The NEVCA is proud to share the stories of our 2018 NEVY Awards nominees through their own words. Hear their experiences of success, failure, and everything in between — most importantly, what has driven them forward to build and grow their vision, starting with the very first spark of inspiration.

Vapotherm was founded in 1999 by Bill Niland, who had the crazy idea of modifying a technology developed for the horse racing industry for human use. That led to him establishing a plant in Annapolis, MD, achieving FDA approval to use the therapy on patients and begin selling our 2000i product into hospitals. The product took off from there, especially in the NICU where premature babies thrived on our Hi-VNI® technology. Bill never imagined it could help the smallest of all patients, but due to a trusting, supportive and encouraging relationship with some top neonatologists in the country, they convinced Bill it could work, and they were right. Momentum from the start was strong, but unfortunately in 2005, company growth quickly stalled due to a Class 1 recall. All product needed to be returned to us which took us out of the market for over a year, and the door wide open to competitors.

Bill Niland in the early days of the company.

It was during that time, the company turned to outside investors and raised its first venture capital funding. With that investment, we rebuilt, rebranded and rebounded with a new product, the Precision Flow, which is our primary product today. Even after the recall, momentum came back but periodic spikes in quality issues plagued the company. However, the product was too efficacious for customers to stop using it and growth resumed. Through the ups and downs, the company saw its fair share of turmoil, and when growth stalled again in early 2012, the board brought on a new CEO, Joe Army.

Prior to joining the company, Joe observed the powerful impact of this technology in the NICU. As soon as he saw the product in action, he knew where this company could go. Unfortunately, the company was located in an area of the country not known for top medical device talent, so he relocated headquarters to Exeter, NH to be part of greater Boston’s medical device community. Since his start in 2012, the company has grown five-fold and grew from 35 employees to 300 today.

The passion that drives our team inspired Bill to invent the technology, and convinced Joe to join the company, is simply the fact that we directly and positively impact patient lives every day. We help sick, weak patients to thrive on a more comfortable, noninvasive technology. The neonates end up growing stronger as they are comfortably held by their parents, often for the 1st time while on our technology, and end-of-life patients are more comfortable in eating, sleeping and enjoying the remaining time they have with their loved ones. Since inception, the company has served over 1.25 million patients.

That passion comes naturally for many of us at Vapotherm, but it’s something we are diligently reminding our teams about through weekly patient stories, pictures on our walls and an annual Patient of the Year Celebration where we invite families from across the world to come and tell their story of how our Hi-VNI® technology positively changed their lives. This event capstones a week in which all of our teammates spend time in training, community service, team building and celebration. It’s all about the people we have on the team and the patients we serve!

Every nominee is a winner in our eyes, but be sure to nab your NEVYs tickets now — and bring your team — to see who takes home the ultimate prize.

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New England Venture Capital Association (NEVCA) members support entrepreneurs winning. Great VCs depend on great entrepreneurs.

New England Venture Capital Association (NEVCA) members support entrepreneurs winning. Great VCs depend on great entrepreneurs.