Tim Murawski is the President and CCO of Augmedics, Inc., a pioneer in a medical device that brings groundbreaking augmented reality technology to spine surgery. He has been in this role since June of 2019 when US commercialization began.
Tim Murawski started his career in the purchasing department of the R&D facility for a large chemical company. He soon realized that he’d rather be on the other side of the desk and looked to move into a sales career.
Tim Murawski saw the medical device field as the best arena to establish his sales career for it is constantly changing and, thereby, provides continuous challenges and opportunities. He has spent the past 30 years developing, managing, and leading various companies in the medical and healthcare industry.
Tim Murawski began his medical devices sales career at Baxter Healthcare’s IV Systems division selling their innovative InterLink Needless IV products. It was the early 1990’s and HIV/AIDS was a significant threat to healthcare workers through accidental needle sticks. He found that bringing new, industry-changing, life & safety-enhancing technology to the medical field was where he wanted to be.
From there he went to his first start-up company, General Surgical Innovations. In that fast-paced, constantly changing environment Tim Murawski found that his ability to see the big picture and his willingness to do whatever needed to be done was highly valued and put to good use.
He has made a huge impact in the field of surgical robotics, first at Intuitive Surgical as Director of Sales where he introduced and developed the robotic surgery market. His experience in introducing disruptive technology in the robotic surgery market proved quite valuable as Vice President of Global Business at Mazor Robotics. Tim Murawski was instrumental in building the company and then helping in the transition to Medtronic after its $1.6 billion acquisition.
The opportunity to be involved in leading-edge technology, which aims is to create greater ease in surgery and provide better outcomes for patients and their families have been very rewarding for Tim Murawski. Equally rewarding has been the opportunities he’s had to mentor others. He believes his role as a leader is to inspire people to do more than they believe they can do and to prepare them for their next position.
Tim Murawski comes from humble beginnings as the fourth child out of five. He was born June 26, 1961, and was raised in the Chicago area. Both of his parents worked outside of the home so he learned at an early age the benefits of a strong work ethic. Tim Murawski has carried this throughout his career and believes that this has been instrumental to his success.
In his free time, Tim Murawski likes to waterski, play tennis, work in his yard and spend time with his dog and wife of 35 years.
Where did the idea for Augmedics come from?
Nissan Elimelech is the Founder of the company. He is a biomechanical engineer that worked as a spine representative and saw that surgeons struggled with traditional navigation and robotic technology. He stated he was frustrated with seeing the amount of money that would be spent on technology that would then not be used. Some of the problems that he identified were that the technology was complicated and had long learning curves in addition to being very expensive. Our technology is responsibly priced and is very easy to use for the surgeon and hospital staff. The surgeons do not have to change their workflow in order to get critical information that is important to having successful clinical outcomes. Our system also provides the surgeon with an augmented reality view of the spine as if they had x-ray vision. Some surgeons that have adopted the technology have also significantly reduced the radiation exposure because they don’t feel the need to rely on large amounts of fluoroscopy through the use of our system.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I begin most days with physical exercise, either cycling or weightlifting. My “workdays” start as early as 7 am, sometimes earlier. My day can consist of any and all of the following:
• Phone and zoom calls with the sales leadership team discussing opportunities and challenges.
• Brainstorming sessions that involve sales strategy but can also lead to product refinement and development ideas.
• Meetings with the VP of Products to understand the product roadmap, changes, and timelines.
• Calls and meetings with the Sr. Operations Manager to discuss upgrades and product reliability and inventory levels.
• MarCom Director to review progress with marketing projects, market development programs, and trade show plans.
• Medical Education Director to discuss employee development initiatives, surgeon and staff training to ensure the highest level of support is being provided in the field.
• Finance Manager to review and approve invoices, tax documents, distributor payouts, and direct employee payroll.
• I also speak to Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) regularly to hear what they like about our product and what can be improved.
• I review our sales metrics many times throughout the day and inquire what we can do to improve our performance.
I do my best to be home in time to have dinner with my wife and spend the rest of my evening relaxing with her and my dog (and fielding the occasional work phone call).
How do you bring ideas to life?
