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16 March 2006

Sleep Science

Using some research about a new way to stop people from snoring, Peter Farrell started up his own business.

LUISA SACCOTELLI: How's this for a company slogan: wake up to sleep. Think it could catch on? Well, safe to say something is working for Resmed, a biotech company which is proof, if it were needed, that Australian inventions can make it big and globally. Founder, Professor Peter Farrell, never had any doubt.

PETER FARRELL: Personally, I tend to be a little competitive, not to a crazy extent. But I think also a fetish to deliver results. I think you just have to have a sense of urgency.

LUISA SACCOTELLI: We're in Sydney where Resmed founder, Professor Peter Farrell started out 15 years ago building up what is now a market-leading $2,600,000,000 company specialising in the treatment of sleep disorders.

PETER FARRELL: In business, if you like, as in life what counts is execution. So the three most important things in business are execution, execution and execution. Our technology is at the forefront. We get it and we're executing properly.

LUISA SACCOTELLI: There's been nothing snoozy about Resmed's awakening from academia into a company with a record 39 consecutive quarters of growth and profits of half a billion, all emanating from a single, strange idea from a professor at Sydney University.

PETER FARRELL: Somebody came to me with this opportunity of treating snoring sickness with a reverse vacuum cleaner, which was Colin Sullivan, and I thought it was goofy, I must say. He had this Darth Vader mask like a house brick on this guy's face and had it connected to a pump that you could have run your swimming pool on, and it sounded like a freight train, and then he told me that the guy uses this every night, and I was just in disbelief.
So fast forward, Colin told me that the prevalence of this in the world was two per cent. We now know that it's 20 per cent of the adult population. I got in then, and renal disease is like 0.2, and Baxter had built a billion dollar business. So I thought, well, $10,000,000,000 business, say it's only 5,000,000,000, and it turns out that it's so much bigger than we ever thought it would be.

LUISA SACCOTELLI: He's been described in the finance press as a combative character. Farrell happily plays up to it, but reveals putting business first has not been without personal costs.

PETER FARRELL: I think you do pay a bit of a price for doing this sort of thing. On a personal level, you know, I'm divorced. I have three kids. The children were born in Montreal, Boston, Seattle, which kind of reflects us bumming around the world, I guess. So I think it does cause a strain in relationships and I guess you just get though it as best you can.
LUISA SACCOTELLI: His personal remedy is a good night's sleep, which can only help Resmed's bottom line.

PETER FARRELL: We've put about 1.5 million people on treatment, and we haven't started. It's like a marathon and we're lacing our shoes. This is billions and billions of dollars and we're at the absolute forefront of this technology and we will stay there.

story notes

 catch on
Something that catches on becomes popular.
Example: Using mobile phones has really caught on in the last decade.
For more meanings of the phrasal verb catch on, follow the link below to our language library.
more information: catch on

Here, tends means is likely. Peter is likely to be competitive.

A fetish is a strong desire or obsession.

 deliver results
achieve things

Urgency refers to a sense of speed and importance. The adjective is urgent.

Execution refers to the way something is done. The execution of a plan is the way it is actually carried out, or put into action.
Peter says that the three most important things are ‘execution, execution, and execution’ - he’s just making a joke by saying that execution is the only thing that really matters.

Consecutive means in a row.

A quarter refers to three months.

coming from

Here, lacing means tying up the laces on a pair of shoes. Peter is saying that the company has only just started. If this is a race, they’re still getting ready for it -so there’s a lot more success to come.