacturing in an FDA-compliant manner.

M7:  UpLyft is the world’s first Self Transfer System from bed to wheelchair for people with limited mobility. What are the challenges you faced to launch a high-tech innovation like this?
CM:
Just like any pre-revenue medical device venture, capitalization is key, and you need to kiss a lot of frogs to obtain the capital necessary to invest in manufacturing so you can mass scale your product. Some refer to this as the valley of death. Initially, we were getting lots of questions on customer validation. Things like “the data suggests this will be a huge success, but we have no proof that customers will be this.” Accordingly, we embarked on several initiatives including:

1. Circulation of surveys to potential customers (and family members, caregivers, and healthcare facility workers) to ascertain what was most important from a product feature, utility, and pricing perspective. Check out our B2B Healthcare Facilities for Nurses/Caregivers.
2. Providing in-person demonstrations where we captured testimonials of use and purchase interest.
3. Creating video content of UpLyft in use (seeing is believing).
4. After securing some angel capital that we could devote to efforts outside of R&D prototype creation and patent filing costs, we were able to establish a digital footprint in 2020 (website, order taking capability, e-mail outreach, social media utility, and engagement) whereby actual customer interest could be measured via open pre-order commitments.

With this customer validation now in hand, we believe we can be successful in obtaining the necessary capital (and reducing financing risk) to commence manufacturing and finally provide our pre-order customers and other potential customers a delivery date certain so they have the confidence to place a deposit with us and manufacture and deliver products to them.


Technology is upgrading the healthcare ecosystem by providing more efficient and safe alternatives to labor-intensive procedures.

M7: In your opinion, how is technology upgrading the healthcare ecosystem?
CM:
Technology is upgrading the healthcare ecosystem by providing more efficient and safe alternatives to labor-intensive procedures. In the case of UpLyft, we reduce the number of patient-lifting injuries for healthcare workers. Technology growth within the healthcare system also allows for individuals suffering from illnesses and mobility challenges to live normal lives, as technology can act as a replacement for body parts, organs, muscles, and so on. This can allow patients to regain a sense of independence and joy of living.

M7: Could you tell us about some developments at UpLyft that all of you are excited about?
CM:
UpLyft is the first FDA-compliant self-transfer system from bed to wheelchair for people with limited mobility. This is a technology that can not only help seniors and the elderly as a fall prevention tool in a world where baby boomers want to live at home longer and defer going into a nursing home or assisted living – but it also helps restore independence and autonomy where otherwise a person cannot start their day by getting out of bed without a caregiver or risk falling or getting injured. We are also excited to be bringing to market a product that can help people with obesity (now almost 1/3 of the US population), late-stage diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, or cerebral palsy, and for those who have been in accidents and now manage spinal cord injuries (e.g. paralysis) and mobility has been compromised. Thus, UpLyft can be a long-term purchasing solution for families or a short-term rental option for those managing end of life care.
Our patent estate continues to grow which further solidifies UpLyft’s unique offering and positioning in the marketplace. Most recently we were awarded our design patents in China and Japan – historically very challenging markets to get patents issued. Take a look at our assisted transfer demonstration, and more on it here.

We are also excited about our initial product demand after just a short 60 day period of going “live” late this summer with UpLyft commercialization. We had to “turn off” the digital marketing for pre-orders as we secured more than we expected and now we have to raise the rest of the necessary capital to get our manufacturing up and running. We didn’t want to be in a position where we couldn’t relay to potential customers a delivery date.
Lastly, we are finishing off our crowdfunding campaign on WeFunder which we have been conducting for the past several months where we raised $200K in the capital. As of this writing, of all active campaigns on WeFunder we are the:
#1 most funded healthcare company
#2 most funded medical device company
#3 most funded manufacturing company
#4 most funded B2C technology (Check out our B2C Direct To Consumer for Home Use technology)

We are crowdfunding!! Invest here


Sell product benefits, not features. A customer wants to know how it will benefit them, not how “cool” a certain feature was engineered.

