Lapovations is a medical device company creating a platform of innovative products to improve laparoscopy, or minimally invasive surgery of the abdomen. The company’s first product, AbGrab®, is a novel device that uses suction to lift the abdominal wall at the start of the procedure. AbGrab® is more reliable and less invasive than current lifting methods.
Lapovations was formed in 2016 in the graduate-level New Venture Development course co-taught by Carol Reeves and Sarah Goforth with the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Arkansas. In 2018, Lapovations became the most successful startup competition team in U of A history, winning seven state, regional and national business plan competitions, placing second in two others, and earning over $305,000 in cash and investment prizes.
In total, Lapovations has received nearly $2M in mostly non-dilutive funding, including a $1M Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), a $225K SBIR Phase I grant from NSF, and $150K in matching grants from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) as part of the Arkansas Small Business Innovation Research Matching Grant Program. Lapovations participated in two competitive Arkansas accelerator programs, the Delta I-Fund and Health InnovatAR (now HealthTech Arkansas), that provided an additional $100,000 in combined investment along with valuable mentorship for the company and introductions to key stakeholders in the startup and medical communities, and received a $100K investment from the Winrock International Validation Fund, an evergreen, not-for-profit fund focused on investing in validation-stage startups in Arkansas.
Jared is the founder and CEO of Lapovations, a medical device company creating a platform of innovative products to improve laparoscopic surgery. Founded in 2016 while Jared pursued a Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Arkansas, Lapovations has raised nearly $2M in funding, primarily through non-dilutive grants, and launched their flagship product, AbGrab®, in the U.S. in 2021.
Jared also has a Master’s in Business Administration (2009) and Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering (Magna Cum Laude, 2002) from the University of Arkansas and has served as a mentor for several startup and student entrepreneurs. His board service includes the University of Arkansas SAKE Board of Directors, University of Arkansas MBA Alumni Advisory Board, and Walton College of Business DREAM Roundtable.
Dr. Chris Taylor
Chief Medical Officer
Dr. Chris Taylor is an OBGYN in Harrison, Arkansas who has completed over 4,000 laparoscopic procedures. As a gynecologist, Dr. Taylor has been taking care of women’s health care needs for over 20 years. Dr. Taylor grew up in the small community of Russellville, Arkansas, completed medical school at UAMS in Little Rock, and went on to complete his residency at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi.
During his time as a resident, the program in Jackson was ranked near the top of all the OBGYN training programs in the country due to the sheer volume of surgical cases performed, providing an opportunity for residents to get valuable hands-on experience. Some of the most difficult and challenging cases in Mississippi ended up at the University of Mississippi. At the completion of his training, Dr. Taylor had gained a level of surgical experience that typically takes gynecologists years to achieve.
At the conclusion of his residency, Dr. Taylor was recruited by several large practices in bigger cities but felt the pull to return to his home state to help fulfil a tremendous need by providing care in an underserved area.
Despite practicing in a small community, it has always been important to Dr. Taylor that his patients have access to the same advanced therapies commonly found in large metropolitan areas, so he has always stayed at the forefront of these advances.
Dr. Taylor became the first OGBYN in Arkansas to perform a total laparoscopic hysterectomy in an outpatient setting, allowing patients to go home just two to three hours after surgery and go back to work in just ten to fourteen days. Today, over 99% of his hysterectomies are performed in this manner.
After more than 20 years of practice, Dr. Taylor has treated over 25,000 women and performed over 4,000 laparoscopic procedures. He continues striving towards his goal of providing the same advanced therapies commonly found in large metropolitan areas but doing so with a warm and personal touch.
Chief Operating Officer
Nhiem Cao, Lapovations COO, has over 20 years of experience in manufacturing, process engineering, and consulting. He was born in Vietnam and grew up in Fort Smith, Arkansas.
Nhiem completed his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Arkansas and went on to work in the paper industry. During his time in the paper industry, he evaluated and implemented new technology, designed innovative solutions, developed and led production trials for paper machines, and developed standard operating procedures and metrics to evaluate various processes.
After 8 years of working in industry, he returned to Arkansas to attain a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Arkansas Sam M. Walton College of Business. His focus during this degree program was entrepreneurship. This led to pursuits in start-ups and small businesses.
To date, Nhiem has raised over $2.8M in venture funding for previous ventures. In addition to venture funding, he has been awarded over $2 million in grants through the National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research program.
Director of R&D
Spencer worked for 3 years in direct patient care as a Certified Nursing Assistant, Licensed Practical Nurse, and as a Registered Nurse. Frustrated with the inefficiencies plaguing the healthcare system, he was determined to play a role in improving the delivery of healthcare.
In 2014, Spencer won the annual ARK Challenge, an Arkansas based business accelerator. The product he developed was a dual lumen peripheral IV called the BVAD, which focuses on painless and uncontaminated blood draws. While still working as a nurse in the clinical setting, Spencer identified another opportunity where improvement was needed around IV complication prevention. This led to the birth of SafeBreak Vascular and the founding of Lineus Medical in 2015.
Spencer grew up in Conway, Akansas graduated from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor in the Science of Nursing. Spencer has mentored several companies through the Delta I-Fund and was the Entrepreneur in Residence for the Hub X Life Sciences Accelerator for 2016. He has four issued U.S. patents and several others pending, and he successfully ushered a Class II device, SafeBreak Vascular, through the FDA obtaining De Novo clearance.
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