From a dirt floor to the biotech Shark Tank– an interview with medical robotics CEO Torrey Smith
Raised by hang-gliding hippies traveling through Mexico and South America, Torrey Smith later became a successful aerospace engineer. But the idea of sending in the nanobots to fix biological ailments inside human beings was a frustrating one for Torrey Smith. As he had only seen the idea conceptualized in science fiction, he wondered why nobody has managed to achieve it in real life. And he just may become the first one to do it! In this interview we cover the career path of CEO Torrey Smith, the co-founder of medical robotics company Endiatx, maker of the PillBot; his mission, his unconventional spirit, and his pursuit of progressive thinking.
The full transcript of the podcast is below; here are the highlights. Before you take a read, though, please pause for a moment and subscribe to our podcast.
He wanted to bring science fiction into real life.
Torrey co-founded Endiatx, the medical robotics company that invented PillBot.
PillBot allows a doctor to look around inside your stomach, completely decoupled from an office visit. It reduces the risk and cost of a hospital endoscopy. This lowers the cost of the procedure, which usually takes three to six visits. It takes the patient out of the hospital environment, as the procedure can be performed within the comfort of the patient’s home. They swallow the medical robotics pill, and the doctor manipulates the nanobot carrying a camera inside the patient’s stomach using a hand-held device.
This has tremendous potential to impact patients in the developing world, where people have to travel hundreds of miles to an endoscopy clinic for a ten-minute endoscopy. It is a tremendous example of the potential of medical robotics.
And by the way, what is medical robotics?
Medical robotics is the use of nanobots to manipulate devices inside the human body, such as cameras, catheters, or other surgical tools. The goal is to minimize the invasiveness of the procedure. Surgeons use hand held control devices to maneuver the robot.
Every founder has his or her own story marked by the key points where they rose or fell. Here are some of the important aspects of this medical robotics CEO’s journey that we feel are relevant to other biotech entrepreneurs.
The willingness to be mentored was transformative
When Torrey and his team first started Endiatx, it was a lesson in hard core networking. At first, he started reaching out to any gastroenterologist that would talk to him. The bar was very high – as it should be – in getting them to consider their idea.
It all changed when he discovered The Founder’s Institute, a pre-seed startup accelerator. It is a humanitarian organization that allows anyone to apply and be screened to join, a bootcamp for founders akin to the biotech version of Shark Tank.
During his time in their program, Torrey came to realize that the difference between a successful founder and a person dreaming about starting a company is the former is willing to be humiliated, terrified, and fail publicly almost every day for years in a row, but is relentless unwilling to give up.
As part of the training, he was given the mandate to raise $100k over next 2 weeks or you fail the program. He raised $185k.
It also led him to round out his skill set. He is very much a technologist and not a researcher, but they forced him to do research. This strengthened his pitch and fundraising potential as a medical robotics CEO.
A determination forged by an unpredictable childhood
Torrey was born in a log cabin in the mountains with a dirt floor, made by hand by his father. Raised by hang-gliding hippies traveling through the mountains of Central and South America, he has all sorts of interesting stories to tell.
For example, once when he was a kid in Nicaragua, the jalopy broke down when trying to cross a river. There was water coming up through the floorboards, and his father told him, “Get your backpack and little brother, get some wood and start a fire. I’ll be back in a half hour.” That was normal.
What he got out of that was what the definition of a crisis is.
He says he can’t relate when he sees founders quitting on their companies because things got difficult or the 50th investor turned them down. He’s been rejected by over 300 venture capitalists.
But five said yes!
The way he sees it, you have to be willing to be uncomfortable and afraid because that’s where all the fun stuff is found. Having the ability to define for yourself what is redline is important for a founder. According to Torrey, “It’s from my cold dead hands that somebody is going to pull this dream.”
A spirit of progress
Torrey was always fascinated by the idea of bringing these nanobots, these medical robotic technologies to the realm of real life, despite how ridiculous the novelty seemed. According to him, “You never want to found a company with a vision like, ‘I’m a slightly better version of something else.’ Or, ‘I’m going to take two business models, combine them, and take credit for it.’”
But as intent as he is on achieving his dream, he’s not aiming to stay there forever after he gets there. He intends to move himself out of the equation and inspire other founders in the spirit of keeping progress alive in the field of medical robotics and biotech.
“My goal is to become a dinosaur as soon as possible so I can step out of the limelight, fund them, and keep the progress going.”
We hope you’ll listen to the story of this inspirational medical robotics CEO. If you prefer to read, please find the transcript below.
0:00:00.1 TIM DOUGHERTY: Thanks for joining us today for another edition of life sciences and biotech CEOS. I'm Tim Dougherty your host, and our guest today is Torrey Smith the Co-Founder & CEO of Endiatx, a medical robotics company that manufactures tiny robotic pills capable of active movement inside the human stomach with control over internet protocol. Prior to launching Endiatx, he developed medical devices in the areas of endometrial ablation, atherectomy, therapeutic hypothermia, sleep apnea, and vascular closure. An aerospace engineer by training, he takes a keen interest in the deep tech sector, and is a proud mentor of up-and-coming founders at the Founder Institute. He is also the principal founder of the international arts collective known as Sextant, and he has had his art featured in the Smithsonian.
It's a pleasure to have you with us today. Torrey is involved in the manufacture of tiny robotic pills equipped with a camera and capable of control movement inside the human body. How did you come up with that idea?
0:01:26.6 TORREY SMITH: I basically think this idea is relatively obvious, our technology is basically just four little propellers on electric motors, so you can sort of think of it as a quad pump, it which really just borrows the control laws from the quadcopter world. This is a drone pill that you can pilot it around inside the stomach, but to me, the concept of tiny robots in the human body has always seemed obvious because you read about it in books, you see it in movies, it's a common theme in science fiction, send in the nanobots to go... fix the problem, right. And I just started to get frustrated, that didn't seem to be real in the sense that there weren't products treating patients, and so eventually when I saw Given Imaging, the makers of the first pill camera back in 2014, they sold to Covidien for almost a billion dollars. I realized, hey, I think... I think maybe the time is now to see if we can take it to the next level.
0:02:38.2 TIM DOUGHERTY: Okay, so how does it really work? What have...
0:02:42.4 TORREY SMITH: The way it works is you... Let me take the big prototype here, right? This is our first protype Pillbot. We are very grateful to Fred Weber who used to be the CTO over at AMD for loaning us his pool early in the company, but the way we move around is we use these little propellers to push and pull through those lumens, and we're able to get most of the control that you would get out of like a normal aircraft, so you can move forward and backward. We can turn left and write, we can pitch up and pitch down, and we can also spin rapidly on our access in place, and when I combine all of those emotions, you can basically do just about anything in a nice fluid volume, so we ask her... We ask our patients, which up till now have been the founders to drink a bunch of water and turn themselves into a water back for a few minutes.
