Texas Tech University

Surgic’s Anatomy: A Cut Above the Rest

Kathryn Dankesreiter, Innovation Hub Team

June 13, 2022

Surgic shares their experiences from the year-long program and where they are now!

A year ago, the Hub Hustle featured Surgic, who at the time was an inductee of the Texas Tech Accelerator program's fifth cohort. What started out as an idea in the mechanical engineering department, today Surgic is taking steps to maximize the level of surgical training in the classroom.

A year ago, Travis Reiss, Kyle Fenn, and Dr. Paul Egan met with Dr. Catherine Ronaghan and began their journey to launch their startup. The engineering students and Faculty C-Startup Ambassador, Dr. Egan, spoke with Dr. Ronaghan, a professor of surgery at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center, and found a need for a comprehensive, affordable surgical training tool.

“Catherine has been a mentor and guide for us,” Travis Reiss, Surgic's CEO, shares, “She helped us paint the picture of the problem, and we are building the solution.”

Combined with the knowledge and background of the three engineers and Dr. Ronaghan's expertise, came Arham Siddiqui and Christopher Ackerman. Siddiqui, a MBA and medical student and Surgic's CFO, and Ackerman, a civil engineering and Surgic's CMO, helped take Surgic to the next level with their business acumen. 

Surgic's diverse team with backgrounds in engineering, medicine, and business came together to launch “transformative medical education products”. Today, the small business is looking to launch their minimum viable product (MVP). 

A Minimum Viable Product

We left Surgic's last feature off with the startup's goal of developing and launching a MVP by the end of this summer.

“MVP development has been a core focus of Surgic throughout the Accelerator Program,” shares Reiss. “We have successfully developed three prototypes in total, the final of which represents our MVP.”

With the advanced prototype finalized, Surgic felt confident in conducting two beta tests. The sessions hosted fifteen to twenty medical personnel, including surgeons, surgical residents, and medical students, operating Surgic's MVP and providing valuable feedback. 

“There is certainly more work to be done to shape our MVP into a market ready product that we feel comfortable with,” explains Reiss. 

Based on the data they received from their beta tests and the NSF I-Corps program, Reiss explains, “A current challenge is whether to invest in further product refinement and development or to push forward with the product launch, right now we're shooting for both.”

The team recognized the value of the product they were building through the NSF I-Corps program. One mentor pushed the team to “finish in first place within our cohort by completing 131 interviews” and this encouragement sparked a fire in Reiss and Ackerman, Surgic's CMO.

“Phil Sizer was our Industry Mentor throughout National I-Corps,” Reiss says, “His guidance throughout our entire journey, has been invaluable.” 

Phil Sizer, the Associate Dean of Research at the TTUHSC, was one of several mentors that helped Surgic generate traction with their idea, offered guidance, and encouraged the team to work towards launching their MVP.

Mentor Magic

Their iTTU Mentor team, led by Kevin Soules, a patent and intellectual property attorney, was vital in addressing Surgic's concerns and connecting the team to potential partnerships.

“We have worked closely with our mentors at each stage of the MVP development process,” says Reiss, “and they have provided actionable feedback to any challenges our team faced.”

Surgic's mentor team consisting of Kevin Soules, Kimberly Gramm, Darrell Guthrie, Mike White, Atul Parvatiyar, John Smothers, and Paul Herchman was awarded the 2021-2022 Mentor Team of the Year Award at last month's Texas Tech Accelerator Graduation and Ribbon Cutting. 

“The monthly meetings with our mentor team gave me the opportunity as the CEO to give structured reports to a leadership team outside of our company,” explains Reiss. “The opportunity to regularly be put on the spot was a great personal learning experience that built my confidence and developed my professional communication skills.”

The Next Big Idea

With a MVP launching within the year, Surgic is already developing their next steps. “We envision launching our initial product into the local West Texas area healthcare market this year or next.”

But what's Surgic's next big? According to Surgic's CEO it's a secret. 

“The next big idea for Surgic… is a secret,” says Reiss jokingly. “In all seriousness, we have many ideas for future products. We envision developing simulator devices for every portion of the body which the surgical industry feels needs better simulation for surgical training.”

When asked what success for Surgic looks like, Reiss answered, “I would define success for Surgic as impacting the surgeons of tomorrow by giving them tools to build the confidence and competency they need to tackle any procedure right out of residency.”