A company founded and run by Jindal School alumnus Dr. Peter Baek has won the $33,000 grand prize in the Penfolds Max’s “Maximum Funding” startup competition.
Vigilant Labels, based out of the Venture Development Center at The University of Texas at Dallas, offers a product that improves patient safety and expedites required anesthesia syringe label printing that integrates with electronic medical record software systems.
Culminating at the end of 2017, the competition, run by Australian wine producer Penfolds, celebrated the innovative spirit of Max Schubert, credited as the pioneer of the Australian wine industry. The contest had two phases. The first consisted of a panel of experts from various technology and business firms who selected 10 finalists from more than 100 entrants. The top 10 then underwent a social media voting campaign that determined the three winners.
“Going through this exercise helped us develop as a company,” said Baek, whose business interests naturally followed from his career as an anesthesiologist who earned an MS from the Jindal School’s Healthcare Leadership and Management for Physicians program in 2014. “We had to become more active in social media, and as a startup company, I’ve come to recognize the value of social media in helping small companies like mine have a platform and voice. We recently were contacted on LinkedIn by a company that is interested in distributing our product in the Middle East.”
Baek plans to use the winnings to increase the company’s marketing efforts — especially in the social media realm — and to strengthen company infrastructure.
“This funding will enable us to firm up some of the foundational work that we had established early on,” he said.
Baek also will be able to make sure that everything is in place in terms of the company’s ability to scale and get investors interested.
“As an entrepreneur, one of the key benefits to being a UT Dallas alum is access to the VDC and the Blackstone LaunchPad,” he said. “they are helping me define the vision for growth and guiding me to make sure that everything looks good not only now, but five or 10 years from now — and that we have an exit strategy.”
Right now, he envisions the company growing large enough to have somebody run it full-time while he continues in his anesthesiology practice and pursues other entrepreneurial opportunities.
“As an entrepreneur and an engineer, I enjoy solving problems,” he said. “I recognize that my core competency is not in running a company. That is where my business partner, Jeff Fountaine, and the VDC and Blackstone Launchpad, with their multiple layers of support, have been instrumental in guiding me as I grow.”
Fountaine currently runs company operations while Baek focuses on the medical aspects and product development.
“Jeff knows the business side, and he has many contacts in the hospital IT space,” he said. “As business partners, we complement one another very well.”
The company recently signed agreements with medical distributors that will allow Vigilant Labels to maintain a lean headquarters operation while having nationwide teams of sales representatives. As the company continues to grow, Baek remains excited about the possibility of increasing its market share in healthcare workflow optimization and compliance management — a field that has captured only 5 percent of the market.
“The demand is out there,” he said. “In terms of what the product does, I think we’ve hit upon the right formula. It’s a great system in terms of patient safety, improving medical compliance, and it is convenient to implement without interrupting the end-user’s workflow.”
— Jimmie R. Markham