How did you come up with your business idea?
We derived our business idea from our everyday life: doctors' visits seem to last hours, but the time which is actually spent on talking with the physician is limited to a couple of minutes. In such a short time, it is impossible to examine, diagnose, educate, and prescribe therapy properly. Thanks to today’s technology some parts of patient education, reminder, motivation and enlightenment can also be covered outside of doctors’ or therapists’ offices.
However, when we first approached the market, we quickly realized the particularities and the limits of the healthcare market. On the one hand, there are patients who are grateful for digital support, on the other hand, there is a high level of complexity and regulation in the market. Thus, it takes longer than in other industries to develop products and find a sustainable and profitable market positions. Topics we face range from reimbursement and the willingness to pay, up to data security and medical regulations.
Why did you become an entrepreneur in healthcare?
I have a background in general management and business law and worked several years as a consultant for McKinsey before I co-founded Temedica. I was eager to put my ideas into practice and build something that actually helps people in their everyday lives. This is what drives most people in our team. But why doing business in healthcare? The healthcare market in particular is highly regulated and not digitized at all and thus still allows to get things moving. This is a challenge that motivates me every day.
How was the process of deciding that you really wanted to found your startup?
As a consultant, I had exposure to a wide variety of industries and people guaranteed a steep learning curve. Nevertheless, consulting projects are generally limited in time and scope. After several years in consulting I really wanted to start something from scratch and see it grow. That was the main reason why I decided to start a new chapter.
What are the main challenges you encountered?
Life as an entrepreneur is a challenge. In the healthcare market specifically, you need to be aware that you are dealing with a massive but highly specific and regulated market. Everything takes longer than expected. This is even more complex when you are a first time founder in an industry that is new to you. You will need to take decisions where you have no experiences to relate to and you need to take a road nobody took so far. It offers you the possibility to be creative and come up with innovative solutions, but there will be no orientation to guide you. You need to carve your own way in this market. Especially in the beginning, not many are interested in what you do, until you have your first customers and investors. This requires a lot of perseverance.
There is quite a high proportion of women working in the healthcare industry. Why do you think we have so few female founders?
In my judgement, the healthcare market indeed attracts many women – I guess because it provides social purpose to those working in the field and there are numerous jobs which are comparably “family-friendly”.
On the contrary, founding a startup is still seen as a “men’s thing”. It comes along with a lot of risks and uncertainties. Moreover, the compatibility of having a family and founding a startup is very low and deters women. When you combine the two by starting a venture in the healthcare field, you encounter both sides, the positive ones and the negative ones. Judging from my daily doing, I’d say it is 85% about founding a startup and 15% about the (healthcare) industry.
What traits do you think you have, that made you became a successful entrepreneur?
Definitely, persistence. I like the term because it combines the endurance and the drive which is definitely needed. As a founder, it is essential to keep up a long and strong vision for the future. On the other side, there are thousands of things that have to be done every single day. It is impossible to do them all, and yet they all must be done. In my opinion, the key to success in the early stages of any startup is to focus on the things that really matter.
Do you or did you have a mentor or supporter that helped you pursue your idea?
I have many mentors and can only recommend that to everyone. I started quite early, even before founding Temedica, to connect with mentors that might help me with specific topics. For example, I have one senior mentor who is a successful serial entrepreneur. He shares his personal experiences with me. At Temedica, we have established an expert advisory board to integrate additional and more senior healthcare market expertise. From every talk with a mentor you can draw your own lessons. As there will never be one person that can provide you with support on all topics, you should diversify and get several mentors for specific topics you need advice on.
If you were about to pursue a new idea or venture right now - which field/trend/technology would you look into?
Although it is a tough market, I would found again a startup in the healthcare market drawing on all the expertise I gained in the last years. Combining insurances, doctors, patients and digital technology is what I would do again. When it comes to new technologies overall, I see a lot of potential in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and blockchain technology.
What do you think is needed to support women entrepreneurship in healthcare?
Unfortunately, Europe still lacks behind the USA when it comes to entrepreneurship and digital innovation. In our European society, we need a general mindset change, so that risk and failure is no longer deemed negatively. Even if you fail as an entrepreneur, you should receive appreciation for taking this risk.
For women, it is especially the family planning that needs attention from politics. It is difficult to combine family and entrepreneurship. One could consider to make the childcare system more founder-friendly by providing financial or personal resources. But even with the most supportive environment being an entrepreneur is mostly tough and sometimes very frustrating. But it also brings incredible highs and a deep sense of mission. It’s this wonderful feeling of working with amazing people, overcoming barriers and problems with solutions no one has ever thought of. Entrepreneurship is this magical mix of teamwork, problem solving collaboration and excitement.
Do you have any message you want to share with other women that think about pursuing an innovative idea in the field of healthcare?
My advice is, stop thinking, start doing! Especially with an academic background we often tend to overthink things. In reality, you can never know what works, just test it!
If you want to know more about Gloria, visit her linkedIn profile.