Jared Greer, a master’s student studying biomedical engineering, is currently launching Lapovations, a startup company designed to create novel technologies that contribute to safe and reliable laparoscopic surgeries. Greer himself acts as CEO of the company, and works with several other partners: Chief Financial Officer Michael Dunavant, Chief Operating Office Ben McGuire, and Chief Marketing Officer Flavia Araujo, as well as a surgeon, a life sciences executive, and a venture capital general partner who advises the team. Said Greer, “We are looking at a number of potential improvement areas, but our initial focus is on exploring opportunities for improvement in the lifting of the abdominal wall using the closed insertion technique. Our initial target product is a patent pending device developed in part through my graduate research.”
For Greer, who received his bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from the U of A in 2002 and his MBA from the Walton College of Business in 2009, Lapovations is a chance to combine his current research as a graduate student with his experience as medical sales rep. “Our surgeon partner has completed over 4,000 laparoscopic procedures and has identified a number of areas in need of improvement,” he explained. “The BMEG department has allowed me to focus my research on developing products to address these needs. I have also been involved in medical sales for about 15 years in Northwest Arkansas which has provided me with a pretty good understanding of the complexities of developing and marketing products for healthcare related uses and how important it is to understand and address the needs of the various stakeholders involved.”
To help launch the company, Greer has also enrolled in the New Venture Development class taught by Dr. Carol Reeves, known to many as “The Coach” because of her success in helping so many student startups procure funding through business plan competitions. Since 2009, business teams mentored by Reeves have won over $2M in prize money and over 20 national business plan competitions, double that of any other university. Greer and his business partners have also been accepted into the Delta I-Fund program, which is an early stage, proof-of-concept fund formed to capitalize and train entrepreneurs in the eight-state Delta Regional Authority territory. Each startup team accepted into the program will receive access to up to $50,000 in investment funding and complete 12 weeks of rigorous training.
In working to launch Lapovations, Greer explained that his past business experience has also come in handy. During his time in the MBA program, he cofounded a company called Tears for Life, which landed his team $100K in cash prize money at national business plan competitions. In 2010, he and his wife Sarah also had the chance to run a frozen yogurt store after entering and winning a national competition called “The Great TCBY Store Giveaway.” Explained Greer, “Tears for Life was my first experience with the new venture development program and Dr. Reeves. That experience provided me with the baseline capabilities needed in the startup world. My experience with NWA TCBY furthered those capabilities by allowing me to run a very successful small business that provided jobs to up to 25 intelligent and outgoing young men and women at any given time. This combination of startup experience and small business experience have uniquely positioned us for success with Lapovations.”
In addition to his responsibilities as a graduate student and CEO of Lapovations, Greer has a full time medical sales job, runs a small residential real estate company focused on student housing, and has two young children at home. How does Greer balance his commitments? He notes that, “Keeping the many plates spinning at once is always a challenge.” He credits his wife Sarah (also a University of Arkansas graduate) with helping him to manage everything, along with his carefully crafted schedule—Greer wakes at 4:30 AM every day of the week in order to maximize productivity. Greer explained, “I am constantly multitasking and looking for ways to more efficiently use my time. My family is the most important thing to me. I help coach my son’s soccer and football teams and try to never miss one of his or my daughter’s many events. This gives me tremendous motivation to begin early and use my time wisely during the day in order to be able to focus on them.”
For University of Arkansas students interested in launching startups of their own, Greer suggests taking a course with Dr. Reeves. “There is no better person,” he says, “and no better place than the Walton College of Business to help aspiring entrepreneurs get started.” He’s also been grateful for the opportunities his position as a graduate student has afforded him—his master’s degree in biomedical engineering, he explained, “allow[s] me to combine my business experience with a technical science background and position myself well to be part of the exciting changes that are happening.”