What makes a 30 something industrial engineer decide to want launch a health startup? That’s one of the first questions we asked José Manuel Baena, a young Spaniard with an enviable CV and background who decided to bet on 3D printing applied to the health sector. And he did it back in 2010 when few people imagined that 3D printing we be useful or even profitable. Now, Baena has already founded his second company and has helped other young people to follow their own paths; one this is full of lessons about entrepreneurship and what success means to a startup.
Entrepreneurs tend to be ahead of their time, as you already know. They have that great idea in mind that will revolutionize our future. But first, they have to convince the rest of society that their vision is not only good, but achievable, as José Manuel Baena explains, “in 2011 they thought I was crazy. At that time, no one understood 3D printing. Large companies told me it wouldn’t be used. Almost no one uses it.” The funny thing is that these opinions were not friends or colleagues who didn’t understand the world of entrepreneurship, but tech professionals, “in an entrepreneur contest a member of the jury told me that what we were doing couldn’t be regulated. 4 years later it was regulated and today no one denies that 3D printing in the health sector isn’t just the future, but the present.”
That’s how clear of an idea Baena had then and time proved him right. Of course, this entrepreneur wasn’t inspired out of the blue; instead it was an idea that had been taking shape over years of study at different universities around the world, like the Technische Universität Braunschweig in Germany or the Polytechnic Institute in Valencia. Also, thanks to his experience at the Biomechanical Institute in Valencia that’s where Baena was introduced to technology linked to the health field.
Printing today’s health
With the background of training and experience, José Manuel Baena and his partners founded BRECA Health Care, a company dedicated to printing 3D medical devices. One of the added values that they defend from this startup is that their products adapt to the patients’ needs and not vice versa.
But the real gem of BRECA Health Care, or rather Baena’s second startup Regemat, is hidden in the passion this entrepreneur has for the health field. “I always say that entrepreneurs need very strong motivation. In my case I was typecast in the subject of cars but I wanted to develop my life in the health sector. It was my professional dream. I would do the same even if I’d won the lottery and didn’t have to work,” Baena says.
Said and done. Baena and his team signed up for biotechnology business creation program with the Spanish Genome Foundation, where they were taught how to carry out a business plan and give a more professional focus to their ideas. Later, they would win a prize of 20,000 euros in a startup contest and with that, plus some of their savings and loans, they got down to work.
And that is precisely one of the complications of starting up in the health sector, as Baena mentions: a large amount of money is needed to implement any project. “When I built the company I knew that I didn’t have to be great to start, instead that I needed to start to be great. For me it’s a long term project. I had the idea in 2010; the project started in 2011 and now is when we’re starting to see it be viable.”
Entrepreneurship is long term
Entrepreneurship is a long distance race, and that’s how José Manuel Baena explains it in his book ‘Emprender en carrera. Racing entrepreneurs’ in which he explains the complications and challenges that entrepreneurs will encounter when they decide to launch an ICT business. And they will always make mistakes, “we made millions,” admits Baena. Many of these mistakes were careless and due to being in a rush and having little time to make decisions. Others were due to their inexperience, but for Baena, “the problem is not having weaknesses, it’s having them and not realizing it.”
One of those weaknesses can be with the team’s training, something crucial and something in which Baena insists, “I would recommend people to build a solid team. When there are too many people there end up being arguments. At first our 4 founders never agreed, that’s when we made mistakes.”
Starting up to have success, but what success?
One of the most interesting debates that entrepreneurs at FACE Entrepreneurship have brought up in our most recent interviews has to do with the concept of success. Here, José Manuel Baena has something to add, “What is success? Is it earning more than 1 million euros? In that case we’re not a successful company. Is it having happy clients and being profitable? In that case then yes, we’re successful. Success means resolving other people’s problems, improving their quality of life, earning income that ensure the sustainability of the project, hire people who are happy with their work and who make enough to live an acceptable life, generate wealth around you locally and globally and contribute to advancements in society.” Undoubtedly, this is a reflection on success that should be thought about by those who decide to launch a business.