About DEBS SIMPSON
Bio: Deborah Simpson is an expert in directing both the financial and marketing strategic and developmental growth for medical device company startups.
Deborah has taken 12 companies from start-up to a successful public offering IPO (2) and 10 acquisitions. Her roles ranged from CEO to CFO to COO and board member on more than $1 billion worth of M&A transactions with companies such as Adaptec (IPO), ARGO Systems (instrumental in getting this sold to Boeing for over $1B), Auspex (IPO), and Kalpana (Sold to Cisco for $250M).
NASA invited Deborah to be on their incubator board which she served from 1995-2004. During that time she was involved in launching the first 9 months of eBay.
Prior to Gatekeeper Innovation, Deborah was a partner, CEO, COO & CFO of The Brenner Group focusing on helping startups that were funded by VCs. She and the team strategically helped them find their ideal market and acted as their C suite level executives for launch and created an average growth rate of 500%. She was also in charge of recruiting and managing all 60 members of the Brenner Group.
Due to her mathematical background, Deborah was the first member of the worldwide high technology team at Arthur Andersen to help startups succeed. She managed tax and consulting engagements for high technology companies and raised more than $50 million in public offerings. She was featured in the Wall Street Journal on the management skills need for a successful startup.
Deborah graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a B.B.A. in accounting and earned her Certified Public Accountant title in 1987.
Bio source: Gatekeeper Innovation
Alan Olsen: I’m visiting here today with Debs Simpson. We’re at the global impact conference here and welcome to today’s show.
Debs Simpson: It’s just so exciting to be here. And thank you for having me.
Alan Olsen: So Debs, your serial entrepreneur, which you’ve done many, many different things in life, but why don’t you give for the listeners your quick background and what brought you up to where you are today?
Debs Simpson: Well, you know, it’s kind of ironic that I’m been in technology for so long. I am a mathematician by background. And I started at Procter and Gamble in Cincinnati, Ohio, believe it or not, and did consumer products. And then my husband got a transfer out to the west coast. And I just got very blessed lucky early in my career and became the first member of the worldwide technology team for Arthur Andersen. Now, that sounds really great. But the reality is, I was a sacrificial lamb. And the at that time, there was a lot of bankruptcies going on. And so what they did is they, you know, I went out and I was instructed to go to the board meetings and meet with all the executive staff of various startups. And, and, and when they screwed up on my six pages to list I was to raise hell the board meetings. And or, you know, help them along before the board meeting, so that we didn’t have that conversation. Just, you know, at 22 years old, just a tremendous opportunity, you just don’t get those kind of opportunities. So I think, you know, luck was on my side. Yeah, watching over me. And I have had nothing but absolute fun. I can say technology, I can’t say Silicon Valley is very different from Sacramento, Silicon Valley moves at a different pace, I can get technology help a lot faster, there. But the people here are just so much. They’re so warm, and they’re so compassionate, Jack Crawford impacts is just a rock star. Everyone here is incredibly supportive, the entrepreneurial energy is here. And it’s up and coming. You know, I mean, with the startups that I’m working with, we have Gatekeeper Innovation, which basically helps with the opiate crisis, it’s, it’s basically locking up your medication, and a powerful, it has a tremendous impact, I do have a lot invested in that company. But that’s, um, it’s not your typical medical device company, like I’m used to with the very, very high multiples, it’s more like a, you know, in the 10x, or so although I think every investment banker would probably tell me something different. But I’m just a tremendous community. And there’s just so much happening here. And the money is starting to come in, you know, impact ventures, other venture capital firms, there’s a lot of incubators, of which I volunteer and help because that’s my passion is helping entrepreneurs. And, and we just have a lot of fun.
Alan Olsen: Well Debs, you know, one of the unique abilities you talked about your early days with Arthur Andersen and then doing “triage” or helping at the board meaning here`, but but over the over the course of years, you learn how to really help entrepreneurs scale their companies, and not only help the entrepreneurs, but also lead companies to
Debs Simpson: Exactly
Alan Olsen: And I’ve heard a rumor that you’ve done multiple Xs?
