MedTech POV Blog

Combat Veteran, CEO and Veterans Advocate Derek Herrera Talks with AdvaMed’s Scott Whitaker on Pursuing New Missions in MedTech 

Derek Herrera leads Bright Uro Inc., a company developing better diagnostics for urinary tract conditions, and MedTechVets, a non-profit connecting military veterans with medtech companies for employment. Paralyzed from the chest down in combat in Afghanistan, Herrera applies his Marines training to new ventures. He joined the most recent episode of the MedTech POV podcast to share his insights. 

Lesson One: Adapt to Circumstances 

Herrera explains how Marines take pride in their adaptability. On the battlefield, in postings with ever-varied conditions, Marines assess the situation, think critically, and solve problems. 

Upon being wounded and emerging paralyzed, Herrera considered what he was uniquely positioned to do. He realized spinal injuries cause complications with urinary retention. He saw how diagnosing urinary conditions can be uncomfortable and unwieldy. He knew that veterans needed guidance in transitioning from public service to the private sector. Using a new MBA, with an idea literally sketched on a napkin, he set out to solve those challenges. 

“My new purpose in life was to try to improve life through innovation. That was the unique advantage that I thought I had: leveraging my own personal experience and turning that into an asset, not a liability.” 

––Derek Herrera, CEO, Bright Uro Inc.; president and chairman, MedTechVets  

Lesson Two: Find Mentors 

People are motivated to create med tech products to help others. The process of creating devices, ensuring their effectiveness, navigating government approval, and more, is daunting, Herrera says. He was grateful to form a friendship with Mike Minogue, chairman, president and chief executive officer of ABIOMED, Inc. and chairman of the AdvaMed board of directors, and credits guidance from Minogue and AdvaMed for helping his evolution from the battlefield to entrepreneurship. 

Lesson Three: Keep Going 

Self-pity bogs down progress. Pushing forward pays tribute to the fellow Marines who saved his life, Herrera says, and those who didn’t survive. His lesson in perseverance and mission focus is one you won’t want to miss. 

For Herrera’s full interview with Whitaker, listen to the latest episode and learn more about the MedTech POV podcast.   

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