Pioneering Progress

Teri Woodwick Sides follows her passion, learns from collaborators and helps other entrepreneurs.

Fascinated by life sciences and the medtech industry, Teri Woodwick Sides immersed herself in learning everything she could about the field for more than 25 years. Her concentration in the subject led to a prolific career developing new technologies to advance patient care and to launching her own company to help other innovative entrepreneurs do the same.

“In terms of joining strategy and creativity, there is no more rewarding field than medical technology,”  Woodwick Sides says.  

The Maple Grove resident has an extensive background in the medical device industry along with a master’s degree from the Carlson Executive MBA program at the University of Minnesota. As vice president of marketing, product development and customer service for Arizant Healthcare, she led the company in its first year of integration when it was acquired by 3M in 2010.

One of Woodwick Sides’ career highlights is the Bair Paws warming gown she designed for surgical patients. She says the idea percolated after hearing a clinician’s off-hand remark on the subject. “I let my imagination go and sketched out the product concept on the flight home from a customer visit,” she says. “Within days, we had a prototype created.”

The Bair Paws gown serves a dual purpose in preparing a patient for surgery while simultaneously providing for the individual’s comfort. “It’s a single-use, very soft, comfortable gown that has a warming insert on the inside,” she explains.  “[The patient] can hook up to a warming unit that has a hand-held temperature remote; [they] can now adjust their temperature while they’re waiting for surgery.”
The product has benefitted millions of surgical patients. “Although I may have been the spark to get it started,” Woodwick Sides says, “it was the talent and drive of our development team that brought it to life.”

Projects like these keep Woodwick Sides passionate. “Nothing is more satisfying than turning an idea into a solution that advances health care,” she says.

The drive to take her ideas to the next level led the innovative thinker to branch out and establish her own consulting company. Founded in 2011, Projectory helps start-ups and larger companies introduce their improved technologies to the medical field.

“Initially, I started on my own just working out of my home office,” Woodwick Sides says. Eventually, the start-up acquired its own location in Minnetonka, where designer Karen Quist and colleagues Cindy Resman and Hal Grey joined the company to complete the dynamic team.

“We have a variety of clients; some of them are startups where they’ve got a great idea and a patent in hand, and they just don’t know how to go about making this a legitimate medical device, so we help them through the pathway of what steps need to be taken. . . to help give them focus and set them up with the best chance of success.”

With a full schedule, the business owner, wife of 22 years and mother of three junior high and high school aged children still finds balance between a fulfilling career and family life. “While I enjoy the flexibility and balance of life that comes with running your own business, there’s no shortage of hard work,” Woodwick Sides says. “Family is important, so I optimize my work time by starting my day before 5 a.m. and logging extra work hours at odd times. The trick is, love what you are doing so it never feels like work.”

Teri Woodwick Sides
Age: 47

What was the biggest obstacle in launching your company?
Making the big decision…I knew we had done the homework, had the best team to implement and had a clear path to success.

Who’s been most influential to you during the process?
I’ve been fortunate to have a supportive husband and family and an amazing team at Projectory. They keep me balanced and help me stay focused on how to succeed, rather than thinking about what happens if we don’t.

What is your biggest message to new entrepreneurs?
Any true medical innovation will face a lot of naysayers. Engage the critical thinking early in development to verify your idea holds merit and can be successful in today’s market…then go full-steam into development, stay current in your knowledge, and be prepared to address the doubts with confidence. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy the ride.