Manny Villafaña - Serial Entrepreneur and Inventor
Manny Villafaña, a nationally recognized entrepreneur and medical device developer, was born in the South Bronx, New York.
Manny began his medical career at Picker International, a medical device exporter, in White Plains, NY. In March of 1967, he joined Medtronic which, at that time, had annual sales of approximately $3-4 million.
After being involved with the development of sales of the then recently introduced Medtronic pacemaker, he also helped develop the product in the Latin American market by living in Argentina for two years as their Latin American Sales Manager.
In 1972, after returning to Minnesota, Manny founded CPI/Guidant and developed the first lithium powered pacemakers and defibrillators. This technology is incorporated in virtually every defibrillator and pacemaker in the world. CPI was purchased by Boston Scientific for $27 billion.
In 1976, he became the co-developer of the St. Jude heart valve and founder of St. Jude Medical, Inc. Today, this is the most commonly use prosthesis in the world. There are over 5 million patients with the St. Jude heart valve implanted. Abbott Medical of Chicago recently paid $30 billion for St. Jude Medical.
Manny went on to develop several other companies, including ATS Medical in which he developed the new generation ATS heart valve. ATS is now part of Medtronic, Inc. through a purchase in 2010 of $400 million.
Villafaña continues his work revolutionizing cardiac surgery. His most recent effort is Medical 21, Inc. in Plymouth, Minnesota. His team is developing an artificial artery to be used during bypass CABG surgery, promising to eliminate the harvesting of vessels from the patient. Currently, preclinical trials are completed and human trials will begin in 2023. The potential market is bigger than the combined markets of pacemakers, heart valves, and defibrillators.
Manny has done seven (7) financial IPOs, raising capital for his companies and charities over 45 different times.
Villafaña is: globally recognized as the “Living Legend of Medicine,” an honor bestowed on him by The World Society of Cardiothoracic Surgery in
2006; an award winning USA Master Entrepreneur; a member of the Minnesota Business Hall of Fame; and an inductee into MN Science and Technology Hall of Fame. Manny was recently honored by his hometown of The Bronx, New York by having a Street named “Manny Villafaña Street.” He was inducted into the Halls of Fame of both The Boys’ & Girls’ Club of America (Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club) and Cardinal Hayes High School and received the Medical Design Association Lifetime Achievement Award and Minnesota Business Lifetime Award.
For his work in the medical field and his teaching/lectures at Harvard, Universities of Minnesota, Iowa, Notre Dame, Miami of Ohio, Stanford, Brown, St. Olaf, and others, Manny became a recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Iowa.
In Minnesota, October 27, 2016 was proclaimed “MANNY VILLAFAÑA’s DAY” by the then Governor and Lt. Governor, Mark Dayton and Tina Smith.
Most of all, Manny recognizes and honors the many great teams of dedicated employees, doctors, scientists, financial advisors, and – especially - the love and support of his wife of 40 years, Elizabeth Elder Villafaña of Mason City, Iowa; his family of Manuela, Elisa, Michael, Jude, and Ann Marie and his greater families of Blackwells, Keoughs, and Lyons. God has blessed Manny, for which he is very grateful.
Pivotal Moments and Critical Decisions – Insights from 50 years as a serial medtech entrepreneur