Learning to Pivot: DTX Launch Grads EnBiologics

EnBiologics is the perfect example of a pivot. The three Wayne State University biomedical engineering graduate students who make up the team– Gregory Apers, Sean Carrol and Ramy Habib–began exploring their idea for a medical hydrogel for human burn treatment last summer in the DTX Launch Detroit student accelerator. After developing their business model, conducting customer discovery and defining their value proposition, they recognized that the road to FDA approval—and thus to profit– was very long. Less so, though, for a veterinary product. So now, the trio is refining HoneyCure—the first scientifically proven, honey-based, all-natural veterinary wound care product. As winners of the On the Mark award at the DTX Launch 2015 showcase, EnBiologics was awarded a spot in the TechTown Business Incubator, where they continue to move HoneyCure forward.They are focusing on the equine market to start, as further customer discovery has revealed this market holds the most initial promise.

Who founded EnBiologics and why?

Ramy: Sean and I had a part in it. A year ago we did a medical class for engineers and as part of it, Sean would do observations for surgeries. One of the observations was at a hospital where there was a burn patient.

Sean: We had to do dressing changes in the ICU, and it was archaic to say the least as to how they were doing the dressing changes. Most of those dressing changes were based on 1950s technology.

What led you from this to veterinary care?

Ramy: The human track to approval is painful. We have to go through a lot of clinical trials, FDA approvals, we have to file a lot of applications, and doing that with federal bureaucracy can take almost four years.

Sean: It can take seven years at its most painful.

Ramy: And as a small company, we won’t be able to withstand it with no revenue coming in. And we’re fresh out of college so we have debt.

Sean: It costs a couple million dollars to do, and we don’t have that kind of money lying around.

Gregory: Also, with the veterinary track, there aren’t nearly as many regulations. While you still have to communicate with the FDA, it’s less about getting approved and more about acknowledging that we exist.

Where do you plan on taking this venture?

Sean: We have been going to events in the local area to market the product and build a following. We’re building research data behind our product and are actively making a brand for ourselves. HoneyCure will be the first natural brand backed by scientific research and made available on a large scale. As we get research and sales results back, it will help us move forward in the veterinary markets and plan for how we expand further and whether we expand back into the human markets.

Applications for the DTX Launch Detroit 2017 student accelerator are open through April 7. Read more about the program here