The Medical Alley Podcast, presented by MentorMate

A Conversation with Ken Londoner, Founder and CEO, BioSig Technologies

Episode Summary

Join us for a conversation with Frank Jaskulke and Ken Londoner, the Founder and CEO of BioSig Technologies. Ken is a medical device veteran, but previously had a career as an investor on Wall Street. He shares more about his journey to founding BioSig Technologies, discusses the work BioSig does in signal processing, and much more.

Episode Transcription

Speaker 1 (00:00):
The Medical Alley Podcast is brought to you by MentorMate. For over 20 years, the healthcare industry's largest companies have trusted MentorMate to guide their vision while designing and developing innovative digital products. Whether you're powering a medical device, overhauling your backend architecture, or reimagining your patient experience, MentorMate can help. The global team takes a personalized and in-depth approach to deliver secure solutions in all sectors of healthcare. With deep expertise in design, development, cloud, and software support, MentorMate helps healthcare clients administer state-of-the-art care through technology. Trusted guidance, global expertise, secure integration. MentorMate delivers digital transformation at scale. Learn more at mentormate.com.

Frank Jaskulke (00:46):
Good morning. Good afternoon. Good evening to everyone out there in Medical Alley. Thank you for joining us. On another episode of the Medical Alley podcast, we have a great guest today from one of the most innovative companies that's in Medical Alley. We're joined by the CEO of BioSig, Ken Londoner. And he's gonna tell us a little bit about what they're up to and where they're going. Ken, thank you so much for being on today. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself before we get started?

Ken Londoner (01:16):
Thank you, Frank. And it's great to be a new member of Medical Alley. We're excited to be here. Myself, I am a medical technology, medical device veteran, but I came into the industry via a different avenue. I was a Wall Street investor working for a very large New York City-based mutual fund company. I made my first medical technology investment in 1989 and it's amazing to see how fast time moves, but back in 1989, today's market leaders were much smaller organizations and the great hallmark of our industry is innovation and growth. And, you know, I've gotten to watch the growth of our industry over the last 30, 32, 33 years. And it's now great to be in a small company trying to do the same thing as some of those companies back then.

Frank Jaskulke (02:06):
Yeah, right on. Maybe before we jump into BioSig, that's a really cool background to then come into med tech. What prompted you to make the change from the investment in the finance world to go into medical device?

Ken Londoner (02:21):
Yeah. Good question. I guess if you look at it this way, if you're a spectator watching a football game and you're in the stands, you know, it's fun and enjoyable and pleasant, exciting, but it's different to be on the field. Believe it or not after 9/11, sort of like a disruptive moment in my career because I was in New York City and obviously that was a horrific day for our country and most particular New Yorkers. It made me take an assessment of like, what, what do I wanna do? I could continue to stay in the investment business and be a spectator, or I could try to figure out a way to form a company. And the reason for medtech is it's just an industry of passion for me. It's a beautiful synthesis between technology and innovation and healthcare and helping people.

Ken Londoner (03:12):
So it was always appealing to me from an investor perspective. We always did very well medical technology and it continues to this day. Investors do well in our industry. So in 2008, I was doing some clinical work at Harvard Medical School with the late Dr. Mark Josephson on a private company. And he introduced me to the technology and the technologists that had created our platform. And he encouraged me, knowing that I had a background with investing and being an entrepreneur in medicine, to consider coming down this path. And after about a year's worth of diligence, I concluded that, you know, electrophysiology, AFib, and the technical and clinical opportunities were enticing. So we started the company in February of 2009, and it's amazing how fast 13 years go. But here we are as a little baby NASDAQ company.

Frank Jaskulke (04:11):
Right on, yeah. 13 years seems like a long time, but it's a blink of an eye. I love that background, how you describe the passion. It's a good business where you can do good things and make a good return. It's just such a great combo. And you having that finance, that investment background, you know, I see this all the time where there are companies that they don't know that part of the world and end up struggling. You're bringing that into it. So I appreciate that. Maybe for the people who don't know BioSig, you hinted at a little bit with the electrophysiology and AFib. What is bios doing or what's it up to?

Ken Londoner (04:49):
So the core of what we are, we are a technology company that we excel in signal processing. Our engineers are PhDs with a long history of signal processing expertise coming from a variety of industries like digital telephone switching, computer science networking and medical device. So we are able to take noise and interference out of biomedical signals — I believe in a fashion that is probably better than anybody in the world. So if you think about that in general, any company that's being able to bring fidelity or improvement to sound or visual or signal historically has done quite well. I think of companies like Dolby and Bose, who've been able to bring quality to these big arenas. We believe we are in a similar fashion where we are able to take noise out of signal, and the way we do it is totally unique and novel.

