How inQvation helped Cortrium in building an organization

29/09/2020

WE.HELP.ENTREPRENEURS.SUCCEED.

In a nutshell, we don’t just provide a pile of money. We invest wisely and enthusiastically. That’s why we’re not just another venture fund. Nor an accelerator, an incubator or anything else that ends with -or. We want to unleash the full potential of each start-up, and we prefer close cooperation with the individual founder and founder teams. Our approach is HANDS-ON. At inQvation, we assist our portfolio companies in every possible way, from developing high-performing teams to solving complex technical-architecture issues—and everything in between. 

Case Study: Cortrium

In August 2018, inQvation invested in Cortrium, a Danish MedTech company producing state-of-the-art, medically certified, ambulatory ECG monitors. Thanks to his experience and commercial knowledge (see below) our own Karsten Madsen was perfectly suited to work with Cortrium as a Venture Developer, and as part of our investment he was designated Cortrium’s Interim CEO. This was clearly a great combination: Madsen not only knew Cortrium very well, but he had the knowledge and aptitude to manage the commercial agenda and build a strong team. The start-up and its three initial entrepreneurs moved into inQvation’s tech hub, to facilitate the exchange of feedback and advice on both technological and commercial issues.

 

Karsten Madsen, Interim CEO

“Many years ago, I was involved in developing the first portable cardiac defibrillator,” Karsten Madsen explains. “This was back before they hung on the wall. I also happen to have atrial fibrillation myself, so I have firsthand knowledge of what it’s like to wear a holter monitor (not to mention being able to tell you how annoying our competitors’ systems can be, having tried them myself). The combination of this technical knowledge and my experience in growing companies made me a good match for Cortrium.”

In July 2018, two months before the initial investment, Madsen began helping Cortrium navigate a challenging period which was a bit chaotic. Then, signing on full-time in conjunction with inQvation’s investment, he shifted his primary focus to supporting the company’s interaction with Pfizer, a major partner. The Pfizer account came with a lengthy to-do list, which included initiating full production of their product, creating marketing materials, upgrading the website to incorporate an automated, fully documented ordering platform, and a host of other tasks, all with very demanding deadlines. And another thing: A service department needed creating, provided that one minor obstacle could be overcome, namely, that there were no personnel to staff it with! Luckily, inQvation stepped in with a solution, in the form of a German call center already connected with a company in inQvation’s portfolio. The help from the center’s work was well established, and they were able to rapidly train their staff to deliver targeted support for Cortrium’s core customer base in Germany.

Karsten Madsen and co-founder of Cortrium, Erik Poulsen

Bringing the blueprint to life

Structuring and shaping an organization can be a challenge for many start-ups, and Cortrium was no exception. It also faced a critical need to develop a product testing program. On both fronts, inQvation’s help proved vital. According to Karsten Madsen, “One of the most crucial contributions inQvation can make is to guide the development of a start-up from a handful of essential employees to a fully fleshed-out system. They’re good at getting things in order, devising clear strategies, and helping entrepreneurs communicate with investors in a common financial language. But the most valuable help inQvation can offer may be with sales—putting the framework in place for the transition from product developer to sales-driven business.”

In his time as Interim CEO, Karsten Madsen presided over a number of exciting developments. The team grew from three employees to 21, for starters. Cortrium’s reach currently extends to 15 countries, with plans to expand that number by four countries each quarter—a program already underway and already showing results. As of August, more than 25,000 patients had used Cortrium’s heart monitor, and the company now finds itself on the cusp of a new phase, having graduated from the proof-of-concept level to laying the foundation for an agile organizational structure, to operating as a truly scalable business.

A prime mover in that process will be Christian Tost, General Partner and Head of Development at inQvation. “Our mission is to help start-ups succeed,” he says. “We’re there—on the commercial side, but even more importantly on the product, organizational and operations side—from the point when they first start identifying challenges and problems to the point when they’ve established a solid basis for growth. Cortrium has come a long way since we invested. They’ve evolved from simply having a good product to being a great business, and the time when they’ll be ready for scaling is approaching fast: We intend to reach it in the next 12 to 18 months. We will continue to support the company in building an organizational team that is up to the challenge, and through our ongoing contributions to optimizing the sales cycle. Cortrium is a little gem,” Tost adds, “with significant potential that we are here to help capture.” 

Our team of inQvators is always ready and eager to assist our portfolio companies with recruitment, mentoring, talent development and opening new markets.

The journey has only just begun.

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