M7: How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your work - what day to day processes have you had to re-tool to be able to pull them off remotely?
CM:
We were operating as a virtual company before the COVID pandemic so not much has changed relative to employee engagement and our team being able to do their job. Obviously from March through June, the capital markets had temporarily evaporated for early-stage capital, and getting an audience in July/August this year was even tough. Now that we are operating in a new normal, we have had to re-tool the way we go about raising capital. One way we did that was by conducting a crowdfunding campaign on WeFunder. This launched in August and is on the cusp of closing and we have secured $200,000 by doing so. This effort forced us to go out and create more digital content which has (and will continue) to provide us benefit with sales efforts for potential customers over social media, our website, and via e-blasts.

M7: What marketing channels do you use, and which ones do you see as the most promising given your target customers?
CM:
The durable medical equipment (DME) field has been notorious for many of its outdated methods to reach customers, relying on physician scripts (prescriptions), the use of intermediary distributors, mandatory need for insurance reimbursement, and thus giving margin away through the supply chain and making it a hassle for purchase for consumers.

When we set out with our commercialization efforts for UpLyft not only were we committed to developing a novel product with its patent positioning, but we also have been committed to disrupting the way a medical product like this can be sold directly to the consumer.
Accordingly, our strategy of bringing to market a cash-pay product that can easily be financed with easy monthly payments (no insurance reimbursement necessary), FDA-compliance that does not require a doctor’s prescription and accessed DIRECTLY by consumers with the original equipment manufacturer, we believe can create stickiness with our customers long-term as we expand our product offering. This could not be made possible without the direct fulfillment capabilities of our contract manufacturer here in San Diego and our robust digital footprint we have created via our website and socials.

Thus, the marketing channels we currently use include our website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and crowdfunding platforms. This gets us directly in front of the eyeballs of people who are in a HEALTH CRISIS (or helping manage a loved one’s health crisis).


A transaction is never done until the money has been wired – so keep your pedal on the gas until that has been completed!

M7: What have you learned from your previous experiences, especially with regard to negotiations and deal-making? Do you have any tips for our readers who wish to ace these skills?
CM:
1. Raising capital, closing product sales, and selling a business are all unique skill sets which at times can be more art than science. Relationships matter and building those relationships can be key in getting a deal across a finish line.
2. Time is of the essence. You may not want/need to emphasize this to the party across the table but your sense of urgency should always have “time” top of mind because you never know when a financial crisis, global pandemic, or other “capital evaporation” event can occur (and the door can shut quickly!). Just remember, any economic downturn or even temporal global or domestic event can cause certain investors to pause.
3. Communicate an expected/anticipated timeline to investors at the beginning of the process. Simply ask “would you like to know how we typically work from here with people that successfully become investors in our company”? They won’t say no to you. And that can give you the opportunity to state a 60-day timeline (e.g. angles) or a 90-120 window if you are working with an institutional investor.
4. Sell product benefits, not features. A customer wants to know how it will benefit them, not how “cool” a certain feature was engineered.
5. It's OK to give in a negotiation. Sometimes it's best to “give” something upfront without a quid pro quo. This can set a better tone for the remainder of the negotiation.
6. Don’t start a negotiation with the most pressing/important item to you. It may not be wise to show your hand in this regard. Many times, I start with easy/non-essential items just to test the pulse.
7. When you have a potential investor who is continuing to ask for things at the end of a negotiation one way to cut it off is by saying “If we can accommodate this item for you, do we have a deal?” If the investor continues to run down items in continuing fashion, interaction after interaction (and has new items each time) it's likely not the best investor for you.
8. If you do not have a good feeling about an investor – reject them. There are other fish in the sea. Many will reject you too so remember it’s a two-way street!
9. An investor (especially a large one) is going to be a partner. It is not just about their money. Do due diligence on them, ask other CEO’s what it’s like to have them as an investor or board member, and “test” them in various fashions to see if they are going to be reciprocal in a give and take fashion. It is more valuable to know what investors to stay away from than what investors to go to.
10. A transaction is never done until the money has been wired – so keep your pedal on the gas until that has been completed!

