Mike Feher learned his financial chops by working at two world giants in their fields—Edwards Lifesciences Corp. (NYSE: EW) in medical devices and Allied Universal in private security.
He took a chance to twice jump into a startup with medical device maker CathWorks in 2019 and again in 2021.
“The biggest thing was seeing and believing in the technology,” Feher said. “I couldn’t pass up seeing that technology come to life.”
Feher’s work at Irvine-based CathWorks has been so impressive that he won a Business Journal CFO of the Year Award in the private company sector at a May 11 ceremony held at the Irvine Marriott.
It’s the second big local award of late for CathWorks, whose Chief Executive Ramin Mousavi was one of five honored at the Business Journal’s 21st annual Excellence in Entrepreneurship Awards in 2022.
Feher, who was born and raised in Orange County, is a 2006 graduate of Chapman University, where he earned a B.S. degree in Accounting and Business Administration.
Chapman is also where met his wife, Christine Feher, currently CEO of California Pacific Charter Schools.
“Chapman’s approach to learning challenged many fundamental beliefs throughout my time there. I love it!” Feher told the university’s newsroom when he was featured as the alumni of the month last September.
“Hearing a large number of varying viewpoints and opinions allows you to form a robust understanding of the world.”
After graduation, he worked as an auditor for Deloitte and an accountant for apparel company Volcom. Along the way, he also earned an MBA from University of Southern California.
He’s established a reputation of creative problem solving and constructing processes to enable organizational growth across multiple industries.
“What I liked most was the ability to be close to numbers and make insights to help the business,” Feher said. “I was always fascinated to get the best return for the company.”
He worked in a variety of financial roles for eight years at Edwards, the second most valuable publicly traded company with headquarters in Orange County.
He is personally aware of the significant impact medical technology can have on people’s lives; his grandmother received a heart valve that Feher helped launch when he worked at Irvine-based Edwards (see story, page 13).
“It made a big impact on her life,” Feher recalled. “She was able to recover within days as opposed to six months or so. It was really rewarding.”
After eight years at Edwards, he jumped to CathWorks, which was founded in 2013 by Israeli inventors, and initially based locally in Aliso Viejo.
The company has developed a new, noninvasive way of diagnosing heart disease.
In the standard testing procedure, a catheter is inserted into a heart and drugs are administered to dilate blood vessels to monitor blood flow. Physicians eyeball X-rays to determine if a stent should be inserted.
By contrast, CathWorks’ FFRangio system uses a noninvasive five-minute procedure that doesn’t require drugs.
It’s a combination of advanced algorithms, artificial intelligence, machine learning and cutting-edge user interface to provide a 3D image of the heart that is color coded.
About 19 million people globally, including 1 million in the U.S., die every year because of heart diseases, about 35% of total global mortality, making it by far the world’s biggest killer, according to CathWorks.
After the pandemic slowed CathWorks’ business, Feher joined Irvine-based Allied Universal, the world’s biggest supplier of private security, to help prep it for a potential IPO.
When Mousavi was hired as head of Cathworks in 2021, he built what he called his “dream team” of top executives, including Feher, who returned to the company.
Last July, Feher helped CathWorks, now based in Irvine, complete a $75 million investment from Medtronic (NYSE: MDT), the world’s largest medical device maker.
As part of the agreement, Medtronic has the option to buy CathWorks in the next five years, at a $585 million valuation, plus other earn-out payments.
“We were looking to finance the company for the long term for either an IPO or an exit,” Feher said. “It’s been meaningful for CathWorks, its shareholders and for patients to get this technology.
“We have revolutionary technology. It was something that I always believed in.”