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TNInvestcos-funded 'S2 Interactive' debuts at Musculoskeletal venture forum
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CEO Larry Foster

Larry Foster's S2 Interactive startup may stand-out in many ways during the Musculoskeletal New Ventures Conference, Oct. 18th in Memphis. Foster is S2's founder, president, CEO.

Not only is Foster's venture one of the state's few native startups in the sector; but, S2 also recently gained a total $750,000 from Memphis-based TNInvestco's MB Venture Partners and Innova Fund, the parties confirmed today for VNC.

Some S2 differentiators are more obvious than others: For example, investors attending MNVC will quickly realize that Foster's tablet-based technology for use in the operating room is not meant to be inserted into a patient.  S2 is also the only product being presented at MNVC by a former surgical RN (Foster), who developed the entire idea.

Also, Foster's Germantown-based S2 is one of only two Tennessee companies among the 22 presenting that day. (The second Tennessee firm is Active Implants, which has a meniscus implant developed through R&D in Israel and trials in Europe, according to its website.) The 9th annual MNVC event is presented by MB Venture Partners and Memphis BioWorks Foundation.

S2's presentation at MNVC could prove an important stepping-stone toward the A-round raise Foster is likely to undertake within 12 to 18 months, he told VNC. A target-amount for that raise has not yet been determined. Roughly $100K in founder's capital has been invested thus far, he said.

S2 refers to its offerings as representing a "surgical instrument selection system"; the iPad-displayed software requires no Internet connection to display a bright visual roadmap of components and sequences for handling items a surgeon needs in precise order. The software does not address surgical techniques, Foster emphasized.

S2's Virtual BackTable is packaged for introduction into the sterile O.R. environment; it is designed to be affixed to a convenient I.V. post or other round pole in the O.R. The S2 device is positioned where O.R. staff can easily see both it and the equipment cart that typically bears "7 or 8" trays that carry up to 200 components or tools that must be deftly provided to the surgeon in the right sequence, moment-by-moment throughout complex surgeries.

S2's RepAssist, sold to medical-device makers, plays a similar role in helping to train sales representatives and in introducing products to surgeons and hospital executives, Foster said. Foster, a former medical-devices executive himself, will handle selling to that sector, he explained. Others yet to be hired will handle most of the hospital sales, he told VNC. A "handful" of pre-sales discussions are underway with medical-device companies and field-sales tests are underway with two allies, one in the trauma field and one in the spine segment.

The ortho-spine market will remain S2's sole target well into 2012; however, likely future customers may include those who undertake cardiac, invasive radiological or other complex procedures, he noted. Foster acknowledged there are probably less obvious business opportunities over the horizon, such as partnering with consultants in O.R. safety.

Foster's advisors include MB Venture Partners co-founder Gary Stevenson and Innova President Ken Woody. John Ogle, the Memphis-based former Luminetx/Christie Medical CFO who now maintains a consulting practice, serves as S2's CFO. (Ogle is also CFO for TNInvestco-backed startup iScreen Vision.)

Outside advisors supporting Foster's venture include Memphis-based Christine Scifert, principal in Memphis Regulatory Consulting; Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson (Chapel Hill, NC) for corporate law; and, Minnesota-based Dicke, Billig & Czaja for patent work (a provisional patent has been filed and a utility patent application is contemplated). S2's new website will be up by the time the MNVC convenes; its development is in the hands of The Robinette Group, marketers based in Memphis. S2 banks with FirstTennessee, said Foster.

Foster stresses that S2's business plan was crafted with awareness that, notwithstanding the current Recession-induced slump, the demographics of the aging U.S. population are driving increased volume of orthopedic procedures. The projected surge of operations could prove hard on medical professionals: O.R. staff are often called upon to shift hour-to-hour among several types of surgeries (from ortho to cardiac, for example), and are challenged to master many different routines. S2 products contribute to staff proficiency, Foster said.

Foster began work on the S2 concept in 2006 and registered the company in January this year. Until the recent debut of iPad and other tablets, he had been thwarted in efforts to find a computing device that could fit comfortably amid the congestion of the O.R., he explained.

Foster, age 53, moved to the Memphis area in 2000 while he was a regional vice president for Biomet. He earned his bachelor's degree in life sciences at Indiana State University in 1982, he said. He previously held executive and sales positions with TranS1, Smith & Nephew, Zimmer, Target Therapeutics and Becton Dickinson, he said.

He was preivously executive director of the nonprofit InMotion Orthopedic Research Center. VNC 


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Tags: Gary Stevenson, healthcare, Innova Fund, investment, iPad, Ken Wood, Larry Foster, Memphis, Memphis BioWorks Foundation, Musculoskeletal New Venture Conference, patents, physicians, S2 Interactive, tablets, TNInvestco, venture capital

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