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Silverglide Surgical Technologies (A)

By John Mullins


This is a two-case series. From a rocky perch above the city of Boulder, Colorado, Jon Thorne gazed across the city and onto the great plains that stretched eastward before him. ‘There’s nothing like a vigorous mountain bike ride into the hills,’ Thorne thought, ‘when crucial decisions have to be deliberated.’ It was a summer afternoon in 1999, and Thorne had devoted much of the past three years developing and taking to market a surgical instrument that he thought had the potential to significantly improve surgical practice. Though the feedback from surgeons had been excellent, Thorne’s company, Silverglide Surgical Technologies, Inc, had little to show for his efforts. The $80,000 in start-up capital that Thorne had raised was nearly gone and his company’s sales to date ’rounded to zero,’ as a member of his advisory board had remarked at a board meeting earlier that week. Was it time to broaden his company’s market focus from plastic surgeons into other surgical specialities? Was it time to abandon the probe and develop a new product line? Or should he abandon his entrepreneurial dream and return to a salaried job in the medical products industry from which he had come?

Learning objectives

  1. Understand the challenges of a new venture in which the entrepreneur elects to ‘bootstrap’ the business, rather than the more typical model of seeking significant start-up funding.
  2. Understand how to evaluate classic Plan A vs Plan B scenarios; including which markets to target and which products to offer.
  3. Understand why choosing the most attractive target markets is even more important for early-stage entrepreneurs than other types of company.
  4. Apply the Ansoff growth matrix if a decision setting.


Publication Date: January 2008
LBS Case Code: CS-08-016
Subjects: , , ,
Pages: 12
Format: pdf