If you're reading this blog post, you're likely no stranger to Entrepreneurship. It's hard work. And even harder being a female CEO. Having lead several startups over the years, my newest company, Prima-Temp, has me facing even more hurdles that I've encountered previously - because our first product is a women's health product. Women account for half the population, but some still consider women's health products too "niche" - from investors to potential partners to the press.
Here are 3 tips that have helped me disrupt the Women's health industry:
1. Find investors who 'get it'...and take their money.
Smart money is great to have when you're a fledgling startup looking for contacts, but any money is better than no money. Angel investors have replaced early-stage venture capital in startups, but the method of raising money from them is very different. It is about the personal relationship between you and the angel investor, and it's about trust. Tell your story in a personal way, describe the problem and your solution in words they can easily understand, and answer all of their questions succinctly. Showing them that you are passionate about your business and willing do everything you can to make it a success is the most important. The revenue numbers and exit strategy are often secondary for angel investors (though still important). If this trust can be established, you're in. Although they may not have the obvious contacts and networks that a VC may have, they may surprise you and bring in a few of their friends to invest as well!
2. It's not always a good idea to tell your personal story.
Although a personal story is nice to have, it can become uncomfortable when talking about a women's health product. Most of my investor meetings are predominantly men, above the age of 45, who turn red and squirm at my first mention of 'intravaginal ring'. The story I tell loops back to their wives/significant others/sisters/mothers. This allows them to personalize the product in a way that is not possible if I were to tell them my own story.
3. Become a visionary...even if you aren't.
I'm a scientist, through and through. I have a vision for my company, but having a bigger vision of where women's health is going in the future was not a priority for me when I first embarked on this journey with Prima-Temp. Then, I had the opportunity to do a TEDx Talk. This forced me to sit down and think about my vision of how wearables are changing women's health, healthcare in general, and humanity. It was a long and arduous process for a left-brain, non-creative type like me, but it turned me into the 'go-to' person for wearables in healthcare, which brought more attention to the company. This had a trickle-down effect of increased press for the company, quicker interest by investors, stronger connection with consumers and doctors, and more.
Do not be afraid to buck the system! Gaining traction - whether it's your customers, the press, investors, or others - is all about being unique, disruptive, and exciting! Prima-Temp has made huge strides with our effortless, precise, empowering fertility sensor simply by NOT following the typical path. You can too!
Prima-Temp, Inc. is a digital health company revolutionizing the field of continuous temperature sensing to address early recognition of ovulation and acute illness.
Dr. Costantini is CEO of Prima-Temp and has held executive positions in life science companies for over twenty years, focusing on directing products from discovery through launch. She has led products at each stage from research through clinical testing, regulation, commercialization to marketing. She connects early-stage companies with potential partners, venture capital and investors, as well as guides due diligence for licensing activities. Her positions have included Vice President at the Colorado Institute for Drug, Device and Diagnostic Development (CID4), which provides funding and management expertise to bring emerging life science technologies into commercial success. Additionally, she has been Vice President at Accera, where her team developed and launched an Alzheimer's therapeutic, and was on faculty at Harvard Medical School.