Pierre Wijdenes, Co-founder & CEO at Neuraura

L to R: Dr. Colin Dalton, CTO; Claire Dixon, COO; Bonita Gunning, Quality Manager; Dr. Pierre Wijdenes, CEO

L to R: Dr. Colin Dalton, CTO; Claire Dixon, COO; Bonita Gunning, Quality Manager; Dr. Pierre Wijdenes, CEO

1. What does Neuraura do?

Neuraura is focused on improving the lives of people suffering from neurological conditions, such as epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease, using our proprietary micro-sensors to map their brains to develop better neuromodulation implants. Think of it as a pace-maker for the brain.

2. What inspired you to start? What problem are you solving?

After spending several years in an academic research environment, our team realized that we would need to move our technology out of the lab and into the real world to make an impact. Through our participation in Creative Destruction Lab Rockies, we connected with incredible mentors and serial entrepreneurs who continue to support us.

3. How long did it take you to go from idea to prototype to launch?

The company is rooted in technology which was originally developed at the University of Calgary and bringing Neuraura from initial concept to our current state has taken several years. Commercializing technology in the health tech space is a long process, so we focus on setting and achieving milestones that are key to our long-term success.

4. If you could hire someone today to help you with one thing what would it be and why?

Neuraura is actively seeking a Chief Medical Officer who has experience with bringing neuro-technologies to market.

Accomplishments

5. What are your future goals for your company?

Our current focus is de-risking our technology as much as possible and establishing our pathway to market. To do this, we need to meet with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), establish collaborations to test our product in a clinical environment and further refine our prototype. We are also looking at opportunities to establish a second base in the U.S. to further develop our financing and commercialization pathway.

Advice Corner

6. How has Startup Calgary helped your company evolve?

One of the greatest things about Startup Calgary is the sense of community they cultivate. It’s comforting to know we’re not alone in facing typical startup challenges. Meeting other passionate people who are willing to believe in crazy ideas serves as inspiration to persist in order to achieve our objectives.

7. What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to take their idea from the back of a napkin to the marketplace?

A few lessons we’ve learned on our journey so far:

  • Your company is about more than just the technology. Storytelling is key.

  • There is a lot of help out there, so go get it!

  • Be creative in the search for non-dilutive funding; both the provincial and federal governments offer strong incentive programs.

  • A sales pitch is critical. You need to be able to articulate your vision and how you’ll execute a plan to achieve it.

  • Hire slowly and try before you buy.

  • Build your brand by partnering with recognized global partners.

  • Seek diverse perspectives and then decide.

  • Connect with peers who have been through the experience and can offer solid perspective.

8. If you could have done one thing differently while building your startup, what would it be?

We would not have been afraid to seek out entrepreneurs who dare to see things differently. Their passionate energy serves as inspiration. It’s also important to be bold in your ambition as it helps you to seek out the right types of partners.

9. What was the biggest surprise or obstacle you encountered while building your startup and what did you learn?

The fact that technology is only 20 per cent of your business value. The other 80 per cent involves business development, product-market fit, having a solid team, sales and most importantly, execution! Coming from technical backgrounds, we didn’t recognize the importance of the other elements, but our mentors have been integral throughout our journey.

10. What event, program or resource in Calgary’s startup community made the biggest impact on your company?

Creative Destruction Lab Rockies had the most tremendous impact on the growth of our company. It exposed us to skilled, generous leaders who have built their own companies and can show us the way. It was a humbling experience that allowed us to grow both personally and professionally. 

Learn more at https://www.neuraura.com/


Published on May 1, 2019