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ARK Challenge: Spencer Jones’ Light Bulb Moment Could Benefit Patients

3 min read

(Editor’s note: This is the sixth in a series of profiles about the startups competing in the fourth installment of the ARK Challenge accelerator, underway in downtown Little Rock. ‘ARK 4’ will culminate in its Demo Day, scheduled for Nov. 12 at the Clinton Center, where startups pitch their final products for a chance to win $150,000 in additional investment. The series began with Little Rock ventures My Color of BeautyAcorn Hours, and TaglessEatiply, founded in Minneapolis; and Politapoll of Rogers. Next up is Jones Innovative Medical Solutions of Little Rock.)

The road to entrepreneurship takes many different routes. For some, entrepreneurship seems to exist as part of their DNA. For others, a light bulb moment illuminates the way.

Spencer Jones, 23, a Conway native and University of Arkansas graduate, is part of that latter group of entrepreneurs who, happily traversing a chosen career path, figured out a way to do something better. And….light bulb… an entrepreneur was born.

For Jones, that light bulb moment came earlier this year as he was finishing up nursing school at the UA. Empathizing with his patients to whom he was charged with drawing blood — especially the diabetics, who had to act as symbolic pin cushions as blood was drawn and finger pricks delivered to check blood sugar levels — Jones realized there had to be a better way.

He developed the patent-pending BVAD — Bifurcated Venous Access Device — which provides hospitals with a “one stop” blood draw system. One site for both IV fluid administration and blood draws. It’s a method that Jones says is more efficient for hospitals and pain-free for patients.

Now a medical surgical nurse resident working full time at St. Vincent Infirmary in Little Rock, Jones is working up a prototype through his startup Jones Innovative Medical Solutions that he hopes to have ready by ARK 4 Demo Day on Nov. 12. His association with Innovate Arkansas led him to apply for the ARK Challenge.

“I never had any entrepreneurial leanings,” he said. “But once I came up with the idea and got plugged into Innovate Arkansas, I leaned a lot and thought this is what I like doing.”

He’s even working on another entrepreneurial idea — one outside the health-care arena that could even match BVAD’s potential.

It’s apparent the light bulb still hums. But for now, the focus remains on developing the BVAD and getting it to market. That’s going to be possible, Jones said, thanks to an investment from ARK mentor David DePoyster of North Little Rock.

DePoyster owns medical venture development firm MedSource and Multiline Medical, a health-care device distributor and consulting firm. That connection was the perfect fit for Jones.

“It brought so many things to the table,” he said. “David’s not your typical angel investor. He knows his stuff in this field. This investment is what’s gonna take us to market.”

It’s all happened so fast that Jones admitted he had to step back and pinch himself.

Jones expects BVAD to be market-ready in about 18 months. Initially, target clients will be hospitals, and nurses will be the end-users. Most importantly, the patients will be the primary beneficiaries.

“I really feel like this a leap forward for patient advocacy,” Jones said. “With this, hospitals can say, ‘Come here and you won’t be a pin cushion.'”

(Catch Jones on Wednesday at 9 a.m. for 1 Million Cups from the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce.)



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