Guide for young entrepreneurs: advice from Nassib Chamoun

Entrepreneur: Nassib Chamoun
Business founded:  Aspect Medical Systems

Nassib Chamoun is founder of Aspect Medical Systems, the company that developed BIS — a tool used to monitor the brain activity of patients during surgery. He shared his story and words of wisdom with students in Beaver’s entrepreneurship elective.  

Born and raised in Lebanon, Chamoun came to the United States in 1980 to attend Northeastern University in Boston. His second year at NU, he co-oped at the Harvard School of Public Health’s Lown Laboratory, where he worked with medical equipment and learned more about the medical field.

“That co-op was one of the best opportunities I have had in my life because it changed my life,” he said.

After graduating from Northeastern and getting a master’s from Boston University, Chamoun returned to Lown Lab to conduct PhD research in cardiac electrophysiology. Upon observing surgeries and working with anesthesiologists,  he became — in his own words — “obsessed” with the unconscious mind and set out a tool to track unconsciousness.

But what he initially expected to be a 3-year  project morphed into a 10-year endeavor, that included lots of practical and financial challenges: the company was even on the verge of bankruptcy at one point. But that didn’t deter Chamoun.

“The only way you’re going to get at anything is investing the time, he said. “I was never afraid of working hard.”

His persistence paid off. At the end of the decade-long process, Chamoun had developed the BIS. This technology measures an individuals unconsciousness on a scale of zero to 100 — with 100 being awake and zero being dead– and helps ensure a patient receives the correct amount of anesthesia.  Today, BIS is used in 75 percent of operating rooms in the United States – as well as thousands of ORs worldwide.

Chamoun’s keys to success

  • Develop your team …: You have to understand your limitations as well as your strengths. Bringing people on board that complement what you can do is really an integral part of success.
  • ... and treat them right: As a CEO, you want to be there to support the team. It’s important to create an environment where it’s a family and everyone is committed to the same vision.
  • Do what you love: Money is the outcome of what you do but it should never be the driver to get out of bed.
  • Believe in your idea: More important than the idea is that you’re attached to the idea. As long as it’s a solid idea and you’re emotionally attached to it, I think it’s going to resonate with people.
  • Embrace setbacks: Good entrepreneurs turn adversity into opportunity.

More in our guide for young entrepreneurs:

Michael Bronner | Hedy Jarras | David Fialkow | Jeremy Levine | Nassib Chamoun | Mike Hirshland | George Bell | Rick Webb

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