Camras Vision | Durham, NC
Q: Describe your business:
Lucinda: We are developing a new therapy for glaucoma, which will provide a level of efficacy not seen in the past 45 years. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness after cataracts; however, there is a huge gap in the treatment success between these diseases. Cataract surgery is one of the best procedures performed in medicine. There are no drugs on the market to treat cataracts, because the surgery is so safe and effective. Camras Vision’s goal is to make glaucoma surgery like cataract surgery with our patented device and surgical approach. Our novel technology will provide the first-ever personalized treatment to prevent blindness for each patient.
Q: What’s your story?
Roberto: Lucinda comes from a long lineage of inventors. Her grandfather, Marvin Camras, developed magnetic tape recording in his 20s and is in the Inventors Hall of Fame. At 19 years old, her father, Carl Camras, discovered a new class of drugs (prostaglandin analogues) to treat glaucoma that remains the first-line treatment in the field. Lucinda started working in glaucoma at the age of 16 years old. By the time she was 19, she and her father had created a new glaucoma device and surgical approach. They worked together on the design and towards pursuing licensing agreements and funding. In 2009, Lucinda’s father passed away, but she continued their work to make their idea into a viable product.
Q: How did you learn about the SBTDC?
Lucinda: Our first attempt at funding failed so we were looking for a funding strategy and a colleague of mine recommended Kim Mayer at the SBTDC. Kim has been wonderful. We wouldn’t have been able to get off the ground without her. She helped us tailor our Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant application to the agency and knew how to package it.
Roberto: Funding is so limited in North Carolina for small startups like ours that don’t even have the capitol to get answers to questions, so a free service like the SBTDC is absolutely essential.
Q: How has the SBTDC helped?
The SBIR grant assistance is the most valuable thing the SBTDC has provided. Receiving the SBIR funding is what allowed us to move forward and we’ve actually been able to win three grants, although we had to turn one down. They have provided much needed advice on business development and we have also paired up with several student interns for marketing analysis.
Q: What impact have you seen on the business?
Well, we have an existing company that has produced a functioning medical device. We’ve been able to receive grant funding and we’re both able to work full time with some part-time help.
Q: What are the next steps?
We are seeking seed funding as well as continuing our grant strategy to further develop our device and begin our FDA preclinical testing to ensure that it is safe for humans. Then we will begin our first-in-man studies, which will be followed by long-term clinical studies to get FDA and CE approval. Once completed, we will start selling our product to help the millions of glaucoma suffers worldwide.
Story originally featured in the SBTDC’s 2013-2014 Annual Report.
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The SBTDC takes the fear away. Now I look at my financials and I understand them. Similar to my kayaking analogy, I can now hit my roll and plot my downriver course with confidence. I’m by no means a pro, and I still have a lot of questions. But I’m in there every month, and I know where I’m going to be at the end of the year. We’ve already hit our projections for the end of 2016; our gross revenues are up 20%. And we’ve just added two new employees.
We were aware there was a communication issue, but we’ve been able to fully understand the deeper issues, we have a plan to improve, and assurance that those improvements would take hold. There isn’t a finish line for this sort of thing, but the improvements have been recognizable and have made an impact on the company. Since working with the SBTDC, we’ve had a 20% increase in employees, and our revenues are increasing as our changes begin taking effect.