Mike Karim, co-founder and CEO of Oxford Endovascular

Photo of Mike Karim

I am the CEO and co-founder of Oxford Endovascular Ltd, a spinout from Oxford University.
The company is developing a revolutionary medical device to cure brain aneurysms; a life-threatening disease affecting 1 in 50 persons in a strongly growing market valued over $1 billion. In 2017 it won ‘Best Med-Tech Start-Up’ at the Oxford Bio Network awards, 1st place at the BioTrinity ‘Perfect Pitch’ competition, and an award at the ‘European Health Catapult’ finals.
I have nearly 30 years growing international businesses in large corporations & start-ups.
Experienced in strategic planning, execution, team building, gaining regulatory approvals & fundraising including winning a prestigious Horizon 2020 SME instrument grant amongst several others.

I mentor budding entrepreneurs, am a panelist at industry conferences and sit on the ‘Medfit’ steering committee in Paris, France.

What is your background? What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?
I have always been interested in Science and Medicine, especially how innovation, combined with ethical and inclusive economic policies, can save and improve lives of people around the globe.

I decided to become an entrepreneur after spending many years helping several companies to build their organisations taking new technologies to market in multiple countries. I was approached by the University of Oxford to help spin out a fantastic concept with some amazing inventors.

What is your definition of entrepreneurship?
Oxford Endovascular Ltd Logo

To see what is possible and make it happen, for the benefit of others, when many doubt it can be done!

How and when did you know your idea was good enough to develop it?
It is not my idea, but I was convinced by some of the best engineering and medical minds to learn, believe and then set a path of action to build a great development team. Early proof of concept in the lab and a pre-clinical study that was published convinced me that ‘Origami Engineering for the Brain’ could become a reality.

What would you say are the top 3 skills that needed to be a successful entrepreneur? Why?
A vision of what is possible – because focus on realistic goal are vital for success

Not afraid to fail – this is how we learn and succeed; ‘The test of true champions is getting up from defeat’ – Muhammad Ali

Willing to learn from anyone – even the most unassuming will teach you a great deal about oneself. Absorb what is useful!

What is your favourite part of being an entrepreneur?
Overcoming challenges with a great team and celebrating those moments of success……..then going on to the next.

What individual, company or organization inspires you most? Why?
Those women, men and children that have the least but have the optimism to change the world for the better. Malala, Steven Hawking, Steve Biko, AOC and others. Companies that innovate for good and pay their fair share of taxes to give back to society.

If you had 5 minutes with the above individual/ company/organization, what would you want to ask or discuss?
How do we work together to break down more barriers and glass ceilings

What has been your most satisfying or successful moment in business?
Seeing a baby’s life saved with a heart pump that was developed by great engineers, doctors and nurses – seeing the happiness and future in the eyes of the parents

What would you say have been some of your mistakes, failures or lessons learned as an entrepreneur?
Too many to mention but not always listening when I should have, not always taking the time to slow down and reflect; I try to do that more now!

Lesson learned; allow people to have their say before saying one’s piece; always something important to learn

How have you funded your ideas?
Grant funding, VCs, family offices and generous, philanthropic individuals. Also my own time and resources.

Are there any sector-specific awards/grants/competitions that have helped you?
Horizon 2020 SME Intrument, Innovate UK, EIT Health

What is good about being an entrepreneur in Oxfordshire? Bad?
The amazing people and the ecosystem – there are so many people to learn from

One can get a bit insular if not aware – so keep outward looking as well.

If a new entrepreneur or startup came to you looking for entrepreneurship resources, where would you send them?
Oxford University Innovation, Oxford Sciences Innovation, Parkwalk Advisors, Oxford Investment Consultants, Oxford BioNetwork.

Any last words of advice?
Develop resilience as the road is long with many twists and turns. Stay true to helping others and the energy will flow back some day