Family Dinner Recap: Casey Grage of Hubly SurgicalPosted on • Posted in Speakers
by Adrian Ayala-Perez ’26 & Ethan Bledsoe ’26
Guest Speaker Casey Grage, Weinberg ’19, spoke at Family Dinner this week, sharing her journey as founder, CEO, and Product Engineer of Hubly Surgical, a cordless powered cranial drill company that automatically stops when it breaks through the skull. The current norm in medicine is to use a hand-cranked drill for brain surgeries, which is liable to human error. During her sophomore year at Northwestern, Casey took a graduate course called NUvention, which ultimately set her on the path of pursuing entrepreneurship.
Casey spent the majority of her time discussing the various challenges she faced when beginning her startup journey and how she was able to to overcome them. She first described the mechanical challenges she was confronted with, detailing the three different iterations the drill underwent. Next, she talked about the challenges in finding funding when starting out. Over the course of two weeks, she met with investors and received 44 rejections in a row – but she took it in stride. She went back to investors, judges, and mentors and found great success in fundraising after receiving constructive criticism to resolve any gaps in her product design and pricing. With valuable feedback provided by the investors who initially turned her down, she outlined the resource challenges associated with Hubly’s current business model. The cost of goods sold (COGS) was too high with their prototype at the time.
Despite Hubly’s challenges, Casey persisted by demonstrating her commitment to the organization. She and her CTO reinvented the Hubly Drill, its third iteration, to a build with much lower COGS. Casey and the Hubly team have since gone on to file three patents, hire a team, file for FDA Clearance, and win/raise approximately $2 million in funding. They are on track for FDA Clearance and launch within the next two months.
- How did you ride those [company] lows?
- Casey mentioned how receiving purpose from other avenues, such as continuing her education through a master’s program, helped her feel validated when her startup journey hit rough patches.
- How did you manage a team while being far away [location wise] from them?
- Casey talked about how she makes sure her employees know that she’s always available if needed, but wants them to feel empowered to get their work done on their own time, using their own methods.
- Always ask for feedback after pitch competitions and investor meetings.
- Do not be afraid of criticism as it can help improve your business model, pitch, and inform future company goals.
As a Founder in Residence, Casey is available for office hours if you are a Northwestern student interested in learning more about her story or Hubly Surgical.
Adrian Ayala-Perez ‘26 is a Social Policy & Data Science major from Miami, FL. He is a student aide at The Garage, tasked with managing different administrative, marketing, and operations projects. His favorite thing about The Garage is that students are encouraged to grow, fail, build grit, and expand their knowledge.
Ethan Bledsoe ‘26 is a Mathematical Methods in Social Sciences (MMSS) major from West Lafayette, IN. He is a student aide at The Garage, tasked with managing different administrative, marketing, and operations projects. His favorite thing about The Garage is the welcoming and vibrant community of entrepreneurs.