ABOUT UPLYFT

UpLyft™ is the first known FDA-compliant Self Transfer System (“STS”) from bed to wheelchair for people with limited mobility. In 1 minute, a person can self-transfer him/herself with UpLyft™ from a flat (supine) position in bed into their wheelchair or vice versa. UpLyft™ replaces slings, body boards, and other inferior “lift to stand” mechanisms that require nursing assistance and physical force to transfer individuals with mobility challenges.

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Keystone Healthcare Partners Establishes Partnership with Trinity Medical to Expand Emergency Medicine Footprint into Louisiana

Keystone Healthcare Partners | February 05, 2024

Keystone Healthcare Partners a leading provider of emergency medicine, hospital medicine, critical care medicine, and telehealth staffing and management services, as well as revenue cycle management, recently announced that it has formed a partnership with Trinity Medical in Ferriday, Louisiana. Keystone's delivery of emergency medicine services at Trinity Medical will commence on February 1, 2024. This contract represents an exciting expansion of Keystone's regional influence into Louisiana; the company has managed contracts in Mississippi for decades. Glenn Adams, Keystone's CEO & Co-founder, notes, "We are excited to kick off another partnership with a client where we see opportunity for real impact. We've hit the ground running to shore up areas of frustration for the client and bring value-add and innovative solutions, such as Keystone Connect AI technology to the emergency medicine program." While the healthcare landscape has been challenging for rural and critical access hospitals, the two entities share a patient-centered ethos that will be paramount to the partnership. The two entities share a community- and patient-focus that is embodied by Trinity's motto, "People you know, caring for people you love." "We are very excited to start our partnership with Keystone Healthcare," states Keisha Smith, CEO of Trinity. "My goal for Trinity Medical has always been to provide our patients with the best healthcare and customer service possible in the Miss-Lou area. We feel that Keystone shares the same goals that we have and will be a true asset to our hospital. Henry Ford stated, 'Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.' We are looking forward to a long lasting, successful partnership with Keystone Healthcare." Trinity Medical, a 23-bed licensed facility, continues to grow and upgrade their services and facilities in addition to recruiting physicians to meet the growing needs of their expanding community. About Keystone Healthcare Keystone Healthcare™ is a leading provider of Emergency Medicine, Hospital Medicine, Critical Care Medicine and Telehealth clinical management services and staffing solutions for hospitals. We efficiently deliver high-quality, patient-centered care through strong physician leadership and involved management that drive our innovative and integrated business model. About Trinity Medical Trinity Medical is operated by Concordia Parish Hospital Service District No. 1. Trinity Medical, formerly Riverland Medical Center, opened in 1964 as Concordia Parish Hospital and has continuously served the residents of the area for more than 55 years. In addition to emergency and acute care, Trinity Medical offers surgical services, diagnostic imaging, infusion center, cardio-respiratory care, gastroenterology, lab services, otolaryngology, urology, and an in-hospital rehabilitation service as well as an extensive range of out-patient services, both diagnostic and for treatment.

