OCTANe’s Ophthalmology Technology Summit to unite physicians and industry on innovation

Healio.com/OSN recently spoke with Bill Carpou, CEO of OCTANe, about the upcoming Ophthalmology Technology Summit on June 23 and 24 in Newport Beach, California.

Healio.com /OSN: What is the goal of the OCTANe OTS meeting?

Bill Carpou: The meeting is focused on innovation, but the real goal is to introduce entrepreneurial physicians to investors and align the key opinion leaders with industry. It’s more targeted than many other conferences.

OCTANe provides an environment where our community can continue to build innovation and share creative ideas. We want attendees to come out of the conference and say, “OK, now I kind of know how to go about building upon that idea that I think I had.” A big focus of this is driving that front-end, early-stage ecosystem through the OCTANe platform.

Bill Carpou

Bill Carpou

Healio.com /OSN: How many attendees overall are you expecting, and how many ophthalmologists do you expect to participate?

Carpou: Last year we had just over 200 attendees, with about 35, 40 ophthalmologists and outgrew the venue. For 2017 we decided to move to an upscale venue and chose the Island Hotel. We are expecting this year around 350 total attendees and around 70 to 80 ophthalmologists.

One of the things we have consistently heard, whether it’s industry or the physicians regarding AAO or ASCRS or OIS, any of the big conferences, is: “God, those are so big, they’re massive, you have to go, but it’s just exhausting at the end.” What we’re really trying to create here is an intimate, exclusive event. I really don’t want to grow it to thousands of people.

We want to create an environment where people are relaxed. They’re enjoying it. There’s an element of fun. Everyone can be approached. They can find people they want to and in a more casual setting have that type of interaction. Call it a much less formal, intimate, exclusive component. In the future, we want to build scarcity and hope that the fact that it will be invitation only, it’s not just open to anybody that wants to show up and come. We do have the ability for upper growth at the Island Hotel, but it doesn’t mean we have got to get there — quality over quantity.

Healio.com /OSN: What is new or different about the program this year?

Carpou: The program is larger, and the content has grown. Larger meaning more people, and the content has more panels and relevant topics. The social networking aspect is exclusive and intimate, as we’ve talked about. We’ve allowed time for people to connect. That’s one component. The quality of the content, in terms of real-life relevance and the chairs that are moderating each of the panels, is about as good as it gets. We have a full second day, which we have never had before. The full second day will be focused specifically to industry, our tier one sponsors interacting with KOLs. It’s all of your usual type of content in a general conference day 1, and then just specifically KOL physicians and industry on day 2. More your ad board type of discussions, where each of these companies will have the ability to run their meeting as they see fit with whatever content and whatever input they want to get in an intimate setting from the KOLs.

Healio.com /OSN: What do you anticipate will be some of the highlights of the program?

Carpou: I think anytime you have a high-profile CEO like Alex Gorsky [CEO of Johnson & Johnson], that becomes an absolute highlight. I think people are going to walk away with three things: utilization of data, focus to patient centricity and being able to innovate your practice for the practice of tomorrow — how can a practice attract and retain more patients and utilize technology to enhance efficiencies.

We are also going to be presenting our first lifetime achievement award. I really don’t want to disclose who that’s going to be right now, but it’s someone well known in the industry, well deserving of it. I’m not sure it’s going to be an annual type of event, but it’s very applicable for this person.

Healio.com /OSN: Could you briefly discuss how the Visionary Venture Fund came about and how it relates to OCTANe and OTS?

Carpou: The fund was created in April 2016, and we just closed the fund to new investors April 25. It will give us the ability to make about $30 million in investments in ophthalmology over the next several years. We will be announcing [soon], prior to OTS, our fifth investment.

It really came about because the OCTANe board wanted us to put a fund together, and we looked at this and said, “You know, our core competency as a region is ophthalmology, and it’s a terrific industry.” That’s how we came up with Visionary, which is — no pun intended — obviously focused on ophthalmology. It has done well. Some of the companies that we’ve invested in early have come around for subsequent rounds at significantly higher valuations. We think we have a good formula for success, and OCTANe is one of the general partners. We were fortunate enough to hire a very talented managing partner in Jeff Weinhuff to manage the day-to-day aspects of the fund. Visionary has served a purpose within the industry, and it seems to have drawn a lot of attention.

Healio.com /OSN: What would you want our audience of ophthalmologists who are not attending OTS to know about the meeting?

Carpou: What I’d really want them to do is to talk to someone they know who attended and find out those people were left with a different level of knowledge that they now utilize going forward in operating their practice. What they are hearing secondhand is: “This was a great meeting. We really learned relevant content.” Frankly, at the end of it, I’d want them to say, “This is a must place for me to be next year in 2018.”

I also owe a lot to our four chairs: Jim Mazzo, Richard Lindstrom, MD, John A. Hovanesian, MD, and Ehsan Sadri, MD. OCTANe appreciates the unique perspective each of them have; they are impressive to work with. Honestly, what we have found is people come because they know it’s a good event, but also because those individuals are involved. It’s powerful.

One of the other things is, and I talk about this relaxed setting, we want there to be plenty of time for industry to interact with the physicians, and should they want to put together private dinners on their own, one of the reasons we moved to Fashion Island is you could walk out of the Island Hotel and without even jumping in a cab or Uber, you could walk to six restaurants. We tried to build this in a venue that lends itself to a little bit of that informality, and we are announcing that it will be business casual dress to fit in more with the setting and provide that informality that we are after.