0:03:39.9 TIM DOUGHERTY: Okay, so I know that you were the first to swallow the pill... Yeah, go for. What were your initial expectations? And how does that match with the ultimate reality? Sure.
0:03:56.3 TORREY SMITH: I think with our first swallow, we just wanted to get any kind of good signal, right. We knew our video quality would be very limited, we were like gray scale back to like 48 pixels square, not very good frames per minute, and we're a little bit better now, but... So, it's a long challenge working through all these performance metrics that we're trying to get to a clinical level, we're just looking for anything real, anything that would tell us resoundingly that we were on to something, and a couple of minutes into the swallow is... We're sort of driving around this sort of gray scale Moon scape of my stomach, we saw this piece of tissue that was coming off, and the neat thing about it was even with our terrible resolution, you were definitely seeing something specific, you're like, That is a piece of tissue that's coming off, it looks kind of like a tape worm, and we literally went like, Whoa, as we are filming, and we realized this thing has legs, if we can tune this thing, if we can improve it incrementally, I think we're going to be giving doctors a tool that is relevant to millions of patients every here.
0:05:10.6 TIM DOUGHERTY: So, you designed it and then you swallowed it yourself as a first test and sins, now we... iterate sort of forward a little bit, you've been working with Dr. Cambari at Mayo Clinic, Florida.. How did that relationship germinate?
0:05:30.3 TORREY SMITH: I would say James designed it, I helped him tune it, Alex got the radio working, and Dandan was the one who designed the electric circuits... Right, so let's give these guys credit, but getting from our living room here first, and human was actually on this couch behind me, getting from our living room in Silicon Valley to Jacksonville, Florida to the Mayo Clinic, was basically just a lesson in really hard-core network, we started reaching out to any gastroenterologist that would be willing to talk to us. And we were born to that the community has a reputation for being... Well, I don't think we need to speak down to it, I think we should simply say that gastroenterologist spend a huge amount of time and effort yet acquiring the skills and experiences they do to be able to do the job that they do. So, when you come along with a disruptive concept, you have to, for your extraordinary claim, provide some extraordinary evidence. Right, so the bar is high, that's where the part should be, frankly, but after a few years, we made friends with increasingly high-profile GIS, and I think that the primary credit would go to Dr. Hey, who runs King's College, London's gastroenterology program. We became friends on LinkedIn, we had this sort of spiritual alignment, and it was Dr. Hey, who introduced us to his close friend, Dr. Cambari. And that's when the relationship really started to take hold. In very early 2021.
0:07:12.4 TIM DOUGHERTY: Okay, so how many years has this started to present, going...
0:07:19.8 TORREY SMITH: Personally, went to full-time on the idea with my co-founder, James Beard, and I would say like October of 2018, that's when that's... Well, I guess I still had a job at that point. But James went full-time. I joined the founder Institute at the very beginning of January 2019. I managed to get to let go from my medical device job and actually got some severance, which was very helpful, we incorporated the company in March of 2019, and we've been running ever since, so the companies officially just over three years old.
0:07:54.7 TIM DOUGHERTY: Okay, so that's a lot of progress really in two years.
0:07:58.8 TORREY SMITH: We measure progress from... We try to look at tangible thing, so here's my first notebook, it's called Endiatx one, and I used to think the company logo was gonna be a shield, the shield, that's like a three-part shield protecting human life, and the three parts of the shield would be endoscopy, Diagnostics and Treatment, crush that together, you've got Endiatx. No one likes that logo, so we don't use that today, but we basically walked in the Founder Institute with notebook sketches of how a robot might be able to move around in the human body. I think that submarine is in there, and we were pretty agnostic, would it be an inch worm, would it be like a nitinol mesh tube or a series of piezoelectrically-driven legs? We have no idea. For a while, my favorite idea was the thumper that would come its way back and forth, but with these little jelly fingers selectively move in one direction, and we tried more than 30 different ideas before we finally realized, if you drink a bunch of water, you become a water bag in a part of your body that has an unmet need, the stomach, and we realized, let's make a product that can function in the stomach and affect patients’ lives, and then let's see how far we can go with that elsewhere in the body.
0:09:27.5 TIM DOUGHERTY: So let's go off on a little tangent here per minute, and tell me about what the Founders Institute is like, cause I kinda picture it as shark tank for technology. Yeah.
0:09:40.4 TORREY SMITH: Yeah, that's a reasonable... That's a reasonable guess, right. Founder Institute is perhaps the most humanitarian, maybe the most positive institution I've ever come across in my life, the founders at is Adeo Ressi, and that people he's brought together, we'll let anyone in the world literally now because they're their global institution, including almost 100% virtual now, anyone in the world, can apply to Founder Institute, be screened for some basic criteria to see if it makes sense for them to actually join a cohort and then learn how to rip the band-aid off, which is their comfort zone, which is their old life. I think a lot of us wish we were 19 years old and dropping out of Stanford to launch Google, say, what do you do if you were in my position? 37 years old and depressed and kinda arrogant in a cubicle, it was such a naive existence I was living, and yet Founder Institute helped me to feel like I could do this, and they showed me every step of the way what to do week by week, it's scrolling though, they target about a 30% graduation rate, so it's not at all a walk in the park, but if you're committed to your idea, it's extremely inexpensive and open to anyone willing to apply.
0:11:14.6 TIM DOUGHERTY: So are there groups that go through the process together or to... On your own. At your pace then?
0:11:27.4 TORREY SMITH: No, it's not at your own pace, no, no, no, no. Okay, Founder Institute is a boot camp for founders, Ryan Micheletti is one of the guys, along with Mike Suprovici really, really changed my life. They were part of my cohort, very high up at Founder Institute. Ryan said on the first day, this is a boot camp for founders... Everything is a test, right? Because the difference between a successful founder and a person dreaming about starting a company is that the successful founder is willing to be humiliated and terrified and fail publicly almost every day of their existence for years in a row, that's what a successful founder's journey looks like, is just sucking really bad and getting your bucket, but relentlessly being unwilling to give up... Right, and so Founder Institute is unrelenting in their program, one of my homework assignments was quit my job or get fired by the next week, one of my homework assignments was incorporate the company by next week, or I will fail the program and it's pass, fail, it's... You're either in or you're out. I think one of the most fun homework assignments I had was raise $100000 in the next two weeks, or you fail the program now, and we did it, we walked in with that notebook sketch, but by the end of the program, we had put together a little 3D printer using our own money, a couple thousand bucks, and we started making actual hardware and...
0:13:13.2 TORREY SMITH: Well, PillBot is not glamorous pool, but was real, and it allowed us to raise $185000 from our close personal professional network.
0:13:26.5 TIM DOUGHERTY: Wow, so you kind of asked me rhetorically on our first meeting, do you think that a moving eye wall inside the stomach has value, and so I turn that sort of back to you and more directly, what do you think the implications of PillBot are for gastroenterology?
