Every MBA student knows it takes resources to launch and maintain a thriving business. But MBA student Brian Conyer was struck by a particular insight: What if the resource was the business?
That’s the idea behind GIBLIB, a digital platform for surgeons to share medical lectures and surgical videos that is the brainchild of Conyer, the incoming president of the Marshall Graduate Student Association–Professionals and Managers.
Conyer was building a promising career in health care sales, first at 3M and then with Intuitive Surgical, a medical device company specializing in surgical robotics, while also a student in the part-time MBA program at the USC Marshall School of Business, when he had his lightbulb moment.
Surgeons were using Dropbox, Facebook and YouTube to post and search for videos, but the venues were inefficient, forcing the physicians to waste hours weeding through unrelated content. They lacked a dedicated resource, one that could easily — and immediately — connect them to a network of colleagues around the globe.
What if, he thought, there was a platform custom-built to address this clear market need? Perhaps a multi-channel video library for surgeons? GIBLIB (named after John Gibbons, inventor of the heart-lung machine) was born.
Conyer credits USC Marshall for helping him take the initial leap into entrepreneurship.
“At Marshall, I was learning how to think like an entrepreneur,” he said, adding that the guest speakers in particular, whose passion for their projects mirrored his own, were particularly inspiring. “I have definitely been given the tools and the mindset to take this on.”
Taking the leap
In 2015, Conyer decided to quit his job and focus on building the company full-time.
From the outset, he said, his pitches were met with enthusiasm.
The response was really great, especially from younger surgeons and students.
“The response was really great, especially from younger surgeons and students,” Conyer said. “I kept hearing things like, ‘This is exactly what we’re looking for — it’s so hard to find good content, and I spend so much time sorting through the noise on the internet.’”
As envisioned by Conyer, GIBLIB would also elevate the surgical content to another level. In addition to providing a platform for surgeons to post their own videos and to watch footage of their colleagues performing new techniques, GIBLIB would also enable surgeons to broadcast live surgeries, offering either a 360-degree or split-screen view of procedures.
“Essentially, we would be digitizing the conference experience, giving leaders and learners in the field a safe place to have clinical discussions,” he said.
Conyer knew that scaling up would require staffing up, and he started close to home, partnering with co-founder and fellow Trojan Jihye Shin ’14.
At the time, Shin was working at Paramount Studios in digital distribution but had done her undergraduate work at Johns Hopkins, where she had originally intended on becoming a surgeon. She and Conyer struck up a conversation at her birthday dinner.
“I realized that GIBLIB was the best of both worlds for me,” Shin said. “A merger of entertainment and health care.”
Conyer eventually persuaded her to come on board full-time.
“We didn’t have the money to take salaries, but I told her to give me a year,” Conyer said.
Shin didn’t have to wait long: Within 10 months, GIBLIB had closed a seed round of funding worth $1 million, thanks to a group of angel investors.
As the company grew, they expanded the circle of Trojan involvement. The next key hire was Jeff Loo, a peer in Conyer’s MBA cohort, as GIBLIB’s director of marketing.
In many ways, Loo observes, the platform sells itself.
“We bring premium content and experts in the field together with an experience that’s responsive on the web and mobile — easy to access and incredibly user-friendly,” he said. “The U.S. leads the pack in terms of offering the best surgeons and facilities in the world, but there’s a global need for training and educating the next generation of surgeons. GIBLIB has huge potential to fill that need.”