Ethan Drower is the Co-Founder and Operating Partner of CiteMed, which is revolutionizing the European Union Medical Device Regulation (EU MDR) process. Literature Search and Review is the cornerstone of medical device companies’ Clinical Evaluation Report, and CiteMed has made this process more streamlined and optimized than ever. The CiteMed team was formed to deliver a high volume of beautifully written and formatted Literature Reviews on timelines that will enable companies to meet their EU MDR goals. CiteMed’s top goal is to help companies get their medical products to market as quickly as possible, all while maintaining state-of-the-art compliance with the European Commission regulations.
Where did the idea for CiteMed come from?
We saw a massive need rise with the implementation of the EU Medical Device Regulation in 2020 and 2021. Manufacturers were suddenly buried with work, especially when it came to Clinical Evaluation and Post Market Surveillance. Someone had to come in and innovate the space, because current best practices simply wouldn’t be enough to comply with the new regulation — we launched CiteMed to do just that.
CiteMed leverages a software platform that we built in-house to perfect the formatting of uniform and error-free submissions. Humans read and write, while CiteMed’s machines handle the arduous tasks of formatting and error handling. The result is consistency across all literature review submissions. ‘The CiteMed Edge’ has been our ability to bring together amazing technologists and industry-leading medical writers and regulatory consultants. It’s the collaboration between these groups that has allowed us to build tools unlike anything used in Regulatory Affairs and scientific literature review today.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I try to plan my weeks ahead of time so that each day has 2-3 ‘essential’ tasks scheduled. If I can get my important tasks done (and I try to do them first), then I consider the day productive.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I start with a vision, and then work backwards from there until I have a clear path of achievable steps. The key with this kind of breakdown is to go all the way until I have one small action I can take immediately.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The adoption and application of Machine Learning is an exciting one. Ultimately, it will completely change risk management in our industry.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I think the habit of breaking down big goals into manageable chunks is the most productive habit/skill an entrepreneur can cultivate.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would give my younger self advice that Felix Dennis gave to me: ‘Ignore great ideas, focus on great execution.’ Most tech entrepreneurs are not short on ideas, but they are short on time and focus. When I look back at all of my previous business ventures, it’s become clear to me that any one of them could have been wildly successful if I had just stayed the course and continued to execute on it. Far too often, we give up our current project for a more exciting, shinier item.
Another piece of advice I would give my younger self is also advice that another person once gave to me: ‘Learn to sell and learn to build’. These really are the quintessential skills for a startup founder, and while fundamental, they are surprisingly overlooked. I spent a lot of years of my youth laser-focused on building things, and then forgot to go out and try to sell them! The most useful ideas in the world will remain unknown, unless you learn how to sell them as well as you can build them.
Finally, I would say that in order to be successful, an entrepreneur must have empathy, resilience to rejection, and a love for building useful things.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I don’t have a lot of faith in the American economy over the next 15 years, and think that our markets (and currency) are in for a big reckoning.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
You have to confirm that there is a market for what you are selling. This sounds overly simple, but most people waste years building a product that no one wants. Find the simplest, cheapest version of what you want to sell, and then go try and sell it! The feedback you get from this initial process is invaluable as an entrepreneur.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Focusing on sales and finding the product market fit relentlessly. Many businesses get too caught up in building and tweaking things, without actually going to market and trying to get better at selling what they already have.
By taking a sales/market-first approach, you actually save time (and earn more) by refining your pitch on the fly with prospective customers.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
My biggest failures have always centered around taking on too much. Too many new ideas, new projects, new companies. Ultimately, I think I just matured as an entrepreneur and started to find the true value of time and focus. Your time is your most precious asset as an entrepreneur, and you need to constantly try and spend it on the biggest-impact tasks. This almost always means picking one massive idea, and staying the course without distractions.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
In the US, there will be a massive shift of economic opportunity once (if) recreational cannabis is legalized federally. I see a big opportunity for someone that can build a marketplace (for vendors to vendors, not just consumers buying products).
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Probably my monthly WeWork global subscription. I spend most of the year on the road, and it’s a huge productivity boost having access to good internet and quiet office space in most of the cities I visit.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Loom has become a favorite of our team, as we use it to record screen videos for almost everything. Reporting issues, creating documentation, asking questions, you name it.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
100 Million Dollar Offer by Alex Hormozi is a great one for entrepreneurs to read. Hormozi is a master salesman, and even if your business model isn’t a fit with what he does exactly, you can improve your product offering and salesmanship tenfold just by watching what he does.
What is your favorite quote?
My favorite quote is this:
‘People who never risk anything suffer the worst anxiety of all’
This quote had a powerful impact on me when first starting CiteMed. A new company in an old industry is a daunting task, especially when you have every intention of completely turning the current methods upside down. But the decision to press onward was made simple by realizing that I would feel worse if I never tried than if I would try and fail.
- To bring an idea to life, start with a vision and then work backwards from there until you have a clear path of achievable steps.
- The habit of breaking down big goals into manageable chunks is the most productive habit/skill an entrepreneur can cultivate.
- You have to confirm that there is a market for what you are selling.
- By taking a sales/market-first approach, you actually save time (and earn more) by refining your pitch on the fly with prospective customers.
- Your time is your most precious asset as an entrepreneur, and you need to constantly try and spend it on the biggest-impact tasks.
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.