Ken Londoner (05:53):
We have received 49 patents to date, which are relatively new patents with another 29 in front of the USPTO, where we feel we'll have great protection in both our original area of focus, which is electrophysiology, improving the intracardiac signals that the ablation therapists use to determine how to improve and correct atrial fibrillation problems. And so we've engineered a product called the PURE EP system, which is a signal processing information system that is installed in the operating theater or the operating rooms where cardiac ablation procedures are done.

Frank Jaskulke (06:36):
Oh, very interesting. I love the comparison to a Dolby or a Bose and the high technology, but also the image it conveys. There's a unique thing, or at least I think unique thing about the way your guys' company is structured. A lot of the startups that I work with, they're privately held, privately backed. You guys publicly traded you, you said earlier baby NASDAQ, which I appreciate that that nice statement of it. But why be a publicly traded company at this stage of your development? And as I understand it, you guys have been publicly traded for a fair bit now.

Ken Londoner (07:14):
We went public in the fourth quarter of 2018. So we've been on the NASDAQ for three and a half years. We were private before that. In fact, for many years, we didn't even have a website. We were in stealth development mode. And. One of the fundamental sort of accelerants for us is in 2014, we showed up in Rochester, Minnesota with our prototype I think was December of 2014. The medical literature showed that some of the leaders at Mayo Clinic had a real appreciation for signal processing in electrophysiology. So we wanted Mayo Clinic to independently verify our technology. And about three years later, we signed the first 10-year partnership with the Mayo Clinic and Mayo Ventures to basically work with them collaboratively, to innovate more software, more applications for our hardware platform. And we've been there ever since.

Ken Londoner (08:14):
And Mayo happens to be a customer of the company as well, which was an exciting commercial moment for us. But you know, where we stand right now is we are just transitioning from limited market release to commercial rollout and being public affords us access to capital to be able to grow the company in hopefully an efficient and effective fashion. We have no venture capital investment in the company. The company was basically funded by individuals like myself and others like myself, who had a longer term vision of this technology platform. So we view ourselves as independent, and by being public we believe that'll be able to sustain our independence where we're not really controlled by a venture group or a private equity firm or a corporation. We're dedicated to the long term pursuit of applying our signal processing capabilities into as many fields of medicine that give clinical benefit.

Frank Jaskulke (09:12):
I love hearing that, that long term commitment, with the the 13 years already a 10 year partnership with Mayo Clinic, you guys are thinking long term. And that, as I understand it, you just mentioned going from limited market release to a broader release. I think I had seen just the other day a press release out. So folks, we're recording this on March 18th, that you just brought on a, a new executive new COO I believe, is that right?

Ken Londoner (09:42):
Yes. we're very excited. John Sieckhaus joined us about a week ago. John is a veteran of our industry, spent 31 years in this great industry. He was a senior executive at St. Jude Medical and then Abbot. He was the head of national sales for St. Jude. He had many other roles. Believe he was reporting into the C-suite and just a wonderful leader and such a vast network of relationships, both commercial, clinical, and you know, knows so many great people in this industry. So he's taking over the operations of the company and he'll also have an impact on our commercial strategy, as well as our commercial execution. And he and Gray Fleming, who we hired about four months ago. Gray also comes from Abbot St. Jude. Gray was reporting into John as one of the lead vice presidents of cardiac sales at St. Jude. And he is a unique commercial executive. I've learned so much about how this system works and how it's in a more focused fashion. So we're now building out a commercial team to take the product nationally.

Frank Jaskulke (10:54):
Oh, that's fantastic. And it's so great to see companies that have made that long term investment to develop great technology that are now bringing it out. And I also love seeing when the leadership and the talent that is developed in some of these established organizations, St. Jude being one of the greats, now are contributing to the next generation, not only of tech and development and patient care, but that also means new people getting trained and developed, new sales reps being recruited that then continues to build the industry. And something I've noticed, and Ken, you and I have talked about this before on other calls, you guys have a relatively distributed team, and even before the pandemic and all the talk of remote work work from home or things like that, you guys seem to have gone where the talent is, as opposed to everyone's gotta come to you. Was there a reason for that? And what's it been like managing and leading a distributed team?

Ken Londoner (11:57):
It's a great question. It's quite a struggle. I'm sure other leaders face the same challenges. I'm an old school guy. I come from the place where I would love everybody to be under one roof, where there could be onsite brainstorming, ideation collaboration, and team meetings. And, you know, it drives accountability, performance, scheduling, et cetera. But Zoom changed the world, the pandemi, changed the world. And, you know, listen, all these big corporations have teams in every state and they're all moving around it a bit. And with software and mobile and technology, you can manage an enterprise pretty well from your smartphone. But you know, I would say if I were to summarize, we're probably 60% office based and 40% on Zoom in terms of how we manage the workforce. We have three offices across the United States. We're in Westport, Connecticut, which is our headquarters. We have a fairly decent sized office in Santa Monica, California. And then we have a small clinical office at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and we move around the country via that footprint. And, you know, we're still small. I mean, we're mid fifties in terms of our employee base, but, you know, hoping the pandemic doesn't rear its head again, we have ambitions to grow this company considerably over the next five to 10 years.