I meet with members of my team and present my vision. We discuss it as a group and brainstorm for additional ideas. We whiteboard the idea and identify the different components and assign responsibilities to the team members. Depending upon the level of urgency we create a target date and develop a timeline of action items to complete the project/program. We may pilot the idea to work the issues out before we roll it out to the entire organization. While that is taking place, we might begin to float the idea to others outside of the pilot for them to digest the idea or new direction.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Artificial Intelligence. AI can be used in many industries to speed up the evolution of technology development. I foresee that AI will impact everyone’s life directly and indirectly. People need to be curious about AI instead of being fearful. Ask yourself how AI could improve the quality of your life and how can it positively affect those around you.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I make sure that I am accessible to everyone in the organization. Anyone can call me or stop by my office any day or any time. They also know that if I do not answer their call, I will return it as soon as I’m finished in a meeting or with the previous call. I might even answer the call and ask them if it is urgent or can I call them back shortly. This keeps me focused on completing what I am working on, but it also keeps the action fresh. It also helps me to stay connected with everyone. I always say to the team, “let me know how I can help.” During the conversation, I might recommend that they speak to someone else to get their perspective.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Do not try to do everything on your own. Ask for help and offer to help. Too often we feel as though we must prove our value instead of having our value shine through naturally by doing great work. Be humble in your success and always be prepared to share the glory with the others that were involved.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Do not be satisfied with your early success, it might be an anomaly. Challenge yourself to make it better, stronger, faster. Remember that new technology is born ugly. You might think it is beautiful, but others will think it is ugly in some form or fashion. Do not let your feelings be hurt or the truth about ugliness prevent you from improving it. Acknowledge the reality that it’s ugly, but do not wait until it is pretty, or you will miss the market. Remember that early mobile phones needed a car, then came bag phones and big bricks with a large antenna.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Extreme product competence. When your team has extreme product competence, they gain confidence and pride in your mission. The competence is realized by your target customers. Even if they don’t buy your product, they will speak highly of the people they encountered and your product because your people are the product. This also helps to set proper expectations with the customer and discuss the product evolution and timeline.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
The closest thing to a “failure” that I can think of is signing on with a medical device start-up whose product wasn’t really ready to go to market. I didn’t realize this until I was already on the job. I brought my concerns to the company and was not satisfied with their response. In order to maintain my integrity, I chose to leave the company. This situation helped me hone my interview skills when looking at new opportunities and technologies. I learned a lot from this situation so I really do not think of it as a failure.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
It is all about the people. The people on your team will make the difference in your being a good or great company. No matter how good your product is you can’t have great success without a great team of people. My philosophy is to prepare people for their next opportunity whether it’s in your organization or outside your organization. If you do what’s best for the people, you are doing what’s best for the organization. Yes, you will lose some people, but you will retain and attract more people when they know you have their best interest at heart. Those same people that left your organization will tell others that your organization is a great place to work because they will be challenged to learn and grow both professionally and personally.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
An external microphone and speaker for conducting video conference calls. Over the last year and a half, I have had video conference calls every day, sometimes 3-4 a day, with people from around the world. Unfortunately, integrated cameras, microphones, and speakers are lacking primarily in audio quality. Purchasing an external speaker and microphone brings the sound quality to a level as if they were sitting next to you. It also significantly reduces the need to ask someone to repeat themselves.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Microsoft Power of BI. This software allows us to look at the analytics from the start of our commercial operations. We can look at the data by accounts, customers within the accounts, revenue, and utilization. This also helps to establish other key metrics to look at to ensure that we’re building a healthy and sustainable business.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Crossing the Chasm” by Geoffrey Moore. I read this at my first start-up company and it had a profound impact on me. Anyone that is introducing disruptive technology to a market needs to understand how important the teachings in this book are. For anyone that has been part of a successful startup, they will relate to many aspects of this book. This book is a road map of how to build your business and to understand if you are working with the innovators or early majority.
What is your favorite quote?
“Hope is NOT a Strategy” by Steve Liable. Too often people in sales say “I hope …. is going to happen”. It can be an initial sale, re-order, or project. Hope has nothing to do with it, you have everything to do with it. When people say they “hope” something will happen it is because they have failed to identify all the why’s and why nots that will cause something to happen or not. If you dig deep and leave no stone unturned, you will identify the strategy needed to close the big sale, receive the re-order, or the tasks required to complete the project. Sometimes people lack the initiative to identify what is needed or they might be overwhelmed. The best thing to do when someone tells you they hope something will happen is to spend some time with them to help them develop a real strategy. “Hope as a strategy” should be a red flag to everyone and most importantly to the person that says it.
• Remain open-minded and be curious about what could be.
• Respect for others is critical; their idea(s) could be the next big thing.
• You can accomplish more with a great team of people than a single genius.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.