The Silicon Review
“We have the right system for every practice and research facility, big or small.”
Since 1976, LKC Technologies, Inc. (LKC) established itself as the industry leader in the manufacture of visual electrophysiology products with the introduction of new systems and devices that aid in the diagnosis and treatment of ophthalmic disorders.
Visual Electrodiagnostic Testing has now evolved onto the RETeval(r) device, the first hand-held, battery powered, portable, non-invasive, fully ISCEV-compliant ERG device for use on dilated or non-dilated eyes. With over 40 years of experience, ERG and VEP testing is made easy with LKC’s products and world-class customer service.
A colloquy with Jim Datovech, President of LKC Technologies
Q. How did LKC have to change to bring innovation to market? And what was the value driver?
We first had to change the way we looked at the market. Manufacturers who served the visual electrophysiology market were optimized to serve the needs of the professional user typically in tertiary referral University eye centers. The systems were optimized to offer the largest range of capabilities to be able to do whatever the professional electrophysiologist wanted to do. This led to large machines, at a high cost, that was extremely capable but needed specific expertise to use and interpret the results.
LKC decided to focus on large unmet health needs that affected large numbers of patients where electrophysiology results could aid the physician in their diagnosis and care of patients and improve patient outcomes. Diabetic retinopathy, the leading cause of working age blindness was the first unmet health need that we focused on. Since there are over 400 million people with diabetes in the world this device had to be portable, non-invasive, and not require eye dilation. It also had to have an intuitive user interface, easy to use electrodes and have straight forward interpretation of results. We also needed the user interface to be multi-lingual so that it could be used around the world.
Q. Tell us about your latest product that was launched.
The LKC RETeval® device was developed with the support of a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from NIH. It required invention and innovation to develop the right form factor, ergonomics, user interface, and ease of use characteristics to be used in many locations around the world wherever a person met their care.
The device was first launched in Europe with the CE mark and in other countries that accept the CE registration. Once FDA clearance was achieved it was launched in Japan, Korea, Australia, and China. Over 1,300 devices have been produced and in use around the world by pediatric ophthalmology, general ophthalmology, and retinal specialists in private offices and eye centers. It is also used by medical Optometrists in their practices. The RETeval device is also used by veterinary ophthalmologists and in animal model eye research.
Over 100 posters and presentations have been made at eye conferences around the world and over 30 peer-reviewed publications have utilized the RETeval device. It is rapidly becoming the go-to technology for flash-based visual electrophysiology testing.
Q. Rivalry comes along with a good market position. In the current competitive world, how do you differentiate your products/services from the crowd?
LKC offers the only truly non-invasive visual electrophysiology system in the world that is FDA and CE cleared for use without dilation and with nothing touching the surface of the eye. LKC also offers the only full function hand-held, battery-powered full function flash based electrophysiology system in the world. We also have the only true multi-lingual interface in this space.
Q. What challenges did you face in your initial years?
LKC has a long and well-respected reputation in visual electrophysiology. Even with this reputation, it is important to prove and newly introduced technology. LKC supported KOL use of the technology so that posters, presentations, and peer-reviewed publications would occur to substantiate the utilization, performance, and efficacy of the device. This is a critical step in product introduction and acceptance.
Q. 'It is difficult to start a venture. But far more difficult to maintain it' -How would you and your team interpret this saying?
The key to initial success is bringing together the right team with the skills, expertise, creativity, and desire to paint a mental picture of the intended product and to be able to fill in the mental picture with reality.
It is an understanding that the initial product as introduced will generate a lot of user input on how to makeit easier to use, add capabilities, and identify bugs that need to be addressed. There is a need to keep focus and realize that if each suggestion does not serve the mission of the product it is detracting from the mission. Focus on those inputs that really matter to a broad range of customers and prospective customers in a prioritized manner.
Remember that the market’s real feedback on whether you are focused on the mission or the right mission is revenue growth. Revenue and margin are the fuel that funds growth and future progress and enhancements.
Q. What is the future roadmap of LKC?
I see the RETeval device as the platform for addressing several additional unmet health needs that may reach beyond eye diseases. For example, there will be multi-center RETeval based study results presented on the objective diagnosis of autism at the upcoming Autism research meeting in Montreal.
We are excited to announce that the official launch of the enhanced UTAS system will be at the upcoming ARVO meeting in Vancouver, Canada from April 28th to May 2nd.
Stop by our booth 1003 to see it live for the first time and to discover all the new features created just for you!
Greet the President
Jim Datovech, President: Jim is the President of LKC Technologies and responsible for the overall operation of the company. He has more than 40 years of experience in sales and executive management, having held multiple sales and management positions during 14-year tenure with IBM. Immediately prior to acquiring LKC, Jim was President of a venture-backed eBusiness consulting firm, which was successfully sold in 2000.
Jim holds a degree in Economics from the University of Pittsburgh and is a patent author. He is an ordained Permanent Deacon in the Catholic Church and is Chairman Emeritus of The Maryland School for the Blind where he served on the Board of Directors for 16 years. He also served on the Board of Directors of Interfaith Works, a provider of services and shelter to the homeless.