0:13:50.9 TORREY SMITH: You know what, we're gonna be really focused on what this first product can do and making it real... Right, so like we said, we started with this ridiculous hardware, I have rooms full of investors left laughing at us, not in a malicious way, but I would get on a stage and you pitch microrobotics in the human body and I hold this thing up, you know that's kind of funny that... But the money that we raised with that was sufficient for us to start going to custom electronics, we left the Raspberry Pi hardware behind, but you can still see [unintelligible], not great, glamorous, that got us down to thumb size, this helped us raise our next round, and then here we are at the fingertip scale now, and we're in a whole different world. So what do we think we can do for the world of Gastroenterology? What can we do for patients? Well, if you're a founder listening in on this, it's all about differentiation, it's all about being able to say, I have an idea that If I can pull off this idea with my team, it's going to change the game.
0:14:55.6 TORREY SMITH: You never wanna found a company that's like, I'm a slightly better version of something else, or I'm gonna take two other business models and I'm gonna sort of combine them and take credit for it, don't kid yourself, no one... No one is going to be interested in talking to you. So, what we're saying is, we think we can create a technology that will allow a doctor to actively and in real time look around inside your body, in this case, the stomach, completely decoupled from a hospital visit itself. Right, this technology can be deployed to the patient's living room, and you just essentially hop on a zoom call, much like this call, and just pair the things, swallow it and another video screen should pop up and you get to see what the robot sees and that ability for a doctor to look around inside a patient without months of hospital visits, which represents the appropriate but the unfortunate but necessary gatekeeping process that balances out the risks and costs of a traditional sedation-based hospital endoscopy. We can move that 10 to 15 minutes of doctor time right to the beginning of the process. And the patient's living room.
0:16:12.1 TORREY SMITH: Then we're really changing the game. We could drastically lower the cost of a typical patient and really drastically open up access to patients all around the world.
0:16:24.1 TIM DOUGHERTY: Do you think that the PillBot impact medicine in the underdeveloped world.
0:16:30.5 TORREY SMITH: That's one of the most exciting areas. Here, I was blown away when founder Institute, cry me a river, forced me to do market research, I would very much what many would call a technologist, I think things are cool and I chase those things because it's fun to work on it. I think I'm just fortunate that we happen to have a potential product market fit here, I'm not worried about the market, I'm worried about getting the product to work well enough to address that market, but our research showed us that patients in the developing world will often have to take trains and buses, even airplanes, to travel hundreds of miles to an endoscopy clinic, just so that a doctor can have 10 minutes to look around visually inside their stomach, and we're basically making a technology... Let me hold up our entire hardware as it stands to be... Okay, here we go. So this is the system, the system is the PillBot itself, a little USB dongle and a smartphone, and it could be a laptop too, but basically that's what it looks like. This right now is about $45. We'd like to get the disposable part of the system down to about 25 bucks to build it, and then we can figure out how much makes sense to sell it for in a typical market in the US market, a passive pill camera retails for $500.
0:18:03.6 TORREY SMITH: So if I can build it for $25, sell it for $500 here in the US. Those are great unit economics, but let's imagine on a refugee camp in Sub-Saharan Africa, I'm sure we can sell it for much less there, they're still plenty of money you can make, but the bottom line, if you can get this device, this little cheap packaged device to that refugee camp in like a suitcase of our product, contrite, hundreds of patients, right. Then the best doctor in the world could have a look inside that patient and figure out what's going on, but we should add that many of the doctors we've spoken to in the developing world have asked us to make sure that while they love the data analytics and well, they love the concept of a cloud-based control platform for it, they've all said one thing, please keep near field control active under all circumstances, so it's the internet down, let a local doctor be able to treat that patient directly as well, which was a very important thing for us to learn. And we have some of the best doctors in the world across the world, so there's no...
0:19:16.7 TORREY SMITH: There's no requirement that we remove the doctor from the situation, but with that being said, I sort of see this as the ultimate hardcore telemedicine.
0:19:26.4 TIM DOUGHERTY: Wow. Wow, okay, so I know there are a couple of competitors, I know that Medtronic is work, how does PillBot differ from other competitors offers.
0:19:41.3 TORREY SMITH: So I'd like to give credit to our most direct competitors that this company would be called AnX Robotica... They're based out of China, but they are FDA cleared in the United States. I think their headquarters is in Dallas. I'm kinda hoping to see them at DDW... The upcoming GI conference, if possible, these folks are doing amazing work in the human stomach, and what they do is they take a traditional pill camera platform and they put a magnet inside it, and this thing now responds to magnetic fields, and their product is the magnetic pull camera in concert with a piece of capital equipment that you can sort of think of like the baby brother of an MRI machine. This is not a multi-million dollar machine, I think it's like 100,000 or maybe a little bit more than that. But the bottom line is, they have a patient lie in a magnetic machine and by manipulating powerful external magnetic fields, they induced motion and basically create the same thing we're trying to create the moving eye ball in the stomach and in their clinical trial where they gain FDA clearance, more than 90% of the patients who went through who had both the magnetic capsule and a normal endoscopy, more than 90% said we absolutely prefer not to have tubes jammed to our stingrays.
0:21:08.4 TIM DOUGHERTY: 10% didn't, but
0:21:10.5 TORREY SMITH: I don't know if it was 5% or 10%, so I won't say more than 90%, so AnX Robotica is really knocking it out of the park, and rather than be worried about this, we need to give them full credit for an amazing achieve that particular technology does mean that the patient has to be in the hospital. To receive the treatment. Right, so that's kind of the big thing is that there's a machine that you need to get on a wait list to get into that machine, and that's where on the differentiation side, I think Endiatx stands to go address lots of patients. We can go get some market share for ourselves, that's great, but the mind... The global endoscopy devices market throughout the human body is a 67 billion dollar market. The GI tract alone, where we are all beginning, but not where we want to end, that's a 9 billion dollar market, we think we need as many players as possible active in this space in order to meet the patient med that's out there because covid was terrible for the world of Gastroenterology, because millions of procedures were simply delayed or cancelled because the physical doctor patient contact wasn't appropriate when you balance out the risks.