Healio.com /OSN: What is the goal of the OCTANe OTS meeting?

Bill Carpou: The meeting is focused on innovation, but the real goal is to introduce entrepreneurial physicians to investors and align the key opinion leaders with industry. It’s more targeted than many other conferences.

OCTANe provides an environment where our community can continue to build innovation and share creative ideas. We want attendees to come out of the conference and say, “OK, now I kind of know how to go about building upon that idea that I think I had.” A big focus of this is driving that front-end, early-stage ecosystem through the OCTANe platform.

Bill Carpou

Bill Carpou

Healio.com /OSN: How many attendees overall are you expecting, and how many ophthalmologists do you expect to participate?

Carpou: Last year we had just over 200 attendees, with about 35, 40 ophthalmologists and outgrew the venue. For 2017 we decided to move to an upscale venue and chose the Island Hotel. We are expecting this year around 350 total attendees and around 70 to 80 ophthalmologists.

One of the things we have consistently heard, whether it’s industry or the physicians regarding AAO or ASCRS or OIS, any of the big conferences, is: “God, those are so big, they’re massive, you have to go, but it’s just exhausting at the end.” What we’re really trying to create here is an intimate, exclusive event. I really don’t want to grow it to thousands of people.

We want to create an environment where people are relaxed. They’re enjoying it. There’s an element of fun. Everyone can be approached. They can find people they want to and in a more casual setting have that type of interaction. Call it a much less formal, intimate, exclusive component. In the future, we want to build scarcity and hope that the fact that it will be invitation only, it’s not just open to anybody that wants to show up and come. We do have the ability for upper growth at the Island Hotel, but it doesn’t mean we have got to get there — quality over quantity.

Healio.com /OSN: What is new or different about the program this year?

Carpou: The program is larger, and the content has grown. Larger meaning more people, and the content has more panels and relevant topics. The social networking aspect is exclusive and intimate, as we’ve talked about. We’ve allowed time for people to connect. That’s one component. The quality of the content, in terms of real-life relevance and the chairs that are moderating each of the panels, is about as good as it gets. We have a full second day, which we have never had before. The full second day will be focused specifically to industry, our tier one sponsors interacting with KOLs. It’s all of your usual type of content in a general conference day 1, and then just specifically KOL physicians and industry on day 2. More your ad board type of discussions, where each of these companies will have the ability to run their meeting as they see fit with whatever content and whatever input they want to get in an intimate setting from the KOLs.

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Healio.com /OSN: What do you anticipate will be some of the highlights of the program?

Carpou: I think anytime you have a high-profile CEO like Alex Gorsky [CEO of Johnson & Johnson], that becomes an absolute highlight. I think people are going to walk away with three things: utilization of data, focus to patient centricity and being able to innovate your practice for the practice of tomorrow — how can a practice attract and retain more patients and utilize technology to enhance efficiencies.

We are also going to be presenting our first lifetime achievement award. I really don’t want to disclose who that’s going to be right now, but it’s someone well known in the industry, well deserving of it. I’m not sure it’s going to be an annual type of event, but it’s very applicable for this person.

Healio.com /OSN: Could you briefly discuss how the Visionary Venture Fund came about and how it relates to OCTANe and OTS?

Carpou: The fund was created in April 2016, and we just closed the fund to new investors April 25. It will give us the ability to make about $30 million in investments in ophthalmology over the next several years. We will be announcing [soon], prior to OTS, our fifth investment.

It really came about because the OCTANe board wanted us to put a fund together, and we looked at this and said, “You know, our core competency as a region is ophthalmology, and it’s a terrific industry.” That’s how we came up with Visionary, which is — no pun intended — obviously focused on ophthalmology. It has done well. Some of the companies that we’ve invested in early have come around for subsequent rounds at significantly higher valuations. We think we have a good formula for success, and OCTANe is one of the general partners. We were fortunate enough to hire a very talented managing partner in Jeff Weinhuff to manage the day-to-day aspects of the fund. Visionary has served a purpose within the industry, and it seems to have drawn a lot of attention.

Healio.com /OSN: What would you want our audience of ophthalmologists who are not attending OTS to know about the meeting?

Carpou: What I’d really want them to do is to talk to someone they know who attended and find out those people were left with a different level of knowledge that they now utilize going forward in operating their practice. What they are hearing secondhand is: “This was a great meeting. We really learned relevant content.” Frankly, at the end of it, I’d want them to say, “This is a must place for me to be next year in 2018.”

I also owe a lot to our four chairs: Jim Mazzo, Richard Lindstrom, MD, John A. Hovanesian, MD, and Ehsan Sadri, MD. OCTANe appreciates the unique perspective each of them have; they are impressive to work with. Honestly, what we have found is people come because they know it’s a good event, but also because those individuals are involved. It’s powerful.

One of the other things is, and I talk about this relaxed setting, we want there to be plenty of time for industry to interact with the physicians, and should they want to put together private dinners on their own, one of the reasons we moved to Fashion Island is you could walk out of the Island Hotel and without even jumping in a cab or Uber, you could walk to six restaurants. We tried to build this in a venue that lends itself to a little bit of that informality, and we are announcing that it will be business casual dress to fit in more with the setting and provide that informality that we are after.

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