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Healthcare Analytics

SHL Medical partners with SteriPack Group to set up final assembly service

SHL Medical | January 24, 2024

SHL Medical, a world-leading solutions provider of advanced drug delivery systems and SteriPack Group, renowned global supplier of secondary packing and final assembly services to the pharmaceutical industry, enter a non-exclusive strategic partnership. Together, they aim to establish a pre-validated final assembly service at the SteriPack facility in Poland, enhancing the overall flexibility of supply chain strategies for their customers. In addition to SHL Medical's existing final assembly, labeling, and packaging­ services in the United States, this collaboration extends high-quality CMO options to Europe. Markus Puusepp, SHL Medical's Chief Growth Officer, expressed enthusiasm about the partnership, stating "This partnership is a significant addition to the Molly® platform value proposition. We share common values with SteriPack, from focus on the customer to a commitment to quality, making the decision to collaborate straightforward." Recognizing the importance of flexibility and time-to-market, especially in clinical production, the partnership with SteriPack will offer SHL Medical's customers highly flexible and personalized final assembly and packaging solutions. This is particularly beneficial for small batch handling in clinical supply and niche markets like rare diseases. Emphasizing the comprehensive capabilities of the Molly platform, SHL Medical aims to deliver right-sized solutions that ensure improved service, faster timelines, and a more streamlined supply chain for its diverse customer base. John Ward, SteriPack Group's VP Pharmaceutical Solutions commented "SteriPack Group looks forward to supporting SHL Medical and their customers in providing quality and flexible solutions to a fast- moving market. With an emphasis on creating service solutions designed around specific customer requirements, this partnership will make the process of working with the Molly® platform an easy decision." About SHL Medical As a world-leading solutions provider of advanced drug delivery systems, SHL Medical is the partner of choice for many leading pharma and biotech companies. Driven by its company purpose – Enabling Patients' Independence – SHL Medical offers patient-centric solutions for the design, development, and manufacturing of autoinjectors, pen injectors, as well as innovative specialty delivery systems for large-volume and high-viscosity formulations. It also offers final assembly, labeling, and packaging solutions for its drug delivery systems. In response to the rising trend in home therapy, SHL Medical has increased its developmental work in the digital healthcare sector to help improve the drug delivery ecosystem. Located across Switzerland, Taiwan, Sweden, and the US, SHL Medical's global team of experts collaborate seamlessly as one team in utilizing its comprehensive in-house manufacturing capabilities. Its solutions offer customization and optimization for each project while proactively weaving sustainability-driven measures into its designs and processes to contribute to a cleaner earth. About SteriPack Group SteriPack Group is a globally renowned contract packing and manufacturing organisation serving the pharmaceutical and medical device sectors respectively. With a strong emphasis on innovation, quality and compliance, SteriPack's services to the pharmaceutical industry include device design and development, final assembly, labelling, secondary packing, serialisation and aggregation of injectable formats including vials, pre-filled syringes, and autoinjectors. SteriPack's tailored customer-focused solutions make it an ideally suited supplier for small to medium-sized batch volumes required for a growing market of targeted therapies as well as clinical trials. Its proven capabilities in cleanroom assembly and labelling as well as secondary packing services for drug delivery systems and medical devices, combined with significant investment into growing cold chain storage capacity, have helped to make it a trusted partner to top global pharmaceutical companies.

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Medical Devices

Canon Medical Systems and Olympus Announce Business Alliance regarding Endoscopic Ultrasound Systems