0:22:31.0 TORREY SMITH: Right, so basically, thank you on AnX Robotica, thank you, NaviCam, which is their product, because that actually does give us a good predicate to get through FDA quickly, but you mentioned Medtronic, we actually kinda feel like Medtronic are a bit more adjacent to us, Medtronic currently owns the pill camp product line, this is what I'm holding right here, that started in 1997 in Israel with Given imaging, 2001 they got FDA clearance. 2014, they sell to Covidien 860 million. We touched on that earlier, and then Medtronic bought Covidien in 2015, so the world of passive pill cameras and the world of active endoscopies represent... Those two different markets, right? GI tract and endoscopy devices market, that's like What? 9 billion passive pill camera market that’s about about 500 million, and the reason for that disparity is that if you ask a gastroenterologist how frequently they can use a pill camera, unfortunately, the result that comes back is passive pill cameras are about a 1- 3% niche use product. Doctors need the ability to move around and look and do things, doctors need to be able to do their jobs, all of their training, all of those years of medical school and residency forced them to need to look around because, yeah, everyone wants to go find the disease, that's what you think the layperson thinks, Oh, we're gonna go find the disease, but 80% of the time or more, you find nothing, it's rare that you find a physical disease, what they're terrified about is that they are missing the disease, the concept of a false negative is the worst possible thing, that's the thing that we're all scared of, and that's where active devices that actually go move around and do things, have access to a much larger market.
0:24:32.4 TORREY SMITH: So for us, it's about 6 to 8 million patients in the US every year getting upper endoscopy. We would like to speak with that patient population and maybe pull a substantial number of them out of the healthcare system, out of the hospital system specifically, and go have a look at them in their living rooms.
0:24:52.2 TIM DOUGHERTY: The question that comes to my mind is that I wasn't aware of... You said that the passive camera markets about 500. Why does a company like Medtronic, I think it's around give or take, $140 billion company, why are they bothered with $500 MM.
0:25:12.3 TORREY SMITH: Well, Medtronic is not, in any case, dominated by passive pill cameras, that's just one of many product on, and we need to give some credit to Medtronic care because as much AnX Robotica has done with moving pill cameras, Jeff Martha partnered with Amazon. And Medtronic is now doing FDA cleared home delivery of passive pill cameras, and so basically, they have pioneered using this platform where it makes most sense, so basically a patient will qualify for the passive pill, even if it's a 1 to 3% use case. That's a lot of patients in the US and Amazon, we'll get the pill to their house, they'll swallow it under appropriate direction, and then Amazon Web Services is handling the data that comes out of it, and so... This is amazing. They recently have been FDA cleared, and so again, that's another very useful predicate for us when we start to go through FDA ourselves, and so let's not denigrate anyone here, but basically Medtronic done a huge, huge accomplishment getting home swallowing of electronics approved by FDA. You're also doing amazing work with artificial intelligence, getting more information out of that stream of picture that comes out of the passive pill camera, and we should expect to see that sort of increase the clinical use profile, but Endiatx, look, we're a bunch of science fiction geeks that wanna make tiny robotic surgeons come on.
0:26:54.1 TORREY SMITH: Our dream here is not to be a better pill cam , our dream is to put more than one camera on it pointed in the same direction, and boom, just... Wow, I'm in a giant stomach. This is cool. Wherever I point my head, the camera, the robot's propulsion system points the robot and... Holy cow, I have surgical robot arms now, let's wire... Know what? Let's go kill cancer. Right. Where it lives, we feel that this concept of... It's almost like a Magic School Bus, if we can create this motion platform first as a moving eye ball, but then as a platform to do surgery, and then as an ever smaller platform that can do microsurgery, maybe we can go up the bile duct, we can have a look at the pancreas, maybe we can leave the GI tract and go into places like the heart and the brain. I think it's gonna be a really exciting world out there, and I think we're gonna need a lot of help, we're gonna need competing companies, we're gonna need lots of new ideas, we're gonna be the latest in manufacturing and energy, but this is a whole new universe, I think that we're starting to open up and we're just kind of proud to be relevant right now, this is exciting.
0:28:17.2 TIM DOUGHERTY: What do you think is the initial business opportunity...
0:28:20.7 TORREY SMITH: Oh, very simple. We touched on 6 to 8 million upper endoscopies in the US each year. We are trying to make a moving eyeball in the stomach that is a useful enough tool for a GI like Dr. Kumbhari, where for say 25 and 55, say 50% of their patients, it's relevant based on the patient's symptoms and any history of contraindications, I think this device could be relevant to as much as 50% of the population, potentially even more. Right, and basically, if we can take that patient population and let's just draw a big circle around, first symptoms, to emergency room, to primary care, to referral to GI, to flank, the screening, to finally getting your upper endoscopy, whatever that cost the patient, and whatever that costs the healthcare system, the insurance system, and whatever risk that put into the hospital system of all that physical contact, which I think we're acutely aware of, draw a circle around that, put some kind of a number on it and then say, Okay, for a lot of you folks, you wanna drink some water and swallow a pill in your living room instead of doing all of that.
0:29:39.5 TORREY SMITH: I think that's a big business opportunity.
0:29:41.9 TIM DOUGHERTY: What is a traditional and a scope cost...
0:29:45.9 TORREY SMITH: It's super cheap. If you look at the code, it's usually like 1700 bucks. But have you ever been to the hospital and gotten a 1700 bill? Usually it's like, No, no. Let's just call BS right there, right? We all know the reality, if you're going to the hospital six times and getting bounced around the system, if you wanna go ahead and add up all those bills... Be my guest. The reality is, upper endoscopies are difficult to get to ask your friends what they ask your friends with Crones or any kind of GI issue, so how satisfying and fun was your journey through our healthcare system to get to an upper endoscopy? And unfortunately, you're going to hear... This is the worst thing I've ever done. You know, I've heard six visits ever, three visits. My sister Flora is a nurse with excellent health care, she had a terrible belly ache and at four visits in, they were finally saying maybe you qualify for an upper endoscopy, her symptoms were gone a month before she ever even qualified to get the procedure that's gonna go find nothing, and the whole health care system just wasted tens of thousands of dollars because it's not appropriate to jam a tube into your body, just 'cause you have a belly ache.
0:31:08.4 TORREY SMITH: That's the problem, there's no boogie man here, there's no one bad players here that's making it difficult for this, it's just that our technology doesn't yet make it appropriate to give a gastroenterologist that look inside you every time your belly hurts. We think we can change that, right? Our goal for a typical patient is to make their cost or for a typical healthcare provider, like an insurance company, sorry, I wanna cut the cost to get to that upper by about an order of magnitude, and I want to increase the access to this procedure by about an order of magnitude. So for a doctor who's doing patients, they make most of their money treating patients, not herding them through the hospital system, so I'd actually like to increase the amount of money a doctor can earn by virtue of increasing the number of patients they can treat for the health insurance company for a given name on a list, I want that name to get the health care situation resolved, get them out of the hospital system, Stop the payouts. For much less money, I think health insurance companies should love us. I think doctors should love us, I think the clinics those doctors work for that are also tied to that cashflow based on number of patients, I think they should love us, and most importantly, I think a typical patient should go from, Well, this cost someone a lot of money or maybe I lost my house to...
