Medical device startup stumbles in industry rooted in loyalty

The promising future of medical supply distributor startup Bttn is faltering, partly because older supply companies have yearslong customer loyalty on their side, Forbes reported June 28. 

Seattle-based Bttn was seen as a disruptor after securing a valuation at $110 million, the news outlet reported, after it received more than $20 million in funding rounds. Its outlook has since fallen because of supply chain issues, less investor support and systems' reluctance to leave their supply distributors.

"If you're going up against regional hitters, which is what we were trying to do, I mean they smoked us at every step," Chris Henderson, a Bttn account executive who worked there for six months before quitting in late 2022, told Forbes. "There wasn't a reason for a lot of these folks to switch over to us or give us a shot."

Mr. Henderson said employees were urged to give customers false shipping-time estimates. Founder and CEO JT Garwood denied this accusation, according to Forbes, but acknowledged back-order problems and a market not keen on investing. 

"It's been brutal," Mr. Garwood said.

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