Anyone who’s suffered a serious injury – particularly a patient who’s been in the ICU for a prolonged period of time – knows muscles quickly atrophy when completely immobilized, and that can result in long and painful rehabilitation to restore the lost muscle mass. Brian Fahey came up with a novel solution to this problem when he joined Fogarty Innovation as the organization’s second company, following HeartFlow. His company, Niveus Medical, developed innovative rehabilitation solutions to accelerate patient recovery following a prolonged ICU stay. The Niveus technologies helped patients during more than 10,000 treatments at 20 hospitals throughout the U.S. prior to being acquired by Stryker in 2017.
“Tom Fogarty was one of my first investors, and I felt fortunate to have the chance to join the organization right as he was getting it off the ground, giving us a place to design and test our product during a critical phase,” said Brian. “I was quite young, and having a mentor like Tom was invaluable as it helped me avoid many of the mistakes you inevitably make as a first-time CEO.”
Finding his next opportunity
Following his time at Niveus, Brian spent the next couple of years seeking his next endeavor. He joined Johnson & Johnson Innovation in various partnership, strategy, and business development roles but soon returned to his startup roots with Arrinex, which developed an innovative cryoablation technology for the treatment of chronic rhinitis and was also sold to Stryker.
He then joined Shifamed, a leading medtech innovation hub based in Silicon Valley, as executive-in-residence. While there he developed the idea that led him to co-found and become CEO of Adona Medical, which is creating a novel solution for heart failure. The startup recently secured an impressive $39 million Series B financing round shortly after completing a $22 million Series A funding.
A pre-clinical stage company, Adona is building two separate heart failure systems that feature implantable devices and are designed to overcome the shortcomings of current devices. The latest round of funding will be used to complete product development and support further evaluation of the company’s next-generation heart failure management platform. “We are very excited that our finished product is fast-approaching, and our ability to raise significant sums of money to date confirms the potential of our technology,” said Brian. “Our team has been working very diligently on these complex electromechanical implants that promise to greatly advance treatment for heart failure patients.”
Rediscovering the joy of a startup and sharing his wisdom
Returning to head a startup company was inevitable, given Brian’s passion, and he was personally interested in helping find a treatment for heart failure as he has had relatives who suffered from the condition. “I’ve always enjoyed taking on big challenges, and there are still so many unmet healthcare needs that need to be addressed,” he said. “There’s nothing more rewarding then helping patients become more independent and improving their quality of life so they can participate in the activities that matter most to them.”
As a serial entrepreneur, Brian has learned numerous lessons that are key to his success. First, he believes in always being your own hardest critic. “It’s easy to convince yourself something is a good idea, when instead you should weigh the opportunity costs,” he says. “When you consider you only have a few chances to do something very impactful during your career, you have to decide whether a given opportunity is worth gambling 20% of your remaining professional time on.” While it’s always exciting to start something new, this perspective helps him ensure he’s only taking on the right projects – those he just can’t imagine not doing.
In addition, he recommends surrounding yourself with people who aren’t afraid to share their opinions rather than tell you what you want to hear. That’s where he’s seen the real benefit of straightforward mentors, teammates and company leadership. Finally, he emphasizes the importance of building the right team and culture, empowering people to realize they have a voice and a key role, and making sure to share the credit for your successes. “The CEOs usually get most of the credit, but successful companies are almost always enormous group efforts,” he says.
Brian lives that philosophy every day and is proud of the team he has built at Adona. “I’m very excited for the future because I think we have the potential to be disruptive across multiple product classes. I’m confident we’ve got the right team and will get the job done.”