Editor's note: Jim Stafford will file daily reports about Oklahoma's presence at the four-day BIO International convention this week in Boston.
BOSTON — Bryan Fuller described the opportunities that greeted him at the 2012 BIO International Convention here this week as “huge” Monday morning before beginning a series of partnering meetings that carried deep into the afternoon.
“This place, the meetings that we have scheduled could be a real boon to us in terms of revenue coming in to grow the company,” said Fuller, founder and CEO of Oklahoma City-based DermaMedics.
A former University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center scientist, Fuller founded DermaMedics after discovering a compound in his laboratory that provided protection to the skin from radiation and laser burns, rashes and other skin conditions.
DermaMedics now markets a full line of skin care products exclusively through medical professionals such as doctor's offices and clinics in Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Arizona and Colorado. The company employs 14 people, half of them in sales.
The 20 partnering meetings Fuller lined up over a three-day period bring potential partners to expand DermaMedics sales to Canada, Asia, Europe and even into the pet-care industry.
“The biggest challenge for a startup is marketing,” Fuller said. “If you are a company that is going to build products and sell them yourself, that's a huge marketing challenge and that's where you need this type of interaction.”
80 members in group
In fact, Fuller was reluctant to join the Oklahoma contingent at the BIO show when first approached about the possibility.
“I'm so busy; I'm really the only management in the company right now,” he said.
“When something takes me away from the office four or five days it makes me a little nervous.”
Fuller finally accepted the invitation and signed on as a first-time member with the 80-plus member OKBio group representing Oklahoma on the floor of the convention here this week.
He discovered the potential of attending a convention expected to draw up to 15,000 people when he entered a brief bio about DermaMedics in a BIO database for potential partnering meetings. Scores of companies responded with requests for meetings at the show.
“I had 80 requests for meetings. Eighty,” he said. “Most of them I turned down. I finally said ‘yes' to 20 people.”
Sheri Stickley, president of the Oklahoma Biotech Association that promotes the industry statewide, compared Fuller's experience to that of first-time visitors to Oklahoma City.
“BIO is a little like Oklahoma in that you have to get people there for them to grasp the opportunity,” Stickley said. “I think that's the case with our companies when they come to BIO. It's only when they are here and see the scope of this convention do they grasp the opportunity.”
“It's the same thing when we have some of the companies from other states and other countries. It's only when they come to Oklahoma and see it for themselves that they see the quality of the research and the opportunities that are in Oklahoma.
Given his first opportunity to see the BIO exhibition when he walked onto the floor of the massive Boston Convention Center on Monday, Fuller described both the show itself and the opportunities offered as impressive in their scope.
“Bottom line is I will come to the show every year,” Fuller said. “This has turned out to be a fantastic opportunity.”
By the numbers
2012 BIO International Convention
3 Areas within the Oklahoma exhibition space devoted to partnering meetings
4 No. of days the BIO 2012 exhibition hall at the Boston Convention Center will be open
55 No. of partnering sessions on agenda in Oklahoma booth during four days of show
86 No. of people in Oklahoma delegation.
809 Oklahoma booth number on the floor of the Boston Convention Center
2,000 Size in square feet of Oklahoma booth.
15,000+ No. of people expected to attend the convention