Pursuit Vascular: Time to Bring in New CEO

The transition will give founder and former CEO Bob Ziebol more time to focus on getting regulatory approval for its device in Europe and the United States-and to pursue additional products.

Blaine-based Pursuit Vascular is likely just a year away from gaining regulatory approval for its ClearGuard HD device-and it's the perfect time to bring in a new CEO, says founder Bob Ziebol.

The company, which was founded in 2009 and won the Minnesota Cup competition that same year, announced earlier this month that Doug Killion has been selected as its new president and CEO, taking over for Ziebol, who will transition to the position of chief technology officer (CTO).

Since the company's founding, the plan was to bring in a new CEO when “the timing was appropriate,” Ziebol told Twin Cities Business. He believes that time is now.

Ziebol, whose main expertise is in early stage companies, said that Killion has extensive experience working with later-stage companies and has a proven track record for bringing products to market. Ziebol added that Killion has experience leading a company through an acquisition, which is something that Pursuit Vascular may consider in the future.

Ziebol said that the company expects to gain regulatory approval for its ClearGuard HD-a device used to prevent bloodstream infections in dialysis patients-in Europe in about a year and in the United States by September 2012.

With Killion at the helm, Ziebol's time will be freed up to focus on the regulatory process and to pursue additional products using the ClearGuard technology.

In addition to Ziebol and Killion, the company has one other employee-Keith Modert, director of engineering. Pursuit Vascular also has a large number of consultants who work with it, including 10 people who serve on its medical advisory board.

With the transition, Killion will take over fundraising, marketing, sales, and a number of general administrative roles that Ziebol used to perform since the company is rather small. As CTO, Ziebol will focus his efforts on making sure that the development and commercialization of the ClearGuard HD “happens in a timely manner.”

“It's really tough to give up the reins, but giving it to the right person makes it much easier,” Ziebol said, adding that the company wanted to have a new leader in place well before the ClearGuard HD device gained approval. Ziebol said that the most difficult part of this process has been finding the right person to take his place and help fulfill the company's vision.

Killion is a medical device veteran and has more than 21 years of medical device industry experience. He was formerly president of Sealing Solutions Inc., where he led the company from its inception in 2008 until it was acquired in 2010. Before joining Sealing Solutions, Killion held a variety of senior management positions at Boston Scientific, including director of global marketing, business development, and project management.

“I am excited to join Pursuit Vascular as the company transitions to the next level,” Killion said in a statement. “The company's [research and development] and engineering strength have created a solid foundation as we move forward with regulatory submissions, clinical trials, and commercialization of our technology.”

Last fall, Pursuit Vascular launched its first round of financing with a goal of raising $350,000. The company ended up raising $365,000 and closed on about 95 percent of the capital within the first two months of the offering, according to Ziebol.

In addition, the company was awarded a $244,000 Therapeutic Discovery Grant from the U.S. government last fall and has secured another $2,500 from various competitions in North Dakota and South Dakota, Ziebol said.

Ziebol said that the company is looking for additional financing in the near future but declined to specify how much and how it will pursue that financing.