The genuine desire to revolutionize women's health
How did you come up with the idea for your business?
The idea for our business originated from a genuine desire to revolutionize women's health. Recognizing the limitations and side effects of traditional treatments and procedures and the gaps of unmet needs, we sought to develop innovative non-invasive approaches inspired by women's anatomy –for women by women with our 85% female-led team as we can all identify with these issues. The goal was to provide safe, effective, and targeted solutions for prevalent uterine pathologies directly at the disease source through the uterus.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when starting your business?
Like any startup in the women's health arena, one of the biggest hurdles we encountered was and is securing funding and investment, which is often limited due to the overall spending allocated to women's health and the relatively small check sizes involved.
However, beyond financial obstacles, we also grappled with the pervasive taboos and stigmas surrounding women's health. Breaking through established norms and introducing a paradigm-shifting technology requires not only navigating regulatory processes and building trust among healthcare professionals but also challenging societal perceptions and fostering open conversations about sensitive topics.
How did you overcome those challenges?
Overcoming these multifaceted challenges demands a comprehensive approach that encompassesnot only innovation and regulatory compliance but also advocacy and education to address the deep-rooted taboos and stigmas associated with women's health.
We focused on building a strong network of supporters and investors who share our vision for a better future of women's health. We also work closely with key opinion leaders to ensure compliance while demonstrating the safety and efficacy of our innovative platform. Persistence, resilience, and a passionate team were vital in overcoming these obstacles.
Did you have any surprises along the way? If so, what were they?
One unexpected surprise we encountered was the reluctance of investors to fund contraceptive innovation specifically for the US market. It posed a significant challenge, requiring us to reassess our strategy and pivot our focus towards therapeutics for treating prevalent diseases affecting sick women.
This necessitated quick decision-making, flexibility, and resilience from our team. As part of the strategy change, we underwent a name change from OCON Healthcare to OCON Therapeutics and redirected our efforts towards developing therapeutics for prevalent uterine diseases. This shift proved to be a pivotal moment, leading to better success and traction as we addressed the critical needs of women with various health conditions throughout different life stages.
How did you build your team and what qualities did you look for in your team members?
We have an awesome TEAM (= Together Everyone Achieves More!) of mainly women! We sought individuals who not only possessed exceptional expertise in their specific area but also share our passion for improving women's health. We value qualities such as creativity, adaptability, and an anti-fragile mindset that is desperately needed to thrive in a start-up environment.
A diverse team with different perspectives and skill sets allows us to tackle challenges from various angles and drive innovation. One of the initiatives we are most proud of is a specific college we adopted to give jobs to women who recently escaped the prostitution cycle. This gives these women a safe environment to re-enter the workspace and strengthens us as a team by giving back to the community.
What marketing strategies have worked well for your business?
When it comes to marketing strategies, our approach includes leveraging the power of awards to showcase our achievements. The recognition we received as a World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer is a source of great pride for us, as it not only grants us global brand recognition but also enables us to shape women's health policies on a global scale.
Moreover, our team's active involvement in multiple advisory boards positions us as thought leaders in the field. Collaborating with renowned experts not only helps us raise awareness and establish credibility but also allows us to make a meaningful impact within the medical community. Additionally, we consider it our responsibility to debunk common misconceptions through educational initiatives. Lastly, our strong network and beautifully designed products serve as powerful marketing tools in themselves.
How have you funded your business, and what advice would you give to others seeking funding?
Securing funding for our business involved both angel investors, who shared our vision and believed in our potential, as well as venture capital investments that fueled our growth and expansion. When seeking funding, it is crucial to have a clear and compelling business plan, while also tailoring your pitch to the specific audience. Understanding your investors' focus and check sizes is essential, and customizing your presentation accordingly can greatly enhance your chances of success.
For instance, when pitching to white males, emphasizing financial metrics and figures may resonate more, while presenting to women, who can relate to female-specific technology, can focus on more emotional aspects. Don't hesitate to ask questions at the beginning of meetings to better align your pitch with the investor's preferences, such as their investment focus and preferred round participation. By gathering this information, you can deliver a pitch that hits the mark and maximizes your chances of securing the necessary funding.
What metrics do you use to measure your success, and how do you track them?
To measure our success as an R&D focused company, we track various metrics that are aligned with our pipeline of products. Key indicators include tracking milestones, monitoring clinical studies tightly and gather data on the effectiveness and safety of our solutions and tracking patient satisfaction and quality of life parameters. We align our regulatory strategies early on and prepare for go-2-market and reimbursement. These metrics help us assess our impact and guide our strategic decisions.
How do you stay ahead of your competitors, and what steps do you take to stay innovative?
Staying ahead of competitors and fostering innovation is a continuous effort. We prioritize investing in research and development, constantly exploring new avenues to improve our technology and expand our product portfolio. We actively monitor the market landscape, keeping a close eye on emerging trends and customer needs. Collaboration with key stakeholders, including physicians, industry experts and researchers, helps us stay informed and maintain our position at the forefront of women's health innovation.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting their own business?
My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to be driven by passion and purpose. Starting a business requires dedication, resilience, and the ability to navigate challenges. Surround yourself with a talented team, seek mentorship and guidance from experienced professionals, and be open to learning from both successes and failures. Embrace innovation, adapt to change, and never lose sight of the impact your business can make. Stay focused, stay motivated, and persevere through the journey, always keeping the needs of your customers at the forefront.