Juan José Chacón and his fellow founders of the company Establishment Labs Holdings They usually meet every August to eat pizza that they prepare in an oven that has a special meaning. They do it in a neighborhood to the southwest of the capital of Costa Rica, San José. And the device is the same one used to test the first prototypes of breast implants that ten years later turned the company into the first Costa Rican to be listed on the US Nasdaq market. The company's goal is to transform a global industry that, they say, has not served women in the best possible way. Its shares are up almost 50% since its premiere on the parquet floor last July.
The company, founded in 2008, completed its first decade as a meteorite in the medical device sector, which is growing in small Costa Rica. In the first nine months of 2018, the company's revenues stood at 44.8 million dollars (39 million euros), practically twice as much as in the same period of the previous year. The group continues in losses (10.5 million until September), but these are 61% lower than a year earlier. Establishment Labs has 500 employees working in a 4,500-square-meter building; It reaches 70 countries and now it is advancing studies to soon place its Motiva brand in the United States, to continue competing with the global giants Johnson & Johnson and Allergan.
"This is the story of David against the goliaths", explains from Ecuador Juan José Chacón, son of a couple of doctors who cultivated curiosity about the needs of patients. The weapons of Establishment Labs have been the technological base, the emphasis on the requirements of women rather than those of doctors and the stubbornness of the company in transforming the industry in the world, exalts Chacón. On the horizon it points to a global market for dynamic cosmetic surgery, which grows at a rate of 5% per year, in which breast augmentation is still the most popular operation (1,677,320 interventions in 2017), according to the report of the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
The security chip
It is a huge playground for a company that in its beginnings was established in a garage in the district Pavas (metropolitan area of San José) and that made use of a team made to melt dough with cheese and pepperoni, not for prostheses that Women carry inside their bodies for years. The goal, however, seems credible when you see the company's modern facilities in a special area in El Coyol (province of Alajuela) and hear its founder talk about the implants that are already distributed in 70 countries. Or when you see how the small chips work that women can implant next to the prosthesis to issue information about their status and monitor them from a mobile phone application.
This gives the patient peace of mind about the state of their implants despite the news in this sector about questionable products, adds the businessman as a sign of the emphasis on the needs of the users rather than in the business of medical aesthetics. "The patient has more power before an industry that has not always been up to par," says Chacón. The company also concentrated on designing an ergonomic product that turns out to be the best selling in the world, warns this economist with studies in France and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) proudly.
Foundation. Born in 2008, with the creation of its innovative Motiva implants, Establishment Labs has managed to export to 70 countries.
Bag. On July 19, 2018, it began trading on the second US stock market at $ 18. Today it is worth $ 26.67 per share.
Results. Between January and September of 2018 they were 44.8 million, almost double the previous year. The red numbers in the period were 10.58 million, 61% less than between January and September 2017.
Motiva implants are offered as more flexible and safe, with a textured outer membrane designed with nanotechnology, with sugar-free or salt-free material, and with a surface that allows greater adherence to the body and prevents inconveniences that require corrective surgeries.
"We have the merit that we have believed our potential", answers the CEO of Establishment Labs Holdings every time he receives local recognition for his vision of business and the push to take to larger instances an idea born in 2004. Along with a French partner (Olivier Tourniaire) and a small group of unconditional, in the midst of great funding difficulties to develop this high-tech project, its development came to fruition.
Local financing schemes have not yet been adapted to advanced technology enterprises, despite the fact that the medical device sector accounts for 29% of exports of goods from Costa Rica.
At first they thought about launching the company in China or Brazil, but they considered that the garage of a house was enough for the first experiments. In 2009 they had the prototypes and now Juan José Chacón boasts of his Costa Rican origin. "This is an innovative company born in an innovative country in many ways, from abolishing the death penalty and slavery before all, to bet on public education, build a social security system, abolish the army and now consider the elimination of the carbon footprint. For us, it means a lot to say in what country we were born and what kind of competition we do against other giants, "the director affirms.
The immediate goal of the entrepreneur and his team is to certify the studies before the Food and Drug Administration of the United States (FDA) in order to place the products in the largest market for cosmetic surgery on the planet (20% of the global total), followed by Brazil, where Establishment is already installed.
The final goal, however, is more ambitious and goes beyond competing against the "goliats"; Chacón talks about "transforming the global industry" through technology and the focus on patients, as a purpose with which everyone in the company is committed despite the humble origin. That is the story that continues to conquer investors on Wall Street.