Ken Fairbanks, Tom Mattoon, Robin Beck

Deep Dive
January 3, 2017 By Applied Innovation

Ken Fairbanks


Ken Fairbanks began his career with Hewlett-Packard in a variety of senior sales and business development positions. Most recently, Ken worked for the Duchossis Group, a $2B privately held family holding company located in Chicago. Serving as Sr. Director of Business Development, Ken was responsible for developing and exploring growth strategies across their diverse portfolio of companies.  Ken retired from the Duchossois Group in 2014 and now consults with companies regarding IoT and business development.

Who or what has been your greatest inspiration in life?
My parents taught me the value of family. Lew Platt (CEO, Hewlett-Packard) showed me the importance of integrity and values in conducting your business and personal life.

What is one piece of advice you would share with a new entrepreneur?
Ideas are an important part of the foundation of any new company. However, I would say that 1.) finding diversely skilled co-founders and 2.) spending as much time refining the business development and sales strategy as well are just as crucial. Good ideas rarely succeed and go further without all of these elements working together.

Why did you decide to become a Cove Expert-In-Residence?
I have had a great career that was enhanced by mentors along the way.  I wanted to find a way to contribute my experiences and having spent time in the start-up world; I believe there is a real opportunity to build Orange County as a center for innovation.

Whom would you like to live like for a day?
I have had a blessed life. For that reason, I would not want to give up a day of my life to live as someone else’s for even a day.


Tom Mattoon


Tom Mattoon has over 25 years of experience in the global medical device and technology industries as a financial and operations executive, holding senior finance positions at Medtronic, Covidien, Hewlett-Packard, and Intel. His expertise includes a long history of managing transitions ranging from entrepreneurial to corporate environments. Tom’s experience also includes effectively managing significant growth, driving both financial and operational efficiencies. Career milestones for Tom include accelerating company growth to achieve the number one ranking in global market share.

Additionally, Tom has led organizations from negative to significant and sustainable profitability through strategic planning, tactical execution, and business development. Specialized in growing companies and creating value, Tom enables the introduction of disruptive technologies and solutions to address unmet needs. As a multi-disciplinary executive, Tom directs the transformation of executive teams into a highly accountable, financially focused organization with an intensive operational focus.  He has partnered with cross-functional teams to evaluate significant business development activities including deal model and P&L development, valuation, negotiation support, due diligence, and handling the integration of successful strategic acquisitions with exits that totaled over $1 billion.

Tom holds a BS from the University of Colorado and an MBA from the University of Wisconsin. Currently, Tom is a Partner at Fuel Source Partners, a management consulting and advisory company that is focused primarily on the medical device industry.

Who or what has been your greatest inspiration in life?
Besides my parents, I would say Benjamin Franklin!  Franklin left home at the age of 17 in pursuit of life with many different chapters. Some of these chapters include being: a statesman, ambassador, businessman, inventor, scientist, author, progressive thinker, revolutionary, and renowned kite flier!  He helped draft the US Declaration of Independence, negotiated the Treaty of Paris that ended the Revolutionary War, and was a delegate to the convention that produced the US Constitution. He was a unique statesman in the sense that he was able to bridge the gaps between different sides of crucial and divisive issues, such as US independence. His ability to compromise to move people forward together is a critical skill that is often in short supply.

In addition to being a true Renaissance man, I have always admired the list of virtues he vowed to live by. Some of these values include order, resolution, justice, sincerity, industry, tranquility, and humility.  I have always tried to follow in his footsteps by taking the high road, making decisions based on what is right and fair, and to live with integrity.  These values were paramount in choosing my business partners at Fuel Source Partners. I wanted to work with people with the same values and complimentary skill sets.

What is one piece of advice you would share with a new entrepreneur?
Ben Franklin said, “Energy and persistence conquer all things!”  Be able to clearly define the problem you are solving and your unique solution to that problem.  It is imperative that you truly understand your market and your customers and also assemble the right team.   Ask for help and advice.  Don’t rely on a single advisor or mentor.  Also, making incorrect or uninformed decisions can have serious and disastrous consequences on your business. You can avoid these perils by working with complimentary advisors to reduce risk and help uncover potential issues.  Ben Franklin also said, “The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness.  You have to catch it yourself.”  Good luck!

Why did you decide to become a Cove Expert-In-Residence?
To give back to the community and provide entrepreneurs access to my experience so they can hopefully learn from mistakes I have made. I also wanted to be engaged with new companies and technologies, learn from others, and meet like-minded people.

Whom would you like to live like for a day?
Henry Kissinger during his term as Secretary of State!  After immigrating to the US, Kissinger became a brilliant author, foreign policy scholar, National Security Advisor, Secretary of State, and more.  Kissinger had a unique ability to bridge diametrically opposite positions to help reach agreements and move international relations forward.  His shuttle diplomacy missions in the Middle East ultimately produced disengagement agreements between countries in the area and ended the OPEC oil embargo. He was a key figure in negotiating the Paris peace talks that ended US involvement in the Vietnam War, for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize.  Kissinger was a key promoter of détente, which resulted in the thawing of the Cold War relations between the Soviet Union and the US.  He was the principal American diplomat that successfully established relations with China.  It is especially notable that he was able to accomplish so much working with world leaders when, in his words, “Ninety percent of politicians give the other ten percent a bad reputation!”  What a wealth of knowledge he has to offer!.


Robin Beck


Decades ago, advertising executive Robin Beck recognized the life-threatening risks to patients and healthcare workers from a new disease which became known as AIDS.  She quickly embarked on a mission to develop a method for protecting doctors and additional healthcare providers from infection resulting from needle sticks and other piercings during surgical procedures.  Her mission resulted in Robin securing 11 patents for Double-Layer and Antimicrobial Surgical Gloves to reduce the risk of AIDS and other infectious diseases.  Robin’s experience as an innovator and in licensing new technology has since transformed into a passion for working with scientists, researchers and other innovators to develop creative solutions to problems affecting the public’s health.  Her latest technologies in development are an early sepsis indicator in addition to an early indicator for autism in newborns.

Who or what has been your greatest inspiration?
I am inspired by the challenge of solving large-scale problems that can improve public health.  I find it very exciting to learn about current research at UCI and how aspects of these advances can be translated to provide solutions to problems on a global scale.

What is one piece of advice that you would share with an entrepreneur?  
An inventor/entrepreneur must excel at ‘opposites’–that is, they must look at their invention from the ten-thousand-foot level to understand all the ways how their advancement could find its place in commerce while at the same time focusing on every detail to make sure the initial prototype works. They must patent as broadly as possible to give them room to adjust along the way. Additionally, they will need to narrow their focus to an initial product designed to meet a particular need. It will also need to be something that can be produced and marketed cost-effectively-–while also contending with regulatory and other governmental requirements.  I would say success lies in being focused AND flexible.

Why did you decide to become a Cove Expert-in-Residence?
After serving on the UCI Board for Clinical and Translational Science, I found it exciting and rewarding to work with UCI scientists and entrepreneurs to take their technology to market.  These interactions led to my introduction to The Cove and joining the EIR Program.

Whom would you like to live like for a day and why?   
I do not know if there is an individual in this kind of role, but I would like to increase the profile of innovation in the UC system. Exploring this further, I would start by devising a U.C.I.Q. (University of California Innovation Quotient) Test to help recruit promising students based on their innovative thinking and how they see the world.


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