From consulting to the Stanford Biodesign program, Andy McGibbon has had a front-row seat to how innovation can advance the healthcare field. And now he is delighted to join the Ferolyn Fellowship as a way to further explore the medtech ecosystem, thus enhancing his newest undertaking, Sonder Capital, a venture firm focused on early-stage medtech startups.
While studying engineering at the University of Cincinnati, Andy had the opportunity to participate in their cooperative education program, where students practice their future profession in real employment environments. His experience working with Boston Scientific through the program opened a window into the medical device world and fueled his passion for applying his engineering skills to the healthcare industry. This spurred him to pursue his next internship at Gynesonics in Redwood City, which at the time was an eight-person startup. He loved the dynamic environment of working with a small team, and this experience cemented his long-term vision to work in healthcare and with medical devices.
With a desire to apply his problem-solving mindset to the world of business, he studied technology and innovation management at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (ETHZ), a world-class European technical university. He then returned to the Bay Area and worked as a management consultant for the life sciences industry to gain experience on the business side before applying to, and being selected as a Stanford Biodesign Fellow to pursue his interest in medical devices.
“The Biodesign program is exactly what I was looking for; it taught me the ‘nuts and bolts’ of bringing ideas to market for medical devices, and it gave me a much deeper appreciation for the importance of clinical immersion in identifying unmet needs,” said Andy. “Focusing on patient care to identify clinical needs and coming up with solutions in multi-disciplinary teams was an invaluable experience that helped carve my career path, as well as introduced me to a whole new community of early-stage startups in an environment that is very unique to Silicon Valley.”
The program led to working with an early-stage stealth medtech startup, followed by innovation consulting with small and large companies, and eventually forming Sonder Capital with Kate Garrett, also a former Stanford Biodesign and Ferolyn Fellow, along with Dr. Fred Moll, Jay Watkins and Colby Wood.
Launching a venture firm focused on early-stage medtech startups
Their vision is to make the company more than a VC firm, as the team is fueled by a desire to be actively involved in early-stage startups at many levels. Collectively they have created and nurtured many notable public and private companies, and today are eager to lend their deep expertise as founders, corporate team members, and venture capital and hedge fund investors to help their portfolio grow strategically to positively impact the healthcare system.
“It’s very rewarding to lend the team’s expertise to help advance our portfolio companies to the next level and solve some of the challenges that startups inevitably face during these early stages,” said Andy. “We are currently building our portfolio, and our goal over the next four years is to invest our time and capital with around a dozen companies that promise to make a big impact on healthcare.”
Joining the Ferolyn Fellowship
Andy learned about the Ferolyn Fellowship through Kate, whom he knew through the Stanford Biodesign network and their work together on a team focused on identifying and developing initiatives to improve the diversity of the Biodesign program. The Fellowship had greatly helped her as she was transitioning into a new role as CEO of Ciel Medical (Vyaire Medical); in particular the network of mentors with whom she could bounce ideas off of and learn best pathways to an eventual exit.
“I see a lot of parallels in terms of what I am currently going through professionally in launching a new company, as my first foray into the world of venture capital and investing,” said Andy. “The Ferolyn Fellowship will provide me with perspectives from the incredible community formed around Ferolyn’s legacy, helping me refine my own leadership style and skills to make a positive impact not only on Sonder and our portfolio companies, but on the medtech community as a whole. I am thrilled to be working with my assigned mentor Angela Macfarlane, who has vast experience in the industry and has been an invaluable mentor to so many entrepreneurs.”
Raised in the rural Nevada desert, Andy enjoys all sorts of outdoors activities, including hiking, camping and fly fishing. He is also looking forward to all the joys and challenges that come with parenthood as a new dad.