When Tammy Lee signed on as CEO of Nanocore Corp. last May, ownership promised her funding to turn around the Red Wing-based manufacturer of wearable cooling therapeutic products. The money didn’t materialize, Lee says. And she quickly discovered the company’s shaky financial standing made it impossible for Lee—who completed a $34 million Series A capital raise when she was CEO of Recombinetics—to raise what Nanocore needed. She left in November after just six months. Soon, Lee says, the company moved out of its offices and all nine employees were laid off.
In January, Lee secured financing to start her own intellectual property firm, Xena Ventures, which will look to license or acquire consumer products in the medical, health, and wellness arena. On Thursday she announced her first company: Xena Cool, manufacturer of wearable cool therapy wraps. Sound familiar? With Nanocore’s patents expired or nonexistent, Lee says she was able to build on what that company was doing, and hire the entire Nanocore staff to make the updated products.
“To get the right workforce, it made sense to stay in Red Wing,” says Lee, CEO of Xena Cool. The medical device company leased a building on Feb. 1, immediately set up its manufacturing operation, and six weeks later, products are now for sale.
The company’s initial line of FDA-registered Class 1 medical devices is called Onyx Ortho and it includes form-fitting cool packs that can be worn on knee, shoulder, back and hip to provide pain relief during active use. Made of material that can be placed directly on skin, the packs are said to stay cool for up to an hour.
Where Nanocore was selling into Mayo Clinic and a handful of other hospital systems, Xena Cool will go straight to consumers, Lee says. Onyx Ortho products are now available on the company’s website and will soon launch on Amazon as well as QVC and HSN. A second line of health and medical products for women will launch in April, Lee says.
Lee’s initial funding for Xena Ventures came from more than $1 million in bank financing. “We will raise capital to launch other med tech companies. We didn’t have to do that for the initial launch, but we’re actively seeking investors.”
Lee brought on a partner, Dr. Mitchell Abrahamsen, who worked with her at Recombinetics as chief commercial and scientific officer. “He knows how to take the science out of the lab and into the marketplace,” Lee says. “If the science is strong enough, and presents and unmet need in the marketplace, we’ll build out the commercial strategy.”
Lee says she’s looking for those “genius inventors” with an existing product that needs help achieving commercial success.