Frank Jaskulke (13:28):
Yeah, indeed. Bully to that. The last thing I wanted to ask you about was something a little bit different, although you alluded to it a little bit with the signal processing comments. So you guys are also involved in bio electronic medicine, and I'm wondering, could you first tell us a little bit, what is bio electronic medicine, and then how does BioSig play into that? Or what's the work you're doing there?

Ken Londoner (13:55):
Thank you for the question. You know, I was lucky being in the mutual fund business. So I got to see all the tiny little companies that were doing different, innovative things that came together in sort of an orchestra of technology that created the internet. And obviously all the benefits that have come from the internet is beyond amazing. With the body, you know, we're so used to treating the onset of disease with either surgical therapy or drugs, but our body's bioelectric system from the brain to all the organs, through the central and peripheral nervous system control messages that allow our body to function. And the electronics, the computing has advanced so much now where with our signal processing expertise, we're getting to the point where we are able to see your electronic signatures, the action potentials, the neurons and, and the measurement of those in terms of having a faithful, reliable marker.

Ken Londoner (15:00):
So when you have the early onset of disease, take Parkinson's or epilepsy or atrial fibrillation. We are building technology that will hopefully be able to read all of that and provide the research community and the therapeutic development community information that they don't currently have today. That information is bioelectronic information and complementary to your DNA and your vital signs and, and all the artificial intelligence capabilities of these super of computing platforms. We think the bioelectronic information could potentially unlock answers in places that don't have answers today, or this information can compliment and improve existing therapies. For example, if you look at diabetes and what DexCom and other companies do in a fixed closed loop system, where you are reading body signals and you're delivering therapy without the patient having to do something, to me, that's the future of medicine.

Ken Londoner (16:04):
And you see new companies using bioelectric therapies, like for example, Inspire Medical Systems with sleep apnea, or Exonics with sacral nerve stimulation or Nevro with spinal nerve stimulation. BioSig is building technology that can give companies like that information that might be able to help them better deliver personalized levels of stimulation. So they get better therapeutic outcomes or provide information as a feedback loop so they can understand how to better adjust to certain patients or certain areas of the condition. And I think not just us, but there'll be other companies in this space where bioelectronic medicine, I'm hoping 30 years from now would be similar to where biotechnology was 30 years ago.

Frank Jaskulke (16:54):
Right on, yeah, the there's such a thing in device where we, we know something works, but we don't always have mechanism of action, why it works like we so focus on in the biotech, in the pharmaceutical world. What I hear you describing is being able to gain understanding of what's happening and how to tune for it, or how to study it or better deliver therapy, pair that up with some of the amazing therapeutic technologies being developed. That again, me commenting now, that long term view that you guys are taking, that makes a ton of sense, given that core expertise in signal processing. That that's just cool.

Ken Londoner (17:38):
Well I would come at it one other way, Frank. We all have friends or family or extended relationships where we hear tragic stories like I think of ALS patients. And it's always so disheartening to hear what happens to these folks. And you say, wow, we can do so many things in society that are so advanced, you know, like sending rockets and having them return to earth perpendicular without throwing away any of the parts. SpaceX, incredible stuff. Why can we not figure out how to help people with ALS? Why can we not make a dent in Alzheimer's or dementia? Why is deep brain stimulation still such a tiny market? Why are people with hypertension that are resistant to drugs, not being able to get better therapies? I mean, there's just so many conditions, not to mention all the things I could say about cancer. So, you know, you think about the younger generation, all these geniuses graduating, who are completely computer literate, have been programming — some of them from the age of five. With all this new computing power and some of this innovation around things like signal processing, I really see a bright future where there will be more technology coming in and hopefully providing answers in some of these intractable disease states,

Frank Jaskulke (19:01):
Ken, that is a, I think that's a great spot to wrap it up and to leave on that, that thoughtful and insightful and forward looking note. So I just wanna say, thank thank you for taking a little bit of time today to share the BioSig story with our listeners.

Ken Londoner (19:16):
Thank you guys very much. I really appreciate it.

Frank Jaskulke (19:19):
Yeah. Thank you. And folks, that's the Medical Alley podcast. If you're not a subscriber, make sure to check out medicalalleypodcast.org, or you can get us on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcast fix. See you next time.