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Progress Post FastPitch Competition: Grand Prize Winner’s Launch

It has been said that necessity is the mother of invention. Such was the case for Dr. Trevor Gibbs, an anesthesiologist who was often frustrated by a lack of space for his equipment during surgery. Since he began practicing in 2007, he has been thinking about a better way to organize and hold all the supplies necessary to put patients to sleep in a hygienic and organized manner. After eight years, Gibbs said to himself, “That’s it, I don’t know how, but I’m going to figure out a way to invent a device.”

During a recent Thinker Venture podcast, Gibbs reflected on his entrepreneurial journey so far.

His first call after completing his Internet research led him to SCORE–the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors. He first connected with a mentor who had engineering experience. With his SCORE mentor’s referrals in hand, the following day he met with an intellectual property (IP) attorney. His next step was to begin a relationship with NIU EIGERlab.

Mike Cobert of NIU EIGERlab’s Center for Product Development talked with Gibbs about what he wanted to do and connected him with an engineer who could help.

In talking with other inventors in the medical field, Gibbs was assured that the NIU EIGERlab and SCORE professionals were valuable and credible partners he’d heard horror stories of manufacturers closing their doors, keeping the inventor’s IP and expensive molds with no further communication, and was thankful for referrals to experts with strong reputations.

Today, Gibbs is the proud winner of the 2017 FastPitch Competition, has completed more field testing and plans to launch Anestand in June. But he says this device is only the beginning.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed the product development process, and I envision Anestand not to be just a solo product, but a line of medical products,“ he said. “The operating room is my inspiration where I can validate and measure my concepts. I plan to continue on the entrepreneurial path, and in the future, I envision working part-time in my practice, in addition to promoting my inventions, and running my business on a part-time basis.”

During the product development process, Gibbs was surprised by the amount of time and money required. He envisioned the Anestand would be available to purchase within one year, and he would be able to develop the product for approximately $30,000—both have doubled.

Gibbs is happy to encourage others to follow their entrepreneurial goals and has some advice to offer from his personal experience. The most important? Protect your idea. Be sure to do market research – are you the only person with this problem? Consider your situation: do you have the time and money to invest to get your product developed and into the marketplace? Finally, consider your corporate structure; look ahead in case you plan to sell.

“Being new to the business world, this process has been a bit stressful,” Gibbs said. “But it’s gratifying to develop an idea and see it work in a way that solves your problem and helps others.”

NIU EIGERlab embraces startups and supports entrepreneurs such as Dr. Trevor Gibbs along the pathway toward success. Programming and services are in place at two NIU EIGERlab locations to assist startups and existing businesses—entrepreneurs in all phases. To learn more about how NIU EIGERlab can help you develop your idea or grow your business, visit or call 815.753.2192.

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