From the Magazine: Not Your Average Joe

Joe Mullings

Medtech CEO and docuseries host Joe Mullings has beat the odds in more ways than one

To our knowledge, Joe Mullings has not exactly marketed himself as “the Anthony Bourdain of the medical device world,” but the shoe fits.

Mullings admits he took some inspiration from the late gastro-traveler’s “Parts Unknown” when he developed his own web series, “TrueFuture,” in 2019. In the series, which has spanned four seasons so far, Mullings travels to locations as near as Wynwood and as far-flung as Israel and Flagstaff, Arizona. Instead of sampling global cuisine, Mullings seeks out entrepreneurs specializing in disruptive technologies in science and medicine. Like Bourdain, Mullings is a personality-driven narrator who looks the part of a tattooed bad boy, and he leaves time in each episode for the local color behind the tech.

“You could say Bourdain was a food show, but I don’t think anybody who followed Bourdain cared about what food was on the table,” says Mullings, from his production studio in Delray Beach. “They cared about, what was Anthony going to do next? … We took notes from that.

“It catapulted our business even further into the industry, because we did it for free. It was self-funded. Each of those seasons cost me somewhere between $250,000 and $350,000 cash out of my own pocket. But our goal was to tell the amazing stories about the industry, and share them with the 150,000 people throughout the U.S. who are in that industry. We shined a light on things that people weren’t aware of.”

Mullings can afford to produce his show on YouTube on the strength of his lucrative day job as CEO of The Mullings Group, touted as the world’s largest search firm in the medtech industry. He’s a headhunter, matching job seekers at major companies with their ideal personnel. He started the business in a two-desk office in Coral Gables in 1992, and has operated in Delray Beach for the past 20 years.

Today, Mullings does business on six continents and is soon to outgrow his 10,300-square-foot office. He credits part of his firm’s success to his ability, three decades ago, to forecast game-changing trends in the growing field of medtech. He recalls thinking, “People are going to want to live longer and healthier lives. … And I’m fascinated with the human body. You’ve got so many disease states to manage, and so many different technologies to manage them. Nobody will be able to keep up to us in regards to teaching it.”

In addition to running The Mullings Group, Mullings produces his own and custom video content, including “TrueFuture” and similarly themed video podcasts and interview series. Yet every day is something of a blessing for Mullings, who at one point was told he might not live to his current age, 59. A former competitive time trial cyclist, he suffered an injury during a training session in Spain in 2014. He was diagnosed with congestive heart failure soon after, which has a 50 percent mortality rate within five years. For the lifelong athlete, the diagnosis was a shocker.

“Usually it’s caused by drugs, alcohol, genetics,” he says. “But the idiopathic part was likely caused by a virus I caught in Brazil. I had gotten deathly ill in Brazil a year and a half beforehand, while training five days a week. … Through a series of diet changes, pharmaceuticals and an energy healer, I have returned, much to the surprise of all my cardiology docs, to normal heart function again. I still have a piece of hardware in me, but that’s coming out, hopefully.”

If Mullings’ global profile continues to grow, the athletics is perhaps the one element of his life that has had to take a backseat. “I’m a hyper-competitor,” he says. “I either go 100 miles an hour or nothing. I still exercise six days a week, but sitting at a heart rate of 170 for two and a half hours every day probably is not the best subscription. … I view myself as being in the bonus round, because I really ought to be dead.”

This story is from the May/June 2021 issue of Boca magazine. For more content like this, subscribe to the magazine.