Four Female Founders Share Candid Insights on Building a Successful Business in Health Technology
Supportive networks, impassioned persistence and the ability to stand out as women seen as critical to success.
NEW YORK (December 9, 2016) – In a no-holds-barred conversation, four female founders of leading digital health startups encouraged female physicians to be tenacious about their purpose and own their difference as women when launching businesses in this traditionally male-dominated space.
The panel discussion was hosted by Nestlé Skin Health SHIELD (Skin Health Investigation, Education, Longevity Development) and the New York chapter of the Women’s Dermatologic Society (WDS) at the SHIELD Center in New York. In a session moderated by Jessica Mikus, patent attorney at Nestlé Skin Health, the panelists spoke candidly about the many hurdles they faced as founders, and as women.
“Male-founded companies received 90% of venture funding between 2010 and 2015, and women account for fewer than 3% of startup CEOs,” explained Mikus. “These stats highlight just how special these women are.”
“These numbers offer both a challenge and an explanation for why these kinds of events - creating opportunities for women to connect with and mentor other women - are so important,“ said Hanh Pham, Senior Manager of Medical Innovation at SHIELD.
Kicking off the conversation, panelist Bea Arthur, Founder and CEO of In Your Corner, offered her own sobering look at the numbers, and shared words of encouragement. “About 98% of all startups fail,” she said. “But if you don’t focus on these numbers, you will be the one to succeed. Stay humble and hungry and you can overcome anything.”
Although the panelists spoke of the challenges and isolation of starting their businesses, of not being taken seriously and encountering low expectations in their pursuit of funding, they also highlighted ways that they had been advantaged as female founders.
“Building a brand for yourself is easier,” said Fon Powell, Founder and CEO of S.A.L.T. “Every guy looks like the typical Silicon Valley guy. People remember me. As a woman in a wrap dress. As an African American. I don’t look like anyone else. Women as minorities in this field should use that to our advantage.”
Ms. Arthur echoed that sentiment, urging the women in the audience not to be afraid of being different. “We can be very convincing when we care,” she said. “Be how you are.”
The panelists also spoke of the wealth of support that they had received from their networks and mentors, particularly among other women founders and venture capitalists, and the critical role that support had played in the success of their businesses.
“I’m a solo founder, but I’ve never been alone,” said Dr. An Nguyen, of Innovatively.
“Everyone is supportive and wants you to succeed,” said Dr. Kristine Miranda, Co-Founder of Psocratic. “Knowing there are others who see your vision and support you makes all the difference to keep you pushing forward.”
“WDS is grateful to the panelists for sharing their own experiences and being so generous with their insights. I know that our members were deeply inspired and hope that this conversation has encouraged some of them to take the next step with ideas they may already have,” said Dr. Jeannette Jakus of the Women’s Dermatologic Society.
"SHIELD's mission is to change how the world thinks about and acts on skin health,” said Dr. Warren Winkelman, Senior Medical Director at SHIELD. “To realize our mission, SHIELD has created a safe, welcoming space for all ideators in digital heath to innovate. SHIELD's partnership with WDS will help foster more opportunities for everyone to contribute to the development of future technologies to improve people's skin health, quality of life and longevity."
About Nestlé Skin Health SHIELD
Nestlé Skin Health SHIELD is a global network of innovation and education hubs gathering today’s most creative and visionary thinkers from diverse disciplines to generate, develop and incubate ideas to advance skin health for tomorrow. SHIELD explores creative partnerships, new concepts and technologies to help preserve lifelong skin health, mitigate the emergence of skin conditions and integrate the skin dimension into the organization of age-friendly cities.
About the WDS
The Women's Dermatologic Society, founded in 1973, is dedicated to helping dermatologists fulfill their greatest potential and assisting them in making a contribution to our specialty and society. The mission of the WDS is to be the premier organization cultivating personal and professional development of dermatologists dedicated to excellence in patient care, mentorship, volunteerism, and leadership.
Nestlé Skin Health SHIELD
+1 (646) 495-3051
Women’s Dermatologic Society
+1 (877) 937-7673