Ramin Mousavi calls himself an “overachiever” who aims to read a new nonfiction book every week.
He not only has two Bachelor of Science degrees in electrical and computer engineering from the University of California, Irvine, he also earned an MBA there. He attended a one-year post graduate healthcare executive program at the Harvard Business School.
He led a team that helped launched Sapien 3 Transcatheter Heart Valve System at Edwards Lifesciences Corp. (NYSE: EW), where he oversaw the launch of its minimally invasive solution in the United States.
In 2021, he became the chief executive and president of an up-and-coming cardiac-focused device maker, CathWorks, that has the potential to radically change the current methods to diagnose heart disease, which last year killed an estimated 19 million globally.
Mousavi was one of five honored at the Business Journal’s 21st annual Excellence in Entrepreneurship Awards held on May 26 at the Irvine Marriott.
Think of the Irvine-based company’s product “as a two-dimensional X-ray on steroids, creating a noninvasive 3D image, coupled with artificial intelligence and predictive analytics,” Gordon MacLean, a partner in RJI CPAs, said when presenting the award before an audience of 300 at the Irvine Marriott.
A native of Iran, Mousavi’s parents brought him and his sister to the U.S. when he was a teenager in the 1990s. His sister, Roudabeh Mousavi, became the chief financial officer of Pact Engineering, which provides services for municipal water systems.
“My parents had a fairly comfortable life that they sacrificed so my sister and me could have a better life,” Mousavi recalled. “It had become clear that Iran wasn’t a place that we could stay. Their future didn’t look the way like they wanted to.
“They certainly made the right move from my perspective. They could have retired comfortably there. They had to start from scratch.”
After a year at Panasonics Avionics Corp., Mousavi jumped to Edwards in 2010, where he worked in a variety of roles. In 2019, he decided to become the marketing chief at CathWorks, then based in Aliso Viejo and headed by Jim Corbett, a former president at Boston Scientific.
“The thing that I’m good at is building something from the ground,” Mousavi said. “When you launch a technology from scratch, that experience is very special, especially if you have something that affects people’s lives.”
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, Mousavi said.
The potential addressable testing market is around $5 billion to $6 billion, he estimated.
In the current 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.
“You’re trying to identify a 3D problem by looking at a 2D low quality,” Mousavi said.
By contrast, CathWorks’ FFRangio system uses 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.
It’s a noninvasive 5-minute procedure that doesn’t require drugs.
The company, which was founded in Israel in 2013, has a “strong family of patents,” Mousavi said. The company’s website said studies have shown its system “is proven to improve patient outcomes, cut costs and reduce unnecessary stenting.”
The CathWorks test costs about $700, half the normal test procedure using a catheter, he said. Large competitors like Philips, Abbots and Boston Scientific don’t have incentives to cannibalize their current revenue streams, he said.
“We’ve seen some smaller companies looking at this space—competition is always good. It keeps you on your toes. As a first mover, we have an opportunity to be the standard.”
The pandemic, which caused hospitals to limit many procedures, affected the company as well, he said. Mousavi took a step away from CathWorks in 2020 when the CEO of Baxter International Inc. recruited Mousavi to build a patient monitoring unit.
However, CathWorks called him back a year later with an offer to become CEO and a member of the board of directors.
Since becoming CEO almost a year ago, Mousavi has made several notable changes such as introducing a subscription model so hospitals can use it as often as needed.
In recent months, he’s made key hires such as Chief Financial Officer Mike Feher, a former executive at global security giant Allied Universal and Edwards; U.S. Sales Chief Duraid Antone, former co-founder of BioStructures and Radius Medical and a member of the Board of Trustees at UCI Medical Affairs; Chief Alex Froimovich, MD, an industry veteran from Boston Scientific; and head of Advanced Analytics Fabian Ngo, an architect of one the first medical device industry analytics team at Edwards.
The company currently has 75 employees with plans to add 40 in the coming three months.
Mousavi moved the company’s headquarters to Irvine’s Boardwalk office towers, where it sits a few blocks down the street from the new $1.3 billion medical complex being built at University of California, Irvine.
He noted that CathWorks often brings physicians from around the world to show them its system and can then introduce them to UCI.
“We’re hoping to make UCI a center of excellence,” he said.
The company is already on its fourth generation of its product, which is available in the U.S. and Japan. The company is just starting to generate revenue, which may soon top an estimated $10 million run rate.
CathWorks is a venture-back company with investors like Deerfield Management Co., which is known for healthcare investment, and other medical device makers.
Mousavi helped the company complete two prior funding rounds, a Series C for $30 million and a Series D also for $30 million. Its next Round E could help it expand into Western Europe and Asia Pacific and may set the stage for an IPO, he said.
“We came very close to not making it, but have stuck it out,” he said.