Grace Bartoo has operated out of a variety of spaces over the last 12 years. She has rented offices in buildings around the Bay. She has paid month-to-month on a separate house. She has even opened her own home to her 9 employees, giving each a key to her front door as they flowed like a river around her dining room table.
Decus Biomedical is a consulting firm that aids medical device companies as they navigate the complex pathways to appear on the market. The company, based out of Sandbox Suites Berkeley, specializes in product development processes and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearances.
As President and CEO of Decus, Grace first struck inspiration while she was a biomedical engineer working with a pap smear analyzer, the first of its kind in the world. She became involved in running the clinical trials and began negotiating with the FDA to bring the product onto the market. The experience resonated with Grace to the point that she changed her career track from biomedical engineer to regulatory consultant.
“That’s why I like consulting,” Grace says. “I like to see different types of technology, and it gives me and my team the variety you don’t get when you’re working with one product. You have to stay laser focused on one product for years.”
Typical engagements with Grace’s team last anywhere from 3 to 5 years, the employees walking alongside the companies every step of the way. They manage between 7 and 10 companies, each at a different stage but usually early on. Shortly after their arrival, startups are tested for the feasibility of their technology and speak with Decus about commercializing their product. They need help with procedures to document and develop their products so the FDA will accept it onto the market.
In the last decade, Decus has helped more than 80 startups get their bearings. Products they’ve assisted with include digital microscopes, a mammogram computer aided detection system, a cardiac mapping diagnostic device, and a fall prevention device for older citizens when their bodies become unstable. Decus has also aided different types of STD detection devices and an exoskeleton to allow paralyzed people to walk.
“We’re looking to expand and in different ways,” Grace says. “We’re consulting and taking on more clients. Additionally, we have a new model for running internal processes for the company.”
Every new startup has to recreate the internal processes model when it begins. Grace’s team seeks to give them the blueprints of a pre-existing system (the way Intuit will take care of payroll for you, HighRise will manage your client base, etc.) so new teams don’t have to re-invent the wheel.
When it came to selecting a space, Grace and her team found Sandbox Suites to be convenient and brimming with community. None of their previous offices offered the space to meet new people working on different projects side by side. Our professional meeting rooms also provide a sense of quality that might have been lost by meeting at the dining room table of a family home.
“Now that we’re getting bigger and we have more clients to see, I like the flexibility to work without being on top of each other,” Grace says.