Mel Prenovitz, EndoSphere Surgical, Inc., Finalist of the Entrepreneur Track

Melvin Prenovitz

Melvin Prenovitz has shown strong entrepreneurial inclinations since he was eight years old. Whether it was selling novelties, going door to door asking neighbors to purchase Christmas cards, or shining shoes, he always found some way to build his business skills. Now, Melvin owns EndoSphere Surgical, Inc. and was named a finalist in the Entrepreneur Track of the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition for his hard work creating and building the company.

Mel’s interest in business was passed down from his family, who runs a second generation family business that Mel was trained to take over. After his graduation from Babson College, Mel worked full-time for the company. A few years later, Mel decided to move on from the company and went on to be a part of half a dozen start-ups.

Much of Mel’s experience prior to starting EndoSphere Surgical, Inc. helped him earn the knowledge he needed to have a company in the industrial and medical industries. His three jobs at video companies were particularly useful in helping him see the need for more advanced industrial and commercial video systems, as well as the opportunities to sell these systems for medical or surgical applications.

Before starting EndoSphere Surgical, Inc., Mel created his own first serious business when he was in his early 30’s. This business involved system design and sales of video imaging to a variety of markets, including audiovisual studios, security surveillance systems, and scientific instrumentation and surgery. Through his involvement with these markets, Mel got to work with surgeons developing arthroscopic surgery, adding to his experience with surgical applications of video systems.

Mel’s years of experience helped him find the reason to create EndoSphere Surgical, Inc.
“At this time in my career, I have 25 years of endoscopy experience and knowledge. I understand the capabilities and limitations of technology and can recognize opportunities. I started out doing a market research study of 3D video endoscopy. During that project, it became obvious to me that 3D was helpful for improving the way the surgical technique was practiced. But, the only reason for practicing it that way is because that is the way it was always done,” Mel said.

Mel spent at least a year performing market research for EndoSphere Surgical, Inc. He found that in laparoscopic surgery, doctors were looking for better instruments that decreased the number of incisions from as many as five to as few as one; however, when the instruments were sharing the same entry port into the body, surgeons had issues with depth perception. As new companies tried to reestablish depth perception to the endoscope, the device became more expensive and surgeons were facing cost containment pressures. EndoSphere Surgical, Inc. discovered the use of miniature electro optics restores depth perception without the need for a laparoscope or a video camera, and it works with existing instruments.

“Every competitor is competing for a better quality image by trying to improve the features of their endoscope and/or video camera. We approached the video image from an “out-of-the-box” perspective by designing a totally different approach to imaging that eliminated the endoscope, the camera and the light source,” Mel said.
Mel and his team were excited to be named a finalist in the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition. As Mel said, it was a “great boost in moral to all the team” and the publicity has been helpful.

For those of you with a passion to start your own business, Mel said, “[Be] prepared to sacrifice to achieve your goal, and then list all the alternative positions available to you. Then, realize that if you were to fail, mostly all those options will still be available. If you do not go for it, the “what if” will haunt you for the rest of your life.”

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