0:32:39.6 TORREY SMITH: Wow, that was just fast and cheap and kind of fun, I got to go on a zoom call with my doctor and for the first time ever an unsedated patient, which typically your patient in the US is fully sedated, you get to be fully sober and cognizant and awake while your doctor looks around inside your stomach, and so think about what that means from a bedside manner of standard of care, usually patients are sort of groggy recovering from sedation while a doctor is trying to tell them what they just found and then they run off and then later you get a report that you don't understand and you feel a little out of sync with the healthcare system that's no one's fault, it's... That's what technology as of today gives us... I wanna change that. Right, I want you to be like, Wow, doc my belly hurts. Let's ask you some questions about diverticulitis, and if you qualify, quickly answer it and move on.
0:33:37.2 TIM DOUGHERTY: What in fact, don't you need in order to attain that vision, you need a healthcare system that is geared toward results rather than multiple procedures to get paid, because what you're doing is limiting the number of procedures you no longer need four trips to the hospital before you are qualified for an upper end as you could do it in... one the first day, it was 500 bucks.
TORREY SMITH: Am I right or tell me to tell me or tell me your concern isn't... Let's dig into it.
So let's say... Currently, we have a system which is based on, Well, Dr. A, send you to Doctor B. We send you to doctors seeing they all get paid. If Dr. A can just say, Well, take this pill. And we'll find out what's going on there. There's no need for Doctor B and C. It's cheaper to the system, the insurance company likes it. But the employer of Dr. B and C may not.
0:34:53.5 TORREY SMITH: These are very good questions. In all the medical devices I've ever worked on, like since the nine years of my life, this is the [unintelligible] system cuts plaque out of arteries, I think of like a roto-router.
0:35:06.6 TIM DOUGHERTY: A... Yeah.
0:35:09.3 TORREY SMITH: We would always get asked similar questions every time you bring a new technology in and you start testing it out, Oh no, what if you disrupt the system... I've actually found that the health care system, this is international, to be extremely interested in any new technology that can do the job better or safer or faster, I've never met anyone in our system that wasn't ever to play with the shiny new thing. In fact, when we were doing our cadavers study, we had doctors scrubbing up and banging on the door and running in and be like... I heard the rumor now to give me that Xbox controller right now, just give it to me. People wanna play with the thing, if it's gonna be a better tool, it's kind of like if you walked into a... Here's a good analogy, let's look at a raceway and a typical race day, you've got a bunch of race cars and you've got all the pit crews and you've got the announcers, okay, then... But let's say It's 1955, and you go in there with a McLaren F1 or something from the mid 90s and you just put that on the track, do you think people are gonna scoff at...
0:36:20.6 TORREY SMITH: You know, every single person in that ecosystem is gonna want to get their hands on... So I don't have the full metrics for exactly what will happen when we go to market with possibly the most disruptive piece of medical technology since penicillin, I'm gonna let the bean counters figured it out because we have very limited cycles on this team, we need to really focus on making this thing work because as exciting as this is now, and it's exciting as it is that we're in, things are looking very good on the funding side for us right now, we are gonna get our butts kicked over the next three months, turning this from a technology demonstrator that once in a while it gives you one of those Wow moments, I call this like a 5% to 10% product, right now. Then we need to cross that hurdle and go to, honestly, this thing works 90 plus percent of the time, or better, right. We have our work completely cut out for us making this technology work the way we want it to work, we'll let someone else figure out exactly what the impact is gonna, look at
0:37:30.3 TIM DOUGHERTY: That, what's the process for that? To make it work. Well, yes, to bring it to market, all that sort of... How do you envision...
0:37:41.6 TORREY SMITH: Basically, the next three months, we did our kick-off meeting just a few days ago and recorded it, and basically the next three months, it's just gonna be an R and D sprint. We have a battery in here that's got stainless steel case, and that stainless steel casing is just about equal to the deficit in buoyancy that we are experiencing right now, so I hold this thing up, this represents a very small... As we can make it, but check out this bad boy, this one in this hand is one that we actually swallowed a few weeks ago, and to get it to float, I had to cut some of the motors out, I bleached the thing. But let's just say my work gets a little weird sometimes, we had to drop some motors, notice how we had to put a big air gap in there for buoyancy this thing was like, I swallowed it, but it's fatter and longer than our clinical product is intended to be it was
0:38:42.9 TIM DOUGHERTY: Stuck, I think I would be afraid to swallow...
0:38:45.3 TORREY SMITH: Oh, we get... That was a rough, rough pill to swallow, but while that thing was in my stomach, We got 375 megabytes on, and you realize even with this like infantile like technology, this thing that really needs a lot of improvement, we are creating like maybe the world stickiest data set, and we're doing it in the living room setting, the sheer power of what we can do over time as we get all of this data to work through, and I'm gonna say some alphabet soup here... So I apologize, a little bit of AI, a little bit of ML the data analytics that we can do with this is going to be incredible, right? So anyways, next couple of months, yeah, we're looking for smaller motors, lighter batteries, we need to put a fish-eye lens on this thing, put some optical filters to that end, I've been making friends with people that are experts in the field of optics. And basically, in a few months time, I'd like to be able to go back to Dr. Kumbhari and basically say, Okay, we think we have the next thing. Let's do either a cadaver study or maybe a limited human trial under an IRB, an institutional review board, and see what we come up with, and we're gonna do that iterative loop as many times as needed to yield something where the doctors say, I need this in my clinic now.
0:40:16.0 TORREY SMITH: Right, that's... Our performance requirements are not really so much like any given number, like this many frames per second, or this resolution or this size, no, we'll know we have the right thing when doctors are screaming for it, when they are furious that they don't have access to it commercially at that moment in time, that's when we will basically raise our series A and go through [unintelligible].
0:40:45.6 TIM DOUGHERTY: My understanding is you raised about a million dollars from family friends, angels, that sort of a thing
0:40:54.3 TORREY SMITH: Venture capitalist as well, or
0:40:55.8 TIM DOUGHERTY: And another million A from the VC’s?
0:40:59.1 TORREY SMITH: So current situation, and I need to be kind of careful 'cause SEC asks us not to do what's called a general solicitation, which basically would be an inappropriate call for investors. So what I can say is that we've in past rounds closed out more than a million dollars, just over a million to go from the notebook sketches I showed you earlier to I think we're up to 24 robots that we've sent through our own bodies, multiple pats filed one, granted averted, which were very grateful for. So that's what we did with $1 million. Our seed round is essentially closed out that we're bringing in a total of $3 million to help us go from a tech demonstrator to a minimum viable product. And now I have a very interesting task in front of me, which is, can I take a pile of three million bucks and a company worth about 15 million by the term sheet, I... Can I take 3 million and build a 100 million company with it? Can I make this product work? That's now what I'm facing. And it's funny because I spent my entire career wishing, dreaming that one day I would be sitting in this situation, you know, so we've gotten funding that we have a team, that we have this device, and here, now that those wishes have been granted, Tim, it's terrifying.
