Dave Willis – Co-founder of Clarius

No matter how good the idea is, it always takes longer to get to market and profitability than anticipated.

Dave Willis has over 40 years of experience as a healthcare tech executive and entrepreneur. He co-founded Clarius to develop a handheld, wireless, mobile-based ultrasound scanner that can be used in a variety of environments.

Where did the idea for Clarius come from?

Clarius is a response to the need for an affordable and easy to use ultrasound machine that can be used by more physicians at the bedside. My Co-Founder Laurent Pelissier and I both had deep experience in the ultrasound industry and recognized a problem with consistent access to ultrasound for doctors using ultrasound in point of care situations such as emergency medicine and Anesthesia. These departments typically have only one or two systems in the entire department, which often results in procedures being delayed or performed without ultrasound guidance because ultrasound is not available. The primary barrier has been access to funds to purchase ultrasound systems with good quality imaging. We believed that an ultra-portable system using off-the-shelf tablets and smart phones could dramatically reduce costs and could eventually equip each physician with their own system during their shift.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Either speaking with physicians by phone, during medical conferences or visiting them in their medical departments is a big part of my day.

How do you bring ideas to life?

We are fortunate to have a terrific group of engineers that are able to think outside the box. The Clarius engineering team is driven by finding innovative ways to use technology to solve problems and concerns that physicians face.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

Ultrasound is rapidly becoming the imaging tool of choice in developing countries. Many countries cannot afford expensive modalities such as CT and MRI. A high quality, easy to use, affordable ultrasound device can dramatically impact patient care in these areas.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Listening to customers/physicians. Solving their problems efficiently and affordably is the key to truly innovative solutions.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

Working in a mine as a college student. I learned the importance of education and it’s ability to open many doors in the workplace.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

There are always things you could change in retrospect. Fortunately I wouldn’t change anything major. I have no regrets about where I am today or the path I took to get here.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

A former colleague used to teach, “listen 80 percent of the time and talk 20 percent”. That makes sense and I am a big believer in that philosophy. I have to say I rarely see it in use.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

Clarius has a great combination of talented people. Many are from the ultrasound industry with a great amount of industry knowledge. There is also a mix of talented people from outside the industry providing fresh ideas.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

No matter how good the idea is, it always takes longer to get to market and profitability than anticipated. It is important to be realistic, not over commit, and anticipate setbacks.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Most healthcare systems are using electronic medical records for data filing. Although they all use the same coding language, none of these systems are compatible. I believe the first company that produces an EMR system that is universally compatible will do very well. It would also make things much easier for healthcare providers and patients.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

The first book by Clayton Christensen on disruptive technology. This really became the foundation for the way I look at product for any given market.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

We are big users of Slack. I believe that steady communication through all departments in a company internal and external are critical. This has become a great tool for all Clarius employees around the globe to communicate daily.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Seeing What’s Next by Clayton M Christensen. The book truly makes you think about technology going forward. The content can be applied by any technology company.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

Many of the early people at SonoSite ultrasound. Disruptive technology was applied in every product produced and set the early industry standard in point of care ultrasound. Clarius founder, Laurent Pelissier also has that drive and commitment, to create and innovate to solve global problems in target markets


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