Carolyn Morse, President of Power Lung, talks about her product that helps people improve lung function.
Please excuse any typos in this hasty transcript.
Matt Register: Welcome back to Texas Business Radio. Texasbusinessradio.com is the Web site. Get your calls in, 844-814-8144 is our 24 hour call in line. Calling in now, call in the middle of the night, I really don’t care. We’re going to get the experts on here to get those questions answered. I’m your host Matt Register. Jay Curry is in the co-host chair and we’re talking about medical devices. Medical devices and ancillary businesses surrounding the medical community in Texas is big business. Right Jay?
Jay Curry: Absolutely is. And you know the effort that it takes to get approval for that can be huge, time consuming. And we’re going to hear a little bit about that in this segment. It’s a, it’s a problem and yet it’s a necessity. You know we have to be safe about this but it can be a real charter for a new company to brake forward.
Matt Register: Well, no doubt. And I tell you what, we have a company in here and a CEO in here, that’s a story I think you’re going to enjoy. This is a work in process. This is a company that started out with a product that was being sold into the sports industry and kind of did an asthma check and moved into the medical industry. And some of the things surrounding, the challenges surrounding making that move are are big. Right?
Jay Curry: Big time, that’s right.
Matt Register: And we’re pretty excited about this. Carolyn Morse is the President of Power Lung. Which is a breathing device, breathing exercise device. Carolyn welcome to the show.
Carolyn Morse: Thanks. It’s good to be here.
Matt Register: So tell us a little bit about the Power Lung.
Carolyn Morse: Well, Power Lung, Power Lung is a little bit unique in the way that it offers breathing training and breathing exercises. It’s going to take a little bit different approach, more like you do with progressive strength training when you go to the gym. You know when you pick up a 10 pound weight in the gym, it’s 10 pounds whether you’re lifting it or lowering it. But you do use it in both directions. Well that’s the way Power Lung works. Most of the other devices that you’ve seen or products that you’ve seen, either work only for inhale or exhale or they restrict the air flow. We don’t do that. There is a mechanism inside the device, you control the pressure on the inhale, you control the pressure on the exhale and you breathe. And as you breathe, one of the things that happens is, first of all it teaches you to breathe from your belly breathing, as singers would say. And then it strengthens the muscles, so that you use it more effectively. And you wind up getting basically more air per breath because you exhale better. You can bring more air in and you’ve got better breathing habits.
Matt Register: Well, very simply and correct me if I’m wrong, this is, this is essentially lifting weights for your breathing. This allows you as an athlete to get more oxygen in your blood. This allows you as, in the medical side of it, as a medical patient of something, to where you’re having breathing problems, this can assist in getting you, allowing you to breathe easier. Correct?
Carolyn Morse: That is absolutely correct. Because in, from an athlete perspective you might, if you watch that heart rate monitor, then you’re going to see that go down because you’re not having to work as hard because you got more oxygen. The same thing’s going to be true of a COPD patient or anybody else who may have some sort of breathing condition. And that is that you’re really going to be able to better utilize the lung capacity that you have.
Matt Register: Now you got started in the sports industry. Tell me a little bit about, about your first, you know, several years in business and that angle because you ended up deciding to pivot. Right?
Carolyn Morse: Yes, we did. Well, we originally had a plan to pivot a little earlier. But one of the things that happened is we did start out in sports and our primary sports were going to be the big four; swim, bike, run, try. Makes sense because these were the people who were using it. The backgrounds that we had, my husband and I, who invented the product, our backgrounds were more along those lines. So we understood better how to talk to them. What we found though, is not everybody breathes the same but everybody wants to breathe better. So that’s how we wound up with additional models. One of the things that happened as a business is that you sometimes, in spite of your plan, lose focus. And so everybody said “Oh! You know this would be good for…” fill in the blank.
Jay Curry: Right. Everybody that breathes. Right? So where’s the end of that?
Carolyn Morse: Yeah, right. That’s basically what we came down to is and you can’t service anybody who breathes.
Matt Register: Sure.
Carolyn Morse: So that’s how we spent time. We actually came out with a completely different line for music at one time. So it wasn’t necessarily a side track but it didn’t keep us true to our plan. And I think that’s probably one thing if, if I had a chance to do that over again, I probably would stay closer to the plan.
Matt Register: Well in every company there is, you know, I would love to say that every company we talk to has a master plan on day one, that they follow through all the way to the end. I mean, everybody kind of pivots, you know, where it makes sense in their business. But a few years ago, you got, you made the decision that, that in the medical community is the direction you need to go.
Carolyn Morse: Right.