0:42:42.0 TORREY SMITH: This is an incredible moment in the life of this company, and the weight and of the pressure that we're feeling right now is pretty intense, and that there's no other place we'd rather be... But this is a really exciting time.
0:43:00.3 TIM DOUGHERTY: Well, you mentioned to me when we first talked to or that you had kind of a financially challenging situation growing up, and now you're sitting as the CEO of a company that may be worth somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 million and going up from there... Are there ways in which that challenging youth has taught you how to go through this process?
0:43:45.4 TORREY SMITH: Absolutely. So it seems surreal, and I describe myself as a lower case CEO. I'll be a real CEO when we treat a patient... That's one. It'll be real, but I have to think of it as real now, because enough people have put their life savings into this or making big bets on us, place big bets on us, that I can't ever take this... Anything but seriously. So yes, I will take that mantle, but it's surreal because I still remember when I was young, my dad built a little dirt floor cabin in the eastern Sierra Nevadas, He delivered me in that cabin, there was no doctor, then he has my mother off with spring water and ditched her to go hanggliding, and she hiked down to town and weighed me in the produce aisle... She tells me I was about six pounds, but I was raised by hand gliding hippies in the mountains, traveling throughout Mexico and Central America, and it was kind of a different perspective on things. And we didn't always have a home, you know, there were times when my family was living in a stand of trees north of San Cruz, California, and I would wake up in my sleeping bag with a highway patrol officer wrapping on the window, you can't be here.
0:45:10.8 TORREY SMITH: And that was kind of normal to me, right, and I didn't understand until later that that wasn't normal for everyone else, entering public school was a bit of a culture shock, because I found that a lot of the ideas that my parents espoused weren't necessarily espoused by the typical kids on the playground, but that's gonna be normal for most kids, if it was all peace and love at home, the Japanese proverb of the nail that sticks out gets hammered down is definitely something that's worth it. Yeah, I think what I got out of that background though, is just my own definition of what a crisis is... Right, because as a kid, my version of a crisis was,you're in Nicaragua and your jalopy just broke down when you were trying to ford a river, and the water is coming up through the floor boards and the car stuck in the middle of the river, and dad issaying, Alright, you know what, we're not gonna make it across, Get Your... Get your backpack, get your little brother get his backpack, I want you to go to the far side of River. Why don't you get some wood make a camp, start a fire.
0:46:24.7 TORREY SMITH: I'll be back in a couple hours, I'm gonna get trick to the town you saw back there, I'm gonna get some buddies and we'll have this sorted in the morning, that was just kind of normal. Right, and so when I see founders quitting on their companies because things got difficult or because the 50th investor has turned them down, like understand, we've been rejected by more than 300 venture capitalists so far, and something like five have said yes to us, that's more than 1% hit rate. We're actually doing pretty good on that. Getting into Harvard is something like a 5% hit rate. Fundraising is around one percent, right? So having the ability to just define for yourself what is red line is very important because it's from my cold dead hands that someone's gonna pull this dream, like I will be making these robots under an overpass with my co-founder James cooking bacon around a campfire, and playing with little sticks and glue, one way or another. We've gotten down to zero. Well, we've never gone insolvent and we've never bounced a check, that's very important to us, but we've taken this company down to nearly zero cash numerous times. Poor James and I told James, we've skipped payroll so many times during Covid, but rather than complain and give up because of Covid, we decided to say that covid gives us a license to raise money from anyone anywhere because of Zoom calls it, you used to only raise in your area, Covid ended that.
0:48:06.9 TORREY SMITH: Covid also made it really clear that telemedicine probably has value, and Endiatx is never going to brand itself as a Covid company that's cheap, we're not gonna do that, but we are grateful for the focus that the world puts on the value of telemedicine and also look, you don't have to have millions of dollars to show people that you can make real things and turn a little bit of money into a little bit more traction. So yeah, you have to take... You have to take whatever darkness or pain or the fear you have, and you just have to become comfortable with it. I'm not fearless, I'm terrified. Almost every day I'm scared, I feel nauseated. Sometimes I'll start meetings and my hands will be shaking... Right, that's normal. Right.
0:49:00.1 TIM DOUGHERTY: You have to just be willing to be uncomfortable and afraid because that's where all the fun stuff isfound.
TIM DOUGHERTY: I think you mentioned one time that many... You just told me many investors were kind of put off by your unconventional spirit, I guess they had thought of the richest man in the world at that point, and how lucky they would have been to have invested in Tesla 20 years ago or whatever it was, but is there a challenging or an especially fun story about the capital raising process that you can share with us?
0:49:51.2 TORREY SMITH: I would say this kind of comes back to Founder Institute. I did, I went into Founder Institute, and so I was able to benefit from their program, and then my team was able to rally around that, but Founder Institute relentlessly supports their founder network, and so I was doing an online pitch, this was in... I think October, November of 2019, and this awesome guy named Ariel Gomes Ortigoza from Lantana BioSoft and he said, Hey, I saw your pitch, I'm based in Lyon and on to quote, but I'm in Berkeley, do you wanna meet? And so I drove over there and I think what I had at that time were this robot and parts of this robot, and we sat down, we had coffee, and it was amazing because for the first time, a bad as VC wasn't asking me any questions on like... Market size or go-to-market strategy, he literally was like, Let me get my hands on that little robot I saw. Right. He got it. He got it. We understood. And he's like, This is the coolest thing I've seen in a long time. I'm very interested in this, and you know what, I don't even have the money in the company account.
0:51:15.1 TORREY SMITH: We're still fundraising, VCs are fundraising, just like founders or fundraising, but he said, Why don't you fly on to [unintelligible] and pitch my LP candidates in Spanish. And so, Thank you, Dad, Thank you for taking me to Nicaragua, for leaving me on blankets in Guatemala City. Right, and I would make little figurines and sell them to tourists, because I got on a flight and I flew down there and I pitched in somewhat mangled Spanish. It's been a little while and we made friends, and later that year, Lantana made a big commitment to us, which turned into money in our seed round, and... I'm sorry, money and our angel round and then you know, commitments to our seed round as well, and Ariel and I have become really fast friends, and that could never have happened without this global network, with the Founder Institute, without a venture capital is actually looking for Frontier level technology and being willing to just meet the founder in person and get under the hood, let's open the kimono and see what's actually there, and then with our willingness to just jump on a flight site unseen, knowing the 1% hit rate when I got on that flight, I was expecting it to turn into nothing and to absorb a little bit of flack for going on a wild boondoggle like that, but in the end that...
