The Silicon Review
In orthopedic surgery, surgeons treat patients by using plates, screws, rods and other types of hardware designed to restore movement and eliminate pain. The success of these technologies is largely based upon their quality of fixation with a patient’s bones. Technological advances have enabled the healthcare industry to design new materials, devices, and delivery mechanisms that improve treatments (e.g. robotic-assisted surgery, custom implants, biologics, etc.) but fixation with bone is still paramount to successful outcomes.
Today we speak with Brandon Bendes, a member of a team of serial entrepreneurs and investors who specialize in building healthcare businesses, to discuss his team’s latest Venture, Woven Orthopedic Technologies. Brandon and his team specialize in orthopedic medical devices and have built and exited more than 20 businesses over the past two decades. With the launch of Woven, they aim to address one of the largest, unspoken challenges facing orthopedic surgery – ensuring good screw fixation in compromised anatomical environments - so patients avoid secondary surgeries and don’t get “screwed” twice.
A colloquy with Brandon Bendes, Co-founder and Vice President of Strategy & Finance
Can you explain about Woven Orthopedic Technologies? What does the company do?
We all know somebody who underwent surgery only to come out with complications that caused pain, needed additional treatment, or even required additional surgery. What we don’t realize is that prevalence of these complications is quite high and largely influenced by the patient’s internal anatomy, not the surgeon who performed the procedure. Thus, Woven Orthopedic Technologies was created to help surgeons enhance fixation in compromised anatomical scenarios to reduce the risk of complications and the number of patients who need subsequent treatments or additional surgeries/revisions.
When surgeons perform surgeries, they’re constantly analyzing a patient’s anatomical environment to determine the best solution for any given patient. While it sounds simple, no two patients or surgeries are identical. Surgeons must constantly adjust their approach, often improvising during the procedure as they see the patient’s anatomy up close. For example, when a surgeon is operating on a patient’s spine, the surgeon may place a screw into the spine and then realize that the fixation between the screw and bone is not strong enough given the location of the screw and the forces being exerted on it. As a result, the surgeon will use additional means to achieve adequate fixation. Woven Orthopedics provides surgeons with a new way to overcome difficult anatomical fixation environments like these, so that they can achieve better fixation and thus better results.
How did Woven begin? What prompted you to start the company?
My Co-founders and I have been active in the healthcare industry for quite some time now and we collaborate with surgeons often. One of those surgeons, Dr. Alec Jones, approached some of my partners with a concept to standardize the way in which surgeons enhance fixation during surgery, and the idea really hit home.
The concept for Woven was to create a simple way to achieve strong fixation, especially in the most challenging anatomical conditions, so that surgeons would have a standardized way to enhance fixation.
The concept is analogous to a simple, yet highly-effective hardware tool: the wall anchor. Nearly every hardware store carries wall anchors and nearly any products that may be mounted to a wall will include them. Mounting items to a wall is pretty similar to mounting hardware to bone in surgery, so it made perfect sense that the concept would translate effectively in orthopedics. Dr. Jones’ idea to cross-pollinate the wall anchor into orthopedics is the concept behind Woven’s first product, OGmend®.
What is Woven up to today and where do you envision it being in the future?
The OGmend Fixation System, or OGmend® for short, recently became commercially available for spine indications in Europe, specifically in the United Kingdom, Spain, and Italy. We’re also available in Australia and New Zealand under special access designations, with full commercial activity expected later this year.
We chose to release the first generation of OGmend® for spine indications given the increased magnitude of risk and importance of strong fixation in spine surgery. Our ultimate vision is to develop versions for every specialty such as spine, trauma, reconstruction, dental, veterinary, etc. since screws are used in nearly all types of orthopedic procedures.
While demand for OGmend® has been strong, we’re executing a slow, controlled commercial strategy to best understand user habits, continue improving the surgeon experience, ensure better adoption, and effectively fulfill orders. With positive feedback and sales continuing to develop, I’m really looking forward to how this year unfolds.
Why should the world take notice of Woven Orthopedic Technologies?
In orthopedics, we constantly see new technologies that cluster in “hot” trends such as Robotics and AI. These products are revolutionizing the way we conduct surgery. They offer better accuracy, fewer incisions, and a host of other advantages that we’ve never experienced before. However, to work correctly, they still rely on the same underlying treatment concept – the necessity to achieve strong fixation
and integration between hardware
I like to think of these new technologies as the latest iPhones – sexy, sleek, and innovative. Woven’s OGmend® technology is like the processor behind that phone. You rarely hear people talking about the latest Snapdragon processor but the phone can’t function successfully without a stable and powerful processor. OGmend® is the equivalent to the processor. We create a better fixation environment that supports these, new technologies so that surgeons can achieve successful results. While we may not be the hottest new trend, we’re a vital component to fixation, and thus successful treatment outcomes.
Brandon Bendes along with co-founders Ilana Odess, Anthony Viscogliosi, John Viscogliosi, and Marc Viscogliosi formed Woven Orthopedic Technologies in 2013. Prior to starting Woven, Brandon spent the majority of his career in venture capital and management consulting, launching and building healthcare businesses from concept through commercialization, to acquisition or merger. The team at Woven Orthopedic Technologies is responsible for founding and operating well-known medical businesses including companies acquired by Johnson & Johnson, Depuy-Synthes, Stryker, Zimmer Biomet, Boston Scientific, Abbott, and more.
“Today, we operate at the core of the intersection between science, technology, and medicine by leveraging advances in smart engineered bio-textiles to design technologies that help provide better care for less cost, to more people around the world.”