Local Memphis News: Channel 24 (ABC) Local Biz: 'Sweet Bio' Makes Mid-South Home

By Brandon Artiles | bartiles@localmemphis.com

Published 01/11 2016 04:13PM

Updated 01/11 2016 06:40PM

localmemphis.com

 

The trio behind a Memphis bio-tech start-up are ready to introduce their product to the dental world.

The company is called Sweet Bio.

Usually when you associate something sweet with dentistry, you think cavities. Not with honey though. At least not the way Issac Rodriguez uses it.

"That membrane is there to help prevent the gums from growing into that hole," Issac Rodriguez of Sweet Bio said. 

The membrane he is talking about is made out of all-natural manuka honey and proteins which regenerate bone and tissue The 30-year-old Virginia native has been working on it at this University of Memphis engineering lab for the past three years.

"This is a great product. We can do as much as we can all day in the lab, but this needs to be out there helping people,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez's mentor, Gary Bowlin, helped him develop it. To sell it he would need a team.

A year ago Isaac’s sister 28-year-old Kayla Rodriguez, specializing in business, came on as COO and 24-year-old Marsalas Whitaker, a recent grad of U of M’s engineering program, is Chief Medical Officer.

"When this opportunity came across the table I immediately jumped to it, because I already had vast knowledge of start-ups as-well-as a lot of knowledge in bio-materials," Whitaker said.

Investors jumped, too. Several venture capital firms putting up $1 million for the medical device start-up.   

"We're a team of three, so you really need an army behind you and Memphis provided that. We are so proud and thrilled and humbled to be here," Rodriguez said.

With investor financing, they are now manufacturing the membranes. They hope to get FDA approval by the end of the year, with Sweet Bio in the hands of dentist's in early 2017.

The owners had a choice between San Francisco and Memphis for Sweet Bio's home. They chose the Bluff City because of the strong presence of medical device companies like Medtronic and Smith and Nephew. They mentioned southern hospitality, too.

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