0:52:44.6 TORREY SMITH: That was a good one. The other one would probably be building one of the world's largest Tesla coils at Burning Man with my founding team years before Endiatx and then years later, having Tesla call us up and say... Elon actually asked for the big Tesla coil from burning man for the Cyber rodeo, and we just said to him like, Look, maybe we can do an expense report at the end, but we don't make our money with Tesla coils, right? Tesla coils are a thing that we do to unite us and to sort of push the limits of what we can do with electrical engineering, the mechanical engineering, the back set up, we would be honored to attend and participate... Simply to be among like-minded people. And so we drove across the country, that was like a three-day drive to all the Tesla coil out and to being able to see the Giga Texas factory and tour and meet some of the people who are making that possible at the highest level was pretty incredible. And from that, we've been able to make some really cool connections, and like I said, I think the company has a bright future, but the bottom line is, sometimes you have an opportunity to step out into the unknown, and I think hauling a giant Tesla coil to Texas.
0:54:09.3 TORREY SMITH: So we arrived at the Cambria Hotel in Austin, Texas, with $165 in the bank account. Alright, that's what commitment means to us, we decided we would be there, right, so we decided to do it, even though it was at the extreme of what was possible, it was an absolutely extremely unlikely thing for us to do something like that, but we knew we needed to be there because we had friends that we needed to make
0:54:41.1 TIM DOUGHERTY: It, and so did you get to be... So did you get to meet Elon?
0:54:45.7 TORREY SMITH: But I was feeling a little self-conscious 'cause we're losing about 20% to 30% on that Tesla coil right now in terms of the voltage up top, I don't know why, but it's not as angry as it should be, and I was just like, I don't know, I don't wanna push for that if I'm bringing a wimpy version of my Tesla coil one year, but we did have some interesting conversations with some folks, there might be an opportunity to install a permanent one, and again, what we say is, Look this is not how we make our money, we're just honored to be friends with people like this, because what I was able to say consistently to some of the circle was just, thanks to the work done by the teams over at Tesla and Space X. I don't think anyone can look me square in the face and tell me that my dream of micro-robotic surgeons and the human body is impossible, because all I have to do is say, Well, what would you have said to Elon? Three years before he landed that rocket, him and Gwynne in the entire space X Team.
0:55:50.1 TORREY SMITH: Right. What I love about Elon as he knows the value of the team he's built, he's a figure head, but no one's gonna say He did that alone to... This is the work of inspired teams.
0:56:02.0 TIM DOUGHERTY: You've got some interesting college colleagues, and they've got interesting backgrounds, tell us about them and how you came together and what their contributions have been, you mentioned James you co-founder. Sure.
0:56:19.9 TORREY SMITH: Well, my phone that just ran would be a Dr. Alex Luke, he's known as Maverick. In certain circles, he’s been a mentor to me for quite some time, we've been working very closely for more than eight years, I believe this... Alex or Dr. Luke or maverick, he's from the Google X world. He's been high up in the moonshot factory for many years, and he's our chairman and currently acting CTO managing our deep tech stack. James Erd his nickname is heavy metal, and the reason for that is that James has more than 60000 pounds of machine tools that he and I have collected in our Oakland warehouse, like when I say we make robots. That orange box over there is where we 3D print them, and we've got the warehouse in Oakland where we machine the polycarbonate nose comes, we're down to 178 microns on the wall thickness of that Polycom, which is... That's about 7000 7 inch. About two sheets of paper. It's a very, very thin nose cone, when people say hardware is hard, they don't have James Erd and his arsenal of equipment and his lifetime of knowledge doing crazy weird stuff. I feel that having a best friend like James, me as more of the aero or a mechanical style engineer, him as the gnarly machine as you ever saw, you put us together and you have a super hero, you tear apart and you have two lonely guys...
0:57:55.6 TORREY SMITH: Right. That's how our team works. Just together. We are super heroes. And then I have to say for our CTO emeritus, our co-founder, Dan Mayer, Dan is the electrical engineering and computer engineering genius who worked with us to envision how you would stuff that much electronics off the shelf electronics into a package. This small, Dan received an offer from Worchester Polytechnic to go pursue a PhD in robotics, which is where it is now. But rumor has it, he might spend some time at the Giga Texas site this summer, so I think as a designer of that giant Tesla coil, I think his skills might be... It might be needed over the summer break, so that's your technical team, but then on the medical side, we would be completely... We wouldn't be anywhere, we'd be sitting on my living room couch espousing our robot pills to no one if it wasn't for the doctors involved. Right. So number one on the list, we have to say Dr. Kumbhari just... He is the youngest Chief of Gastroenterology at Mayo Clinic by more than 20 years now. This guy is 39 years old. Last time I checked, maybe he's had a birthday, he's younger than I am, and he is just relentlessly fiercely passionate about advancing the state of the art for the technology that can help his patients.
0:59:28.6 TORREY SMITH: He told us that he had seen a seminar years ago where people showed the dream of tiny robots in the body, and when we became friends, he said, You know what, I think this is the chance, this is our chance together to make this thing real. And that's why being such close friends with him has been huge... Dr. Hay out of King's College, London. They represent after Johns Hopkins, the number, the institution in the world after Mayo, and this depends on what list you got there, the are top of institutions. Boo, who's saying, Hey, Dr. Hey, Boo has just been the warmest, kindest presence, he was the first premier level gastroenterologist to really believe in us and to start putting his own career in... His own name and reputation on the line for this dream. And that's why, that's why He's intimately involved with this as well, and then finally... I've started to say it, but we have a bit of a knuckle head doctor on the team as well. A lieutenant colonel Benjamin Bonnes is an ER doc, Johns Hopkins Shock Trauma, and now he's at Kaiser Oakland. He's a flight surgeon with the 144, the same folks that deployed over the Ukraine over the last number of years and trained up those Ukrainian pilots who are doing so well now, the 144th is the ones that trained them, Ben’s their flight surgeon, and then knuckle head is my older brother and, once in a while, I asked him why he chose the 144th, 'cause they're in Fresno and we're in the Bay Area, 'cause he could have gone to Moffett, and he whispered to me, he's like Torrey Fresno
1:01:05.7 TORREY SMITH: those have two seats, so he will text me, look up, and I'll look up and he'll just tear over in 15, and apparently, they call him self-loading baggage, but he's a private pilot and they give them being sick time from the back seat apparently. Yeah, all they were doing the fighter maneuvers over Big Sir recently, they hit the tanker five times, and this guy is just having the time of his life, so what we're trying to do with Dr. Bonnes, my big brother is, we're trying to take this technology beyond just the world of Gastroenterology, right. We think this is appropriate for forward deployed medicine for refugee camps, for military basis, we think it's appropriate for the developing world, we also think it's appropriate for this new place, space medicine. And so I'm actually working pretty hard to try to get people to test these robots on one of the inspiration missions, I'm trying very hard to get in touch with Jarred Isaacman who's... Who's been working with St. Jude, because Jared says that he wants to expand the St. Jude mission using telemedicine. He wants to take what St.
