Meet November Pitch Presenter #1: Adam Steege, Trio Labs

Nov 01

I was introduced to Adam Steege, founder, president and chief technology officer of Trio Labs, by another investor in the angel space, John Lilly. He is impressed with the company’s novel imaging technology and materials manipulation techniques that enable rapid, high-precision, additive manufacturing of micro parts needed in medical devices. Given our group’s interest in life sciences startups and expertise in the medical device industry, I invited Adam to present to VisionTech’s Screening Committee. We were also impressed by Trio Labs’ technology and traction and agreed he should present at our November Pitch Events. Here’s a sneak  preview.

BP: Tell me about how Trio Labs came to be.
AS: I’m a serial entrepreneur and inventor. One of my previous companies was Agile Endo-surgery that developed articulated surgical instruments to expand the scope of minimally invasive surgery. During my six years with Agile, I really took a deep dive into medtech and more importantly, surgical trends pointing to the need for better, more cost-effective options for micro manufacturing on a millimeter scale. I recognized an opportunity to leverage metal additive manufacturing processes at the desired resolution of five microns, but do it at a high-volume manufacturing scale, something no one else was doing. Trio Labs uses its own technology to produce these miniaturized parts using ultra high-resolution 3D printing of metals. The manufacturing process is different. What’s also different is that we’re selling parts, not 3D printers.

BP: What pain points did you see in the medical device market that you are solving?
AS: Medtech is demanding miniaturization for surgical instruments and hollow microneedles to meet clinical demands. Here’s an example: vascular surgeries where the surgeon needs to deploy a valve in a heart procedure and a lot of small components are required to enable this mechanism. Other technologies can’t address this size. Here’s another example: the surgeon has to pull a clot in a stroke patient in blood vessels smaller than 1mm. Small parts make this type of life-saving instrumentation possible. The reality of human anatomy versus existing technology causes a significant pain point. With our ability to create micro parts with precision and manufacture at high volume will solve a lot of industry—and patient—pain.

BP: Additive manufacturing has been around for a while. Manufacturing at scale has been the challenge. What’s your value proposition?
AS: Frankly, our ability to scale manufacturing beyond prototyping is a large part of our value proposition. Couple that with the fact that we’re making high throughput micro manufacturing possible for the first time is significant. Innovators within the medical device and micro needle spaces looks at that and their eyes get big as it opens up so many doors to future innovation. In that respect, Trio Labs’ ability to produce micro components with exacting precision and in desired volumes makes us unique and a powerful partner.

BP: How large is the market? What are your priorities in terms of market segments?
AS: Globally, it’s a multi-billion market. We’ve identified several segments. First, minimally invasive surgical devices which has a total addressable market of $50 billion. The next largest segment is microneedles used for pain-free drug delivery and diagnostics. This includes auto injectors, infusion systems and blood sampling devices. Globally, this represents a $20 billion market. Diabetes care is a sub-segment of the microneedle application space. It represents a $5 billion market in the U.S. alone. Diabetes is a global issue so this is the tip of the iceberg.

Trio Labs surgery

BP: What’s your traction like thus far?
AS: We have nine customers, many of them household names, with strong interest. They have sent us design files to begin working on. Our model is to acquire customers are the R&D stage and support development. This way our micro parts are specified in the device and support volume production. With all of the innovation in minimally invasive surgical devices as well as in other areas, we believe this approach is sound. We expect to start generating revenue before the end of this year.

BP: What kind of IP protection do you have?
AS: Our goal is to have a massive IP portfolio all of which we will own. We are currently working on global patents in 10 jurisdictions. These include our core process and provisional patents. When we’re done, we will have a few hundred patents, which will support our exit strategy.

BP: What does the competitive landscape look like?
AS: Micro manufacturing is very difficult to do and do well and that limits competition. However, there are options to Trio Labs: metal injection molding, CNC machining and electrochemical manufacturing. Each has its own set of limitations like cost, speed or lack thereof, and inability to meet the very precise micro specifications at scale. Trio Labs has proven our technology and we can produce at scale at very attractive margins, giving us a competitive advantage over these traditional manufacturing methods.

BP: This is a $6 million Series A and you’ve raised $5.5M. Who are the other investors? What will the proceeds be used for?
AS: We’ve gotten excellent support for our Series A so far. Two of our board members have personally invested, and we’ve also gotten support from VentureSouth and the Harvard Business School Alumni Angels Association. We hope to add VisionTech to our cap table.

In terms of use of funds, we intend to build out our manufacturing infrastructure in 2022. Also, our Series A gives us the runway to continue developing strategic partnerships and ramping up the development projects in our pipeline.

BP: What’s your exit  potential?
AS: We believe we will have a number of options, one of which is to be acquired by a larger medical device company that will seize the opportunity to control the micro manufacturing space. Another option is to go the IPO route.

BP: Why should VisionTech Angels invest in Trio Labs?
AS: Trio Labs is truly defining a new space in the medical device industry and as minimally invasive surgical procedures have become the norm, the demand for smaller devices and miniaturized parts has grown exponentially. We have the technology, processes, and ability to scale to meet this demand. Our leadership and advisory team are truly impressive. Among our advisors is Bill Hawkins, former CEO of Medtronic, and Stephen Nigro, former president of 3D Printing at HP. Bill, Stephen, and our other advisors are actively involved in our strategy and day-to-day operations. Finally, the impact we can make on patients’ lives and potential financial return for investors will be significant.

To learn more about Trio Labs, visit their website. VisionTech Angels’ November Pitch Events will be virtual on Thursday, November 18 at Noon ET and at 6 p.m. ET. Pitch events are open to our members and accredited investors interested in joining our group. To register, check your email for an invitation, go to our Events page or email Ben Pidgeon at