25 Dos and Don’ts for Creating Value in an Orthopedic Startup


Guest article by Marty Wynkoop

My nearly 20 years in startups have taught me several valuable lessons. Valuable, because those lessons have cost me time or money, and usually both. My failed start ups outnumber my successful ones, by a long margin. But as I like to say, I still get in the batter’s box and swing for the fence. I have learned that the people you have on your team is much more important than the idea. Theodore Roosevelt says it best: “The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” If you can practice this, then you have a better than average chance to succeed. I have seen more GREAT ideas go bad because of the greed or ego of the principals gets in the way. Greed: “I will NOT share MY company with _______.” Ego: “I know it all and my idea is great, so don’t try to improve it.” These are just a few of the killers of great start ups. Below are 26 of my Dos & Don’ts that I have lived and can tell you first hand.  Get to know them and hopefully the lesson you learn will be valuable.

Dos & Don’ts for Creating Value in a Start Up

  1. Do something you know & like
  2. Don’t think you know it all
  3. Do ask for help from those who know more than you (everybody!)
  4. Don’t turn away money
  5. Do be picky who you TAKE money from
  6. Do be prepared to spend more on lawyers than you thought
  7. Do protect your IP
  8. Do protect your customers
  9. Don’t think acquirers buy YOU
  10. Do know your exit strategy from day 1
  11. Don’t be in love with your idea or company, both you & your company can be replaced
  12. Do understand that IPO’s rarely are successful for startups
  13. Don’t think you can do it alone
  14. Do get experienced start-up help, especially for the executive level
  15. Don’t hire your significant other, even if you think they are the best person for the job
  16. Do understand that the most likely exit will be a failure
  17. Don’t let that stop you – it gives you the experience to succeed on your next attempt
  18. Do understand your most likely positive exit will be via acquisition, so develop your company on that premise
  19. Don’t spend too much on capital items that an acquirer will not need, i.e. a building, manufacturing equipment – Buyers don’t buy capital equipment or property
  20. Do remember: Acquirers buy IP & CUSTOMERS
  21. Don’t let ‘Best’ become your holy grail. Remember that ‘Best’ is the enemy of ‘Better’
  22. Do take VC money BUT only if you DON’T need it
  23. Do understand, the better the corporate foundation, the higher the multiple
  24. Don’t get hung up on number of shares, percent is a true indicator of ownership
  25. Do share ownership with your team, they will make you succeed or help you fail


About the Author

Mr. Wynkoop has been in the medical biotech industry for over 30 years and is a veteran entrepreneur. He has contributed to the genesis of several successful startup companies and was instrumental to the growth of a number of companies, and has participated in several successful company exits. His experience includes financial and business operations with both public and private companies, including the management of turnarounds, financial restructurings, integration of acquisitions, strategic shifts in core operations, and helping grow early-stage companies. Mr. Wynkoop’s experience includes being CEO, CFO, President, and VP of Sales and Marketing. He co-founded OrthoHelix Surgical Designs, which was acquired by Tornier (NASDAQ:TRNX) for $135M (4.6 X annual sales). He was an early contributor in the operations and customer development & relations at RTI Surgical, (NASDAQ:RTIX) a leader of biological orthopedic devices.

Marty is the current Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of Florida, School of Engineering. Additionally, Mr. Wynkoop is on the board of directors of several companies. Marty is married to Patricia & they have four children and six grandchildren.

Today Marty’s consulting firm, KoopCo, LLC assists and coaches small companies and start ups in strategic growth, financial strength, sales, marketing development, regulatory and quality compliance.

You can reach Marty Wynkoop at mwynkoop@koopco.com