1:02:28.1 TORREY SMITH: Jude does for children in their hospitals all around the world, it's just this beautiful vision, Jarred wants to help kids all around the world, and he wants to do it using telemedicine, and so that's kind of where we wanna meet people like that and show them that these inexpensive little robot pills can potentially be this piercing strong telemedicine that can sort of push through all the funk that people have experienced. I really think as we start to close out, I had a chance to speak briefly with Linda Avey from 23 and Me when we were at the cyber rodeo, and Linda basically looked me in the eyes and said that her vision is to use technology, biotechnology, medical technology, to basically create a fundamentally new deal for the human population in this next century, if we look back 100 years, we look at a lot of scarcity-defined politics, we look at different populations and conflict with each other, we look at different economic and social classes in conflict with each other, I think if we look forward 100 years, we might be building a very different global society, there is a concept of abundance that Peter Diamandis speaks to frequently.
1:03:51.5 TORREY SMITH: That is pretty exciting. I think if we work together, we can probably use technology and other things to make an awesome world. I'm really excited to be doing this, and honestly, I think for 15 minutes, people might think we're pretty cool with this technology, maybe for a couple of years, if we're lucky, will be relevant, and you'll think of Endiatx and the founders as these great people, but honestly, if we fast forward just five or 10 years, I think you're gonna start to see this look like an obvious thing, and then a relic, as we get smaller and smaller in my goal is to be become a dinosaur as quickly as possible, so I can sort of step out of the way, let some other people take the limelight, fund them, encourage them and keep that progress going forward.
1:04:44.1 TIM DOUGHERTY: Well, the really exciting thing I think is that just take healthcare, healthcare is 20% of GDP. And as we said earlier in our conversation, there's a lot of waste, unnecessary waste in the system, and to the extent that we can limit that or get rid of it completely, think about how many dollars are freed up to do other things.
1:05:19.6 TORREY SMITH: It’s dollars, time and health and lifespan that some of the patients that we interviewed, people I won't name but close friends, six visits to the hospital 12 months of their life, and she basically spent 12 months of her life in terrible gastric distress, unable to really function professionally, artistically, she is amazing. Professional work, artistic work, she lost a year because the current state of healthcare wasn't able to diagnose her with gastritis and get that not cured, but managed, effectively managed. We think for patients like that, all that cost and all that waste in time and all those ways that heart beats, we think we can make rapid early diagnosis. Right. I don't think we need to make a device that truly replaces the endoscope, not yet, we need to make a device that rapidly diagnoses, say like 80% of the issues or gives those negative results, so you can then move on to the next decision tree, and then say the 15 to 20% of patients where you do find something, well, let's find it months or even years earlier, and then let's skip all the hoopla, let's swallow the robot pill be like, Oh, oh, that does look bad, I do want a sample of that.
1:06:51.2 TORREY SMITH: You're getting an endoscopy tomorrow, right. And skip all that funk, right? And I think if you just look at the wasted dollars, there's a huge opportunity, but it goes beyond that when we look at the human factors...
1:07:05.5 TIM DOUGHERTY: So let's talk about something else. And on a really fun note, how does an aerospace engineer end up with art at the Smithsonian? How does that happen?
1:07:19.8 TORREY SMITH: It's pretty humble. The piece of art is just a map. It's a map of the study of Burning Man, Black Rock City. And I did that piece of jewelry out of a water jet, copper and stainless steel, did some machining, got into IRIS mechanisms. What I do is I take things that are really intimidating to me because I'm scared of so many things... This map of the city of Burning Man, it's a planetary gear box. It's basically a geared geared Toy, and the reason that I got into making handheld planetary gear boxes is that I'm an engineer and I was literally intimidated by planetary gears, it was like gears within gears and suns and planets and internal gears and just... I was afraid of them. For some reason, I was just having trouble getting it, and when I discovered a maker space, it was called Tech Shop at the time, I realized I could go in and laser cut and start playing with the things that freak me out, and just over time, you start to get this intuitive grasp, lean into the thing that scares you. And eventually you make friends with it, and so I ended up making jewelry, I ended up getting dragged to Burning Man, it was the last place I wanted to go, because I felt like I'd been sort of raised in Burning Man, and so I was actually trying to go in the opposite direction, but when my friend Gene dragged me to Burning Man, I started to see the scale of the art and the scale of the ambition that would be Dr.
1:09:03.4 TORREY SMITH: Luke, trying to bring in... And I started to realize, this is actually... This is actually relevant, this is something I would like to do. And basically, let's see how far we can push it, and pretty quickly, we found a theme camp, we started building giant Tesla coils, and from there on out to... We got invited to the Smithsonian, and most of our first investors here at Endiatx were people that start work out on plan
1:09:37.8 TIM DOUGHERTY: Really. Well, that's just the whole thing is fascinating. You're fascinating, Torrey, on the standpoint of, here's an aerospace engineer who's learned how to commandeer his fears and redirect them to all of these very valuable pursuits. It's why we do the podcast, and I thank you for taking the time to join us today.
1:10:07.6 TORREY SMITH: Thank you so much, Tim, I really appreciate it.
1:10:10.6 TIM DOUGHERTY: Great, well, I look forward to hearing more about your journey and the journey of Pillbot toward the towards success. Thanks, Torrey.
Thanks for tuning in to the life sciences and biotech podcast. We'll see you in the next episode.
About Tim Dougherty
Tim is an investment advisor representative in Atlanta, GA and the host of the Life Science and Biotech CEO stories podcast. He has been an active investor in the life sciences since the mid-1990’s. His interest originated with research coverage of a private equity investment of Cambridge, MA based Ariad Pharmaceuticals (acquired in 2017 by Takeda for $5.2 billion), while working at a small family office/hedge fund, during that period.
His enthusiasm grew in the years since the financial crisis, as easy monetary policy provided ample liquidity to fund biotechnology research at exactly the time when digital advances would accelerate the pace and efficacy of that research.
About Torrey Smith
Torrey Smith is the Co-Founder & CEO of Endiatx, a medical robotics company that manufactures tiny robotic pills capable of active movement inside the human stomach with control over internet protocol. Prior to launching Endiatx, he developed medical devices in the areas of endometrial ablation, atherectomy, therapeutic hypothermia, sleep apnea, and vascular closure. An aerospace engineer by training, he takes a keen interest in the deep tech sector, and is a proud mentor of up-and-coming founders at the Founder Institute. He is also the principal founder of the international arts collective known as Sextant, and he has had his art featured in the Smithsonian.
The information contained in this website and podcast are purely informational and not considered investment recommendations. Tim Dougherty’s participation in Biotech Insights is separate and apart from his role as an investment advisor representative. Nothing contained herein may be construed as a recommendation or endorsement of any of the companies discussed. Tim Dougherty has no financial affiliation with any of the companies mentioned in this communication. Tim Dougherty makes no representation that the information conveyed in this material is accurate and is under no obligation to update this information as changes occur.
Podcast transcript is altered and may not reflect original recording