If you’re given the opportunity to do something you’ve never done before and your personal knowledge can help in developing the product or idea, I would say ‘yes’ to the project. You never know what’s going
to work. —Thomas Carroll, MD
Explore This IssueDecember 2019
ENTtoday: If you had known at the beginning of the process what you know now, what would you have done differently?
TC: I think I would have been more on top of the patent for the material itself.… I probably could have done more to protect myself from that standpoint. But, in some ways, I don’t regret it because it really was a learning experience, and it was just a great opportunity for me to learn how entrepreneurship works.… As I went through the catheter development process, I was much more on top of that aspect of things.
ENTtoday: What’s the biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome with Silk Voice?
TC: There was a slowdown for a period of time in terms of funding. Sofregen was waiting for some capital, and they had to do their part to ensure their success.
Honestly, I’m more worried about the next steps, which are more on me in some ways, because I feel like the application of material in humans is going to be the biggest hurdle. We have FDA clearance, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be a successful product necessarily. It means that we have to see safety and efficacy in humans; then we have to see how long the product effects last in humans. Hopefully, the catheter that I helped develop really does what we want it to do. There are highly respected colleagues of mine coming out of the woodwork saying, ‘You know I tried something like this years ago, and I don’t think it’s going to work as well as you think it will.’ It just puts a little bit of doubt out there that it’s not going to do all that we want it to do despite improvements in older designs. I just stay positive and continue to work toward a better design.
ENTtoday: What’s the most strategic point in a career to try a venture like yours?
TC: No matter when you jump in, it’s going to be a learning process because you’ve never done it before. And I decided to just jump in right at the beginning.
I don’t regret much of starting early because I’ve learned some of the terminology and what the entrepreneur and the inventor side, as opposed to the physicians, are going to deal with or have questions about. So my personal take is: Go for it. If you’re given the opportunity to do something you’ve never done before and your personal knowledge can help in developing the product or idea, I would say ‘yes’ to the project. You never know what’s going to work.