Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your story. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Andy Gotshalk: I’m originally from Boston. I was born and raised there and also finished high school there. I went on to college at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. What I really wanted was Biomedical Engineering but at that time, there weren’t that many schools that offered a Bachelors in Biomedical Engineering. At Georgia Tech, I could pick either Mechanical or Electrical Engineering and then get a certificate in Bioengineering. I officially had a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Certificate in Bioengineering.
Sramana Mitra: What year did you graduate from college?
Andy Gotshalk: I graduated in 1996.
Sramana Mitra: The Internet has already started.
Andy Gotshalk: Yes. I think it was a pretty cool time to be in college from 1992 to 1996. The Internet was there. It was very different from what it is today. Email was just starting. Cellphones were pretty new.
Sramana Mitra: What did you do after college?
Andy Gotshalk: The first thing I did was I stayed in Atlanta for the Olympics. Personally, I’m a very competitive person. I love sports. I actually feel that the competitive nature in me is something that’s very common in a lot of successful entrepreneurs. I love the concept of Olympics and people from all over the world getting together to compete. I actually made it a point to stay in Atlanta for the Olympics. I worked there and had a fantastic time.
But then I needed to get back into the real world. I moved back to Boston and started working at a company called Haemonetics. They’re based out of Braintree, Massachusetts. It’s a medical device company that made blood processing equipment. I started as a Field Service Engineer.
My first position was actually in New York. I was servicing New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. I didn’t start out of college being an entrepreneur, but my goals were to move up pretty quickly and start to understand business a little bit better so that I could see what things I would want to run. I thought I was very fortunate with the opportunities that I had in terms of different positions I had at that company.
One of the first milestones for me was I took on Business Design. It was a two-person department. Haemonetics is a $300 million to $400 million company. I was the Manager of Business Design. Basically, we were like internal consultants. We were charged with trying to find best practices in our industry but in different aspects of it and then try to put them in place. The big thing that was going on at that time was TQM. I brought in a lot of those tools.
That, in itself, was pretty good but what it did was expose me to a lot of different parts of the company that I didn’t know anything about. I brought in the idea of concept engineering in our R&D team. I did a project with our Finance team on how they hedge their foreign currency. I did things in lean manufacturing. We implemented a new CRM system. I was a part of all those projects so it gave me a great window into what makes an organization tick.