Canon Medical Systems | January 15, 2024

Canon Medical Systems Corporation and Olympus Corporation announced that we have reached an agreement to collaborate on Endoscopic Ultrasound Systems. Canon Medical will develop and manufacture diagnostic ultrasound systems used in Endoscopic Ultrasonography1 (EUS), and Olympus will perform the sales and marketing efforts. The aim of this collaboration between Canon's Aplio i8002 diagnostic ultrasound system for EUS and Olympus' Ultrasound Endoscope3 is to provide the market with advanced EUS equipment capable of delivering high-quality image diagnoses. Canon Medical and Olympus are focusing on technological advancements and enhancing diagnostic performance in the EUS field, with plans for global expansion, starting in Japan and Europe. Canon Medical has a history of more than 100 years in the diagnostic imaging systems business, including X-ray diagnostic systems, CT, MRI, and ultrasound diagnostic systems, and provides products and services to more than 150 countries and regions worldwide. Canon Medical has been a leading company in the development of diagnostic ultrasound systems since the 1960s and has pioneered the development of A-mode (Amplitude display mode) systems for neurosurgery and linear electronic scanning systems, among others. Canon Medical's strengths lie in its advanced ultrasound image quality and proprietary technologies, such as D-THI, an image quality enhancement technology, and SMI, an imaging technology that enables the delineation of extremely slow and fine blood flow, which has been difficult to image in the past. Olympus has contributed to elevating the standard of care through early detection, diagnosis and staging, and minimally invasive treatment since developing the world’s first practical gastrocamera. In the field of EUS, Olympus has worked closely with physicians to develop new equipment to enhance imaging and diagnostic methods and expand procedures, helping gain and maintain a high share of the global market. Through our collaboration, the two companies will achieve further qualitative improvements in the quality of images and performance in diagnosis and minimally invasive treatment of EUS, ultimately contributing to facilitate the early detection of diseases. Comment from Toshio Takiguchi, President and CEO, Canon Medical Systems Corporation “We have been promoting our business with diagnostic imaging at its core under the philosophy of 'Made for Life,' which expresses our desire to contribute to medical care that protects precious lives. We have a long history in diagnostic ultrasound systems and have developed unique technologies that contribute to the early detection of diseases in cooperation with doctors around the world. We are very pleased to collaborate with Olympus, a leading endoscope manufacturer, in the EUS field, which we have not been able to cover adequately until now, to deliver superior solutions to more patients.” Comment from Frank Drewalowski, Executive Officer and Endoscopic Solutions Division Head, Olympus Corporation “Olympus aims to improve patients’ quality of life through early diagnosis made available with Endoscopic Ultrasound Systems. In the field of EUS, diagnostic ultrasound systems are very important, and we are pleased to have a cooperative relationship with Canon Medical, which has advanced ultrasound imaging technology. Canon Medical and Olympus will continue to introduce products and technology that address the needs of the patients, healthcare professionals, and the broader medical industry.” This examination uses ultrasound attached to the tip of an endoscope to observe the outer organs (pancreas, gallbladder, bile ducts, liver, etc.) from the stomach and duodenum. Compared to the approach from the body surface, the target organs can be observed at close range, allowing detailed diagnosis with clearer images. In the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, EUS is recognized as having the same diagnostic capability as contrast-enhanced CT and MRI in the "Guidelines for Pancreatic Cancer Treatment (2022)" in Japan. EUS-FNA (Endoscopic Ultrasonography-FNA: a test to collect tumor cells using an ultrasound endoscope) enables qualitative tissue diagnosis by minimally invasive cell and tissue collection and is established worldwide as a diagnostic method when pancreatic cancer is suspected. In addition to endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), which is the first choice for stent placement for obstructive jaundice, endoscopic ultrasound-assisted biliary drainage (EUS-BD) using the EUS-FNA technique is now available. With the advent of these devices, the endoscopic treatment area of Interventional EUS has been attracting increasing attention in recent years. About Canon Medical Systems Canon Medical offers a full range of diagnostic medical imaging solutions including CT, Diagnostic and Interventional X-ray, Ultrasound and MR, as well as a full suite of Healthcare IT solutions, across the globe. In line with our continued Made for Life philosophy, patients are at the heart of everything we do. Our mission is to provide medical professionals with solutions that support their efforts in contributing to the health and wellbeing of patients worldwide. Our goal is to deliver optimum health opportunities for patients through uncompromised performance, comfort and safety features. At Canon Medical, we work hand in hand with our partners - our medical, academic and research community. We build relationships based on transparency, trust and respect. Together as one, we strive to create industry-leading solutions that deliver an enriched quality of life About Olympus At Olympus, we are committed to Our Purpose of making people’s lives healthier, safer and more fulfilling. As a global medical technology company, we partner with healthcare professionals to provide best-in-class solutions and services for early detection, diagnosis and minimally invasive treatment, aiming to improve patient outcomes by elevating the standard of care in targeted disease states. For more than 100 years, Olympus has pursued a goal of contributing to society by producing products designed with the purpose of delivering optimal outcomes for its customers around the world.

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UpLyft

UpLyft™ is the first known FDA-compliant Self Transfer System (“STS”) from bed to wheelchair for people with limited mobility. In 1 minute, a person can self-transfer him/herself with UpLyft™ from a flat (supine) position in bed into their wheelchair or vice versa. UpLyft™ replaces slings, body boar...

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