Q&A with Maureen L. Mulvihill, PhD – Founder & CEO of Actuated Medical, Inc.
Actuated Medical, Inc. (AMI) is known for its innovative TubeClear system, a medical device that allows clinicians to maintain flow of feeding tubes in patients who cannot eat orally. But when COVID hit, President & CEO Maureen Mulvihill knew she needed to act quickly to keep the business going and her team employed.
In just one week, her 20-person team created a production line for face shields to meet the needs of first responders, including emergency medical services, nursing homes, local police, and more. Now their line of face shields has grown to support the general public and other workers, with small size for kids, shields for hard hats, and shields for football helmets.
In June 2020, Actuated Medical competed in the finals of the WBENCPitch Pivot tournament. This blog is part of a series highlighting the women entrepreneurs who pivoted their businesses and stepped outside of the box to create or offer products, services, and solutions that fill supply chain gaps during the COVID-19 pandemic. WBENC is proud to tell the stories of these incredible women business owners and showcase their resilience and innovation.
Read our Q&A with Maureen Mulvihill on how she pivoted so quickly, what she has learned about her leadership style, and what’s next for Actuated Medical.
How was your business impacted by COVID-19?
As a medical device manufacturer, sales cycles are already long in hospitals. When COVID-19 hit, hospitals stopped nearly all non-essential purchasing – including products like the TubeClear system. It was nearly impossible to get sales appointments, virtually or by phone, as clinicians were busy focusing on caring for COVID patients. All progress toward market acceptance of the TubeClear system came to a sudden stop.
How did you pivot your business to survive and thrive through this crisis?
After a quick look at our network and supply chain, we decided we could make face shields to support first responders during the pandemic while also keeping our team fully employed. In just one week, we launched a manufacturing line and started shipping out face shields to emergency medical services (EMS), nursing homes, local police, and more.
What have you learned about yourself and your leadership style throughout this process?
I have always been a leader that delegates and gives team members the responsibility and authority to move projects forward. But with Covid, I had to consider the health and safety of the team while still keeping the business going. I had figure out how to be more open and lead with the energy and vision so that the team was enthusiastic to give 120%. It’s not easy, but it’s working.
What’s next for your business?
Our face shield line has grown to include a small size (for younger kids), shields for hard hats that flip up out of the way when needed, and shields that attach to football helmets. We keep watching the emerging needs as the pandemic continues and are ready to pivot our face shield line of business as appropriate.
The TubeClear system is not out of the game just yet. As everyone adjusts to a new normal, clogged feeding tubes are still out there. We’re ready to support our hospital customers as they figure out their new normal. We are still engaging with our external sales distributors so that they know we are here to support them as they are allowed to enter into hospitals.
Additionally, our medical device development supported by small business innovation research (SBIR) grants continues. We have over 12 products currently being developed by our dedicated team of engineers and scientists, with more lining up to the pipeline.
What piece of advice would you give to other women business owners or aspiring business owners on how to best navigate a crisis?
It takes a village. Our world is really small so be honest, work hard and strive to make a difference, people will see that you are trying and support you to grow your business. Being a business owner is like a rollercoaster. There are a lot of highs and lows. I wish every business owner more highs than lows so that you will enjoy your journey.
How has being a WBENC-Certified WBE helped during this crisis?
Being certified has helped us gain exposure and credibility in new markets. It has also helped in our business-to-consumer marketing, as our face shields are proudly made in the US by a woman-owned company with US-sourced materials. Our largest customer found us on the WBENC Covid-portal. We are now the ‘go to’ face shield supplier to that company. Thanks to WBENC.