Report Index


Maren Bean, MBA '13
Chief Marketing Officer, Exo Dynamics

The opportunity to become chief marketing officer at U-M medical-device start-up company Exo Dynamics while pursuing her graduate degree in business enabled Maren Bean, MBA '13, to wed her interests in product development and medical technology. Her hands-on experience also prepared her for a new career and catapulted her into a leadership development rotational program at Medtronic Inc. after graduation. “The Zell Lurie Institute was the catalyst behind all this,”says Bean, a San Francisco native who majored in English literature and drew a paycheck at Google for five years before entering the Ross School. “The Institute connected me with inventor Dan Johnson and co-founder Jorge Sanz-Guerro, who invited me to join the Exo Dynamics team in October 2011. It was great exposure to a start-up environment, especially since I had no background in business development or commercialization and had never worked in medical devices.”Both Johnson and Sanz-Guerro earned their graduate degrees at the U-M College of Engineering. During a New Product Innovation course, Bean and her classmates performed a market assessment and concept testing for Exo Dynamics's prototype product. The company is developing an electro-mechanical back brace for medical professionals that prevents injury and lessens pain without reducing mobility. She also represented Exo Dynamics at the Michigan Business Challenge, where it captured the $10,000 Pryor-Hale Runner-up prize and $5,000 Williamson Award for Outstanding Business and Engineering Team. Through the Zell Lurie Institute, Exo Dynamics received a Dare to Dream integration grant, entered the TechArb student start-up accelerator and traveled to business-plan competitions in Nebraska and Michigan. “The Institute was our champion and helped us prepare for these events through its workshops and coaching,”says Bean, who plans to continue as CMO and a board member. “The encouragement we received was important. It was reassuring to know we had people who believed in us and wanted to see us succeed.”