OCTANe provides the tools to build better businesses

Ron Bache appears to be well on his way to taking AqueSys Inc. from the fledgling concept that it was in 2009, fresh out of the incubator, and turning it into a successful standalone business.

The company is working on technology that could significantly improve the treatment options available for those who suffer from glaucoma.

“We just closed Series D financing for $43.6 million,” says Bache, the Aliso Viejo, California-based company’s president and CEO. “We are very well set up to accelerate the attainment of our clinical, regulatory and commercial goals.”

Bache’s voice conveys a strong sense of discipline that reflects an understanding of what it takes to build a business. But he is quick to add that he gets as impatient as anyone as he moves along the path toward achieving that goal.

“Everybody wants to climb the mountain as quickly and efficiently as possible,” Bache says. “Most people who do startups are highly driven and performance-oriented people who get impatient.”

Contrast that need for patience and discipline with an evolving world of investors and consumers that is anything but patient and you have both a problem and an opportunity, says Matthew Jenusaitis, president and CEO at OCTANe.

“The problem is it’s hard for people to stay focused,” Jenusaitis says. “You’re barraged with so many things simultaneously and there are so many sources of data and information coming at you so quickly that it’s easy to get distracted. It’s hard to manage it all and maintain any sense of focus.”

That’s the problem. The opportunity is the fact that so much more information and data is now available to entrepreneurs so they can make better decisions and increase the chance their idea will turn into a successful business.

The trick for those leaders is the ability to pick out the good information and leave the other stuff behind.

“You manage impatience through being very goal-oriented and focused on what you are going to do as well as what you’re not going to do,” Bache says. “You attain the vital few objectives that are going to drive the most value for your company.”


Bringing it together
One of OCTANe’s goals is to help young entrepreneurs sort through all that noise and make connections with the resources that can best help their businesses.

“We specifically work with startup companies trying to help them get going,” Jenusaitis says. “Largely what we’re doing is trying to fine-tune their business models and help them secure early-stage capital.”

OCTANe was launched in 2002 to serve as a central catalyst that would link the components that go into creating a strong business community.

The organization’s founders looked at Orange County and saw a number of things they liked. There was a flow of investment dollars, along with a vibrant research and development community, and cornerstone companies that could offer their support.

“The thing we seemed to be missing was that central catalyst,” Jenusaitis says. “That ultimately gave rise to what has become OCTANe.”

With a group such as OCTANe, which is focused on the big picture of what it takes to build a business from startup to established company, entrepreneurs would have a better chance of making the right decisions to help them reach their goals.

In addition to working with specific startups, Jenusaitis says OCTANe does a number of educational programs to address common issues that come up for companies at this stage of growth.

“It might be basic business education,” Jenusaitis says. “It might be technology focused or what’s going on in a specific technology area. What opportunities are being created? What are different investors up to? How do you approach them?

“In addition to the educational component, the people that show up can do networking. They are meeting other like-minded individuals who are coming in from maybe a slightly different perspective. Ultimately, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.”

Bache speaks from personal experience in pointing out the value these kinds of networking opportunities can provide an entrepreneur. Prior to coming to AqueSys, he held positions at Advanced Medical Optics Inc., Philip Morris, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis and Allergan.

“The most important thing is to talk to people who have been successful,” Bache says. “Talk to those who have had challenges and those who are in the middle of them. Do everything you can to shorten your learning curve by learning from the experience of others. Try not to make the same mistakes you could have avoided by being open to new ideas, perspectives and experiences.”

As Bache looks ahead, he sees a bright future for AqueSys and the company’s ability to make a difference in people’s lives.

“We’re well positioned to meaningfully improve the way glaucoma is treated,” Bache says.


Ride the wave
So what does the established business community think about all the effort that goes into helping startups?

“There are a lot of people who are resistant to change,” Jenusaitis says. “But those are the ones who ultimately fall prey to new technologies. It’s the people who embrace change and new things who are ultimately successful in the long run.


While there are always a few companies that are not supportive, the overwhelming majority recognizes that the rising tide floats all the boats.”

He adds that the government also seems to be coming around to the power of what entrepreneurs can do.

“Let these innovators, let these entrepreneurs develop ideas,” Jenusaitis says. “It helps everybody in the long run because as these companies are successful, these ideas stimulate the economy. The stimulated economy generates more taxes and that flows back to the government. Ultimately, by investing in entrepreneurialism, the government can stimulate the economy.” ●

How to reach: AqueSys Inc., (949) 450-0250 or www.aquesys.com