Debs Simpson: So far, I’ve had 14, I’ve been a part of 14 Xs And I don’t take credit for anything. It’s a tough entire team effort.
Alan Olsen: Oh, my gosh okay. Yeah.
Debs Simpson: And two of them are IPOs that those were in the 80s. Although I have had two medical device companies go public, one ProSet, which is public knowledge. The other one, I think, is still in the quiet period. But plus a billion dollar valuations on incredible companies. I was one of the original founding. Investors,
Alan Olsen: You know, there, there’s the entrepreneurs or the founders often have trouble transitioning to, to allowing their company to scale to larger size because pride of ownership or just holding on too long. What advice would you have for an individual wanting to go big?
Debs Simpson: You know, I’d like to say it takes a different skill set completely. I believe every time a company’s hit $100 million, we’ve replaced the CEO. And I think that’s effective with all it takes a totally different skill set. But you know, the entrepreneurial energy it’s so funny because I’m emotional, because I get very attached and I’m very devoted to the startups that I work with. And as as an entrepreneur, I, I want to help them a lot. I can give you a really good example. I’m an entrepreneur had a traimit just what I thought was a huge opportunity. And so the first thing you do is dig into the market size. And so you have to coach the entrepreneur on is the market big enough to survive. No Gatekeeper Innovation, which is the opia company that was a new market, new experience. No analysts, now we have analysts very, I would say it was painful. But we have Kevin Kane running it now. And he’s a rock star. He is helping with the opiate crisis. Nate Langley, our VP business development, came fresh out of college. And he’s amazing, too. So advice for entrepreneurs, there’s nothing more powerful than the ups and downs that you’re going to experience, the downs are very down, they’re very painful. But the ups, you know, it’s it’s actually an addiction. You know, I mean, I don’t want to say that, because, you know, I deal with addiction with opiates and stuff, but the highs and the lows that you get from technology companies, is an addiction. And it’s incredibly fun, if you know what you’re doing. But you do have to, in many cases, the entrepreneur has to step aside. And they have to understand that that is the way to scale. You know, that is the way somebody that’s been there done it now that a startup comes at the most risk when it changes to a different CEO. And so it’s a very delicate balance, and I blown it, sorry, I have in the past, you know, through replacement, but it’s all about, you know, for me, I do everything with a social costs. You know, I’m a see Medics, which is an incredible company technology that my group CS group bought. And it basically will transform the cardiac healthcare market it really well, because it is a scan that uses AI, fluid management, bioimpedance and radio frequency, I’ve made all my money, pretty much of medical radio frequency devices, utilizing the blood is the conduit throughout the body to create, you know, to fix your knees, etc. And this is a non invasive scan that replaces the swan ganz catheter. And just a simple scan. You know, we have significant interest investors, I’ve only introduced two to two. And, but it’s just, it needs to come to market. So social purpose is very, very important to me. I work because it’s fun, I don’t work for money. Because I guess in some ways, I’m a little bit different. Because I’m generous with employees, I always have the file policy, that when a company sells for an extra $50 million if you sell that to your venture capital firm, they don’t like this. You’re going to not change their IOY, you know, 1% or something. But $50 million changes a lot entrepreneurs lives. And so driving that ownership to the entrepreneur and protecting those entrepreneurs, it’s just really important to me.
Alan Olsen: So Debs, how does a person go about reaching you if they want to, you know, check in for mentorship, I know you’re very very popular. Do you have a website? Or do you have a way to…
Debs Simpson: Well, you know, I do answer my emails, and it’s email@example.com D. Simpson. And I do respond to all that. And also another way to is to call me Deb’s because if you call me Debbie or Deborah said they don’t know me.
Alan Olsen: Well, Debs, I appreciate you being with us today.
Debs Simpson: Well, I just want to thank you for this exposure. And thank you for supporting impact in such amazing way because you know, it’s an amazing organization and actually is really going to help put Sacramento on the map and actually save lives and help society across the board. So I’m very excited to be here.
Alan Olsen: Thank you. Thank you.
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