Where Are They Now?

Jennifer Fried of ExplORer Surgical interviewed by Steve Kaplan

Show Notes

Jennifer Fried, MBA ’15, started her MBA at Chicago Booth with dreams of a career in venture capital. By the time she graduated, she had launched a healthcare tech company that helps ensure surgical procedures go smoothly — and today her product is becoming a must-have in operating rooms.

Fried, MBA ’15, took second place in the Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge (NVC) with ExplORer Surgical, a digital playbook that helps surgical teams coordinate and communicate during procedures.

The Chicago-based company recently closed a $2.5 million round, bringing its total funding to $11 million.

In a conversation with Steve Kaplan, her former Booth professor and co-founder of the New Venture Challenge, Fried discusses how she went from having no medical experience to being a healthcare entrepreneur, and how the NVC helped steer her toward a viable concept.

“We got destroyed in our pitch presentations,” Fried recalled. “The judges just ripped apart everything we did, and it made us so much stronger as a company to push on our business model and think through the problem and what evidence did we have to show and how could we validate it.”

Fried, who left her “dream job” at a VC firm to run the company, reveals the sweat that went into finding the right investors, the challenge of making sales and the hardest part of being the boss. She describes how the company found a foothold by partnering with medical device reps and how the COVID-19 pandemic catapulted her business as hospitals sought ways to go virtual.

“I think 2020 was the inflection point for us where we went from, candidly, I think, a nice-to-have product that might’ve been a little bit ahead of its time to being a must-have product that the entire medical device industry needs and is looking for,” Fried said.

What is Where Are They Now??

Join us as we catch up with founders from Chicago Booth's New Venture Challenge and hear about their entrepreneurial journeys. Hosted by Colin Keeley.