Last fall French pharmaceutical company Sanofi and Boston-area medical device maker Agamatrix announced plans to bring to market a glucose monitor, the iBGStar Jazz Nugget, which plugs into the iPhone. While the Nugget has yet to secure FDA clearance, it is already available in Europe and a US launch seems imminent.
That's why it comes as something of a surprise that Agamatrix co-founder and chairman Sonny Vu is leaving the company.
In a recent interview with MobiHealthNews, Vu stressed that his departure was his decision: "I'm really careful to tell people that I'm not leaving to 'focus on my family' since every person that has left a company for that reason probably left because of gross incompetence or because they were ill. I'm going leave to start my own thing."
Agamatrix is currently on a very clear execution path that no longer requires Vu's direct guidance, he said. Agamatrix's priorities right now are threefold: Constructing a new sensor factory, fulfilling its partnership duties with Sanofi, and scaling up their business. Vu said that as of late he's been the lead recruiter for the company and the team Agamatrix now has in place is "awesome."
Vu's co-founder and current CTO Sridhar Iyengar will take the helm now that Vu has stepped down. Iyengar will also eventually leave the company in the coming years. "We're always going to work together; we're like a proton and neutron, we can't be separated. Once he's finished with his responsibilities, he'll likely come work with me," Vu said.
Iyengar and Vu are still smarting from missing the dotcom boom, while their classmates and friends went on to create PayPal, Apache and others.
"We totally missed the big internet boom," Vu said. "We're not going to miss the mobile health one. It's rare that you get to stand at the edge of a big wave and know that it's going to come and have the chance to decide if you're going to join in or not. We're going to do it. I'm not missing this revolution."
Vu is taking some time off -- his first true "unplugged" vacation in years -- before figuring out his next startup. Vu and Iyengar will continue to jointly own a fifth of Agamatrix, but he won't hold any formal employee or board positions since he wanted to have a "clean cut" from the company.
Vu believes that mobile health companies that only offer software or services will have trouble getting early revenue compared to those with an anchor reimbursement product. To back up his assertion, Vu claims that Agamatrix is one of the first mobile health companies to earn more than $50 million in annual revenue, thanks in part to a recurring revenue stream.
"If there was anything I learned doing mobile health for Agamatrix, it's that healthcare needs to be invisible. You've got to slip it in -- like slipping vegetables into blended food for kids."
Stay tuned for more on Agamatrix's iPhone Nugget and Vu's new startup in the coming months.