OwlSpark | Rice University Startup Accelerator | PeopleWise: Jacques Zaneveld
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PeopleWise: Jacques Zaneveld

Jacques Zaneveld is the founder of Lazarus 3D, a company that 3D prints silicone body parts. The common misconception is that all organs look the same, but in reality, they all look different. Everyone’s tumors look different as well. The problem arises when physicians have to prepare for a new surgery with generic alternatives for that operation and they go into the surgery only to find out their practice was not helpful at all because of the variation in body parts. Lazarus 3D is on a journey to solve this issue.

What inspired you to start Lazarus 3D?

While I was working on getting my doctorate at Baylor, I happened to talk to someone on my bus ride home. This person told me he was removing a cyst out of a woman’s ovaries the next day and he practiced his surgery on a green bell pepper—it was called a seedectomy. I found it a little disturbing to hear that these doctors are going into surgeries practically blind. I went home and looked up the statistics on complications and found that 90% of the complications are from physicians who perform the procedure for the first time! That’s where I got the idea that this is something that needs to be fixed. 3D printers were popular then, so my logical progression of thoughts was to think about how I could use this technology to solve this issue and that led me to come up with the idea of 3D printing silicone. I knew 3D printers could print hard plastic, but I needed something soft to imitate organs, so I came up with printing silicone.

What was the most important thing you learned while building your startup?

Having a great idea is 0.01% of the work. Having a working prototype is 1% of the work. There is so much more that goes into building a startup and so many additional steps that need to be taken. A lot of founders get to the idea phase and think with a couple million dollars, they can be successful, but it’s not like that at all. There are so many steps to get to your end goal and it takes a long time. Sometimes you have to pivot a couple of times to be able to raise the money you need for your end goal, but that’s part of the process.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I generally get in between 10 and 11. A lot of my day to day work revolves around what needs to be done and where people need me. If we have a bunch of orders and not enough products, I will go in and help the manufacturing process. If we have a lot of products and not enough orders, I’ll go out and sell. I also handle all of the administrative work, so I will take some time during the day to work on those. Right now, we just got our CPT code and we are working on getting FDA approval. That kind of administrative work is on me.

What are your passions outside of your business?

In my free time, I like to go kayaking and camping. I also enjoy video games.

What advice do you have for startup entrepreneurs?

Make sure you’re doing stuff. It’s not enough to talk about it.