Quick Launch: Tapping a Rich Vein

Getting started in a tough market with a brand new product presents challenges beyond those of sales and marketing. When a company reaches out for help in manufacturing and distribution, and picks those who are well grounded in the necessary disciplines, the results can be amazing. That's the experience of Memphis, Tenn.-based Luminetx Technologies Corp. (www.luminetx.com), which has gone from having a prototype of its initial product to a multimilliondollar success in just 18 months.

The company's end customers are in consumer healthcare markets. Included in this target market, says its senior v.p. for business development, Dana Capocaccia, are hospitals, doctor's offices, clinics, blood drawing centers, oncology services, and dialysis services— anyplace that uses vascular access for therapy, whether it's for drawing blood, starting an IV, giving antibiotics or chemotherapy.

The first product offering from Luminetx is its VeinViewer. In many patients veins can be difficult to find and access. The VeinViewer identifies veins and projects their location directly onto the skin. As the tag line on the company's web site says, "Don't Stick in Vain. Stick in Vein."

"Many consumers experience trauma and pain associated with repeated attempts for one successful access," says Capocaccia. "In fact, many times it's not the therapy that's the problem. It's getting access that creates the over-riding emotional baggage."

He points to national statistics indicating that the pain associated with catheter insertion is the number two complaint of patients. The number one complaint is time spent in hospital emergency departments.

While the technology was developed by biomedical engineers, the real forward impetus for Luminetx came when its current chairman and CEO, James Phillips, joined the company and jumpstarted its business model. As Capcaccia details, "We manufacture in Chicago with a contract manufacturer and have all of our production and warehousing outsourced. Customer service, research and development, sales, marketing, regulatory and other business functions are here in our Memphis offices."

Critical to the company's early success is its ability to draw on the wide range of services offered by its freight forwarder, Mallory Alexander (Memphis, Tenn.-www.mallorygroup.com).

"They pick the product up from the manufacturer and warehouse it for us," explains Capocaccia. "They then take our instructions and deliver the product to our end customer, without it ever leaving their control. That is extremely important to us."

The forwarder is a true a partner for Luminetx in transporting the delicate equipment without loss prevention, says Capocaccia. "We need competent providers, such as Mallory, to handle the movement of the product from our world class manufacturing facility to our technology-savvy and astute customers."

VeinViewer employs optical technology, microscope-quality lens configurations, reflectance mirrors and rapid computerization skills. Due to the delicate nature of the instrument's components, packaging and handling are of the utmost importance. As suggested by Mallory, shock detectors are located both inside and out of the shipping carton.

"Mallory was the only provider able to fulfill these needs on a consistent basis," claims Capocaccia. "We can't have dirty or defective product delivered to our customers. We can't have unprofessional delivery personnel dealing with our customers. We have to make sure our customers are extremely pleased with the delivery person, the quality of the product when it gets delivered and that it is not handled inappropriately. It is a scientific piece of equipment that needs to be handled with kid gloves."

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