Chen Barak, the CEO of Israeli startup Nanomedic Technologies, which developed a portable medical device that can dress burns and other wounds with nano-materials that mimic human tissue, is motivated to steam ahead by the fact that working at a medical device company, she can see the benefit to patients firsthand.
The 58-year-old mother of three, who has a PhD in electrical and biomedical engineering, said she had “grown up” in Israel’s high-tech industry, with 20 years in the field in managerial roles at startups in the medical device sector, with a focus on the cardiovascular market.
Being an entrepreneur is much easier now that she is older, as she doesn’t have to juggle family and work as much. Her advice to female entrepreneurs is not to give up on their dreams because, with a little support from their family, they can in fact have it all.
Nanomedic has developed a portable medical device that can dress burns and other wounds with nano materials, which mimic human tissue and peel off once the skin below is regenerated. The product, called SpinCare, can be operated by physicians and other medical staff working in hospitals or clinics or providing home care, the startup says.
The device has been used on more than 100 patients in clinical studies in Israel in such major medical centers as Sheba Medical Center, Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv and Rambam hospital in Haifa, as well as several in Europe. The startup plans to launch the product in the second half of this year.
To relax, Barak takes a pottery class, which, she says, is like going to therapy.
What do you find interesting in your work?
“Being in the technology sector is fascinating and has huge potential. There are lots of companies in wound care, but we are unique in our approach and our device is one of a kind. We have been working on the technology for some six years, making it into a portable device. The idea is to start deploying it to hospitals for burn patients and plastic surgeons.”
What is the reaction to your device?
“People are very excited, but there still is a long way to go. We need to continue to collect clinical data to substantiate our product. We have more than 100 patients in clinical trials that use our product with a good response.”
What does your day look like?
“By 8 a.m. I am generally in the office. I live close by in Shoham and work in Lod, so it’s not a long drive to work. Most days I am in meetings with investors, business development, inside and outside the office. I also visit our clinical sites and talk with physicians and present our technology at scientific conferences.”
What do you love or hate about your job?
“I don’t hate anything about my job. I enjoy every day. With every company I worked for, I have worked on a new challenge, a new story and with new people. Each time it is a new world, and it’s always exciting. The most exciting thing about medical devices is that you use your professionality and knowledge for good, for the benefit of the health of patients. When you see a patient that has benefited from a new development, it makes you feel good. This is what keeps you driven.
“On a professional side, you know what you are doing and you must try to make the fewest mistakes. Motivation comes from the essence of what you do.”
What are the main challenges ahead?
“That of bringing a new system into the market. You need the support of physicians, you need to expose yourself and make the system available and reach a global audience. A huge challenge is also fundraising. It is never easy, but you always find investors who want to take part in your journey.”
What have been your failures?
“I have seen one company closed. I was not the CEO then but I experienced the company closing its doors and also other difficult times at the other companies I have worked in, but we managed to overcome them. There are all sorts of challenges: that of taking a system to market and making sense for investors.”
Advice for new startup entrepreneurs?
“For younger women entrepreneurs I’d say don’t give up on your career. You can have it all. You can do both, family and career. It is not easy, but with the support of your family and enough motivation you can stick to it. I see more and more women in the space. I say, don’t compromise, go and do what you love to do. Challenge yourself.”
How easy was it to juggle family life and a career?
“When I was younger, running a family and working was more challenging. Now, I only have a 23-year old ‘baby’ at home. My husband and I are career people and we both took equal responsibility for family life. My husband was a CEO for startups in the tech field. Now he is looking for his next challenge.”
What are your hobbies?
“I go biking and to the gym, but not enough, just on weekends. I also do ceramics. For me it is like going to a therapist. I work with ceramics three hours a week. It is something you do when you are grown up. I deserve it. I work so hard. It gives me three hours of disconnecting from it all. It is a blessed three hours.”