Matt Register: Walk us through a little about that process. Because, you know, knowing, you know, any device, any drug, anything that goes into the medical community is a very heavily regulated to say the least. Right? And there is a definite process and a definite learning curve if that’s not what you, has as a core competency in your company. Right?
Carolyn Morse: Right. Absolutely. So in 1999, when we started, there was really no such thing as a preexisting device, kind of comparable, a five 10k, it’s known as. You had to go for, excuse me, a full pre-market approval.
Matt Register: OK.
Carolyn Morse: So we decided to go to sports at that time and the transition in organically to the other. In the meantime, everything changed, the laws changed. They added the 5 10K in 2007. We actually hired a consultant to help take us to medical device. Unfortunately, he developed cancer, so that got put on hold again for a little bit of time. Your choices on who you choose. People, anybody who’s in the medical development community at the Medical Center here in Houston will understand. And there are whole large groups at the Medical Center who help walk people through the process. But if you’ve got a great idea and you’re a solo inventor, you don’t always know these things. That a guy who is a specialist in getting drugs through the FDA is not your guy.
Matt Register: Well…
Carolyn Morse: To do a device. And the just recently, the patent laws changed. And then the FDA is changing some of the regulations and the payment schedules are changing. Just because you get it approved as a device, then you have to go around and get it approved for payment.
Matt Register: Well and just to make it easy, this device, we were talking a little bit during the break, you’re talking about like emphysema. You’re talking about…
Carolyn Morse: Yes.
Matt Register: You know, neck and throat surgeries. You’re talking about. So, you know, which angle do you take? You know medical advice is a very big wide world. Right? What little corner of that do you, do you hit first? Right?
Carolyn Morse: Exactly. Because you run in, when you get into that you get into the same kind of conditions and things that you get into with the sports aspect of it of “Oh, it’ll be good for this”. Well it would be but which one? COPD because that’s how the product came about was one that we have always been interested in. It is still the number four killer of people in the United States. And this is a country where we’ve stopped smoking and smoking is the biggest cause. There are a few others but it is the main cause of it. I can’t help but wonder what’s going to happen in the countries that haven’t gone this route. Where they haven’t cut back on the smoking. And so I see a future still for that in addition to the others that are going along with it.
Jay Curry: So while, while this is going on, you’re going through this process though, you’re actually able to get this product online. You don’t, you don’t have to wait for all the… If you want to build up your lungs, whether it’s for sports or just you don’t feel well or you have some kind of medical. You can go to your Web site and get the product and actually use it. Right?
Carolyn Morse: You actually can. We are now, we are registered with the FDA. They’re, we’re, the class that most people think of as a medical device is, that we would fall into, is a class 2. That means it would measure something. It’s something that would, might be labeled to diagnose, treat or cure a condition. We are a class 1. So that means we’re exempt from those. We have, we can’t lie in our labeling. We can’t say that we’d treat something.
Matt Register: Sure.
Carolyn Morse: But yes, you can, you can go online to Powerlung.com and you can buy the product. And we have four different models. And a page called “Which Do I Choose” to help you make sure you get the one that’s going to get you the results, that you want. Whether it’s for your health, your sport, your fitness or as a guy yesterday said “You know, I really should quit smoking”.
Jay Curry: Yeah. So the other thing about it is, not only can you get it now. But you don’t, you just have no reason whatsoever not to be able to go get it. The things that you’re struggling with are things, it’s red tape that will eventually go away. This product’s been around for a long time. It’s not like brand new and risky, it’s there.
Carolyn Morse: No. It’s been around for a generation.
Jay Curry: You want to build your lungs up, build your breathing up. This is where you want to go to get it.
Carolyn Morse: Exactly. Exactly. And it’s not a one size fits all. It’s not like breathing through straws. It’s one of those kinds of things, it’s going to develop you, develop your breathing. You’re going to see the results on a heart rate monitor and your pulmonary function tests. And it can be customized to what…
Jay Curry: For you.
Carolyn Morse: You need. I mean, even a therapist can use it in that regard now.
Jay Curry: Where do they go now? We’re going to run out of time here. But tell us one more time where to go.
Carolyn Morse: www.powerlung.com.
Matt Register: Carolyn Morse, President of Power Lung. Powerlung.com. Use coupon code TBR for 20 percent off, if you want to. Guys, we got to go take a break and pay some bills. Will be back right after this with a whole lot more Texas Business Radio. Don’t go anywhere.
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In addition to hosting "Texas Business Radio," Matt is an investment banker and serial entrepreneur from Montgomery, Texas. He is the owner of RREA Media and Register Real Estate Advisors and a Managing Director and Principal at Corporate Finance Associates. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Rice University in Houston. You can read more about Matt HERE.