Susan Wuollett ’11 M.B.A. and her husband Michael Wuollett ’11 M.B.A. came to St. Thomas determined to climb their respective corporate ladders, with no intention of following in the footsteps of their entrepreneurial families. But then they entered the Fowler Business Concept Challenge for a shot at a $10,000 scholarship … and won.
Four years later, ClotIt, the patent-pending product the team now sells as Protégé Biomedical, is being sold to veterinarians and pet owners. Made from a combination of two powdered minerals that rapidly stops bleeding when applied to a cut or laceration, it evolved from the concept for a “styptic fibrin bandage” they submitted in the Fowler Business Concept Challenge. After the judges encouraged them to dig deeper into the concept, the Wuolletts found a gap in the marketplace without a patent and decided to turn their concept into a company. Protégé Biomedical draws its name from the idea that they are the protégés of many talented mentors and advisers they connected with at St. Thomas while building the company.
Today, the company operates out of the Schulze Hall Business Development Offices on the Minneapolis campus. It has secured three investments from the William C. Norris Institute, which led to an additional $500,000 investment from an outside investor in January 2014.
Michael, a veteran of the medical device industry, works full time as the CEO. Susan works full time at a Fortune 100 company but spends her “free time” as Protégé’s president. “Being married, having a business, but not both working in it full time is a unique challenge,” Susan said. “We established some rules. We don’t talk about the company when we’re at home unless we make an appointment. We’ll go to our home office and say ‘Okay, let’s start the meeting,’ and end ‘Okay, meeting adjourned.’ This keeps a little sanity in the business for us.”
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