This is a guest blog – DrDoctor is a great supporter of HTWUK and the network’s vision, which is to promote and support women in medical innovation. Our Product Expert, Anaïs, has been involved with HTWUK since it started in London just over a year ago so we invited her to cover the event from a ‘HealthTech Woman’ point of view.
Sitting in the audience watching 32 startups deliver their pitches one by one, I couldn’t help but feel confused as to why so many men in suits and only 3 women were taking the stage. Having attended the afternoon workshop leading to the launch, I had witnessed a larger female presence in the room than I was seeing on stage. I went on a mission after the event and asked these 3 fabulous female pitchers a quickfire of questions to understand their journey, followed by an obligatory selfie with Maxine (Chairman of HTWUK). Laura Willoughby Co-founder, Club Soda Status Movement Builder Best brew 0.0% Stowford Press Laura was the first woman pitcher of the evening and absolutely nailed it – even holding back from her witty jokes during the 60 seconds! How are you combining health and tech? “We are not really a healthtech startup, rather a movement that is based on founding a community that support each other based on people’s relationship with alcohol. This relationship is a non-linear journey that cannot be successfully supported with a one size fits all approach. Up until now, alcohol dependency or abuse has been addressed by disease-dependent models like Alcohol Anonymous, which our community would never set foot in. We are using our digital presence to create a safe place based on mutual support and to direct people to trusted services if we can’t help directly.” How have you found your journey as an entrepreneur? “It’s been like throwing pasta at walls and seeing what stick.” – enough said, really. Nickie Hursthouse Head of Operations, Live Smart Status – Conservative Innovator Best book – Daring & Disruptive by Lisa Messenger Nickie delivered a flawless pitch with a calm and composed confidence that grabbed the attention of everyone in the room. Dietician by training with a healthcare career in Australia, she has recently made the move to Britain and joined this exciting healthtech startup. How did you get into HealthTech? “I kind of just fell into it – I previously worked in the Australian healthcare system which is mostly female-dominated, especially in Dietetics. This created a balanced work environment out on the wards and in the hospital. When I moved to the UK, I was surprised at the tiny proportion of dieticians in my speciality compared to Australia, suggesting it is an underdeveloped field. I was equally surprised to find myself in a startup where I’m the only woman when I moved to London, it has shown me two extremes of the spectrum.” What was it like to transition into a more tech role? “I'm really enjoying working on another side of healthcare, where at Live Smart, we are taking advantage of how ubiquitous the internet has become. It has so much power on what people eat and what they do so it has been very interesting to apply health coaching, behaviour monitoring and nutritional assessments on a digital platform. However, the digital spectrum is very broad and we are trying to find best fit on how to exchange this information with our users." Dr Ivana Schnur Co-founder and CMO, Sense.ly Status: Crazy-yet-composed Disruptor Ivana was the last woman to take the stage to pitch the launch of Sense.ly’s awesome product in the UK – Meet Olivia, your virtual nurse. She has a very impressive background of working in the Silicon Valley amongst other entrepreneurial legends. What are the challenges that drew you to health innovation? “Healthcare has always been behind and is so slow to change because it is so risk averse. As Doctors, we don’t like machines to be smarter than us and that has created a kind of paradigm that is slowly being shifted. We introduced our first virtual nurse in the Bay Area three years ago and she is now programmable into different accents, languages and names – she’s called ‘Molly’ in the US. We are using early stages of AI but we require access to more data to develop the technology further pushing the frontiers of healthtech.” Hardest thing about being an entrepreneur breaking into a new field? “It’s not difficult to excite people or to get them to believe in your technology. It’s getting people to commit and carry the project through that is the most challenging. From our experience here in the UK and overseas, there are too many hoops to jump through to help maintain this initial level of enthusiasm.”