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Insider Insight: Christy Prada, CEO of Future Fertility

This week we meet Christy Prada, CEO of the Canadian medtech start-up Future Fertility

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Christy Prada

Christy Prada is the CEO of Future Fertility, a Toronto-based artificial intelligence medtech start-up focusing on non-invasive reproductive innovations. 

What is your morning routine?

I generally wake up whenever my alarm (i.e. my 15 month old daughter) goes off which these days is between 6-6:30am.

Every morning we do a short walk together, my husband, our daughter and our dog, Callie, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. I really enjoy the opportunity to have some down time together before a busy day of meetings and work.  Then I frantically get dressed while downing a coffee and head out the door for the office.

I wish I could say I got up, had a healthy breakfast, did a workout and got organised for the day, but this is simply unrealistic for me these days.

My life has become a bit more chaotic with return to the office, and a new baby, but I am really enjoying the new pace of life!

Which technology could you not live without?

Cell phone. The boring and predictable answer, but it is the truth. I rely a lot on my phone to stay connected to urgent requests from the office, which enables me to get in more family time on a daily basis versus being at my desk.

I try to get home to spend evenings/bedtime with my daughter before logging back onto my computer, and a cell phone makes this feasible.

How do you relax?

Outside of family time, I also enjoy a glass of wine after a busy day, taking a dance class, or (if I am really lucky) hitting the spa with my girlfriends. Friday night is pizza night at our house, which I also truly look forward to – the little things!

Which quote resonates with you?

“If it were easy, everyone would do it.” I’m not sure where it originated, but my team hears me say this all the time.

I think it nicely reflects the unique challenges of working in a technology start-up. Not everyone can embrace the agility, execution and stretch tasks that are required when you are forging a new path or creating a new industry.

What is the best thing about your job?

Getting to work with so many talented, passionate people, both at my company and in the industry. I’ve been blown away by the enthusiasm, dedication and deep scientific, technical and academic talent in the fertility industry.

My team! I am so inspired by the team I work with every single day. I am fortunate enough to have a team of deep technical, clinical, academic and operational experts that know their practice and functional area inside and out.

They are ambitious, fearless and committed individuals and I feel lucky to have a team like this by my side.

I really see my role as working to empower and enable them to do what they do best, as much as possible.

What keeps you motivated?

I find the problem we are working to solve for to be hugely tangible and inspiring. In my previous role, we were helping to improve access to healthcare, so I knew that any other roles I took on would have to have a similar level of altruism.

I love that I am contributing to an industry that will help to empower more people through their own fertility journeys, whatever they may look like.

Whether someone wants to have a baby now, help someone else have a baby, or aren’t sure yet, empowering patients with access to information to help them better plan for their lives and be more engaged in the decision-making process through the journey is extremely compelling to me.

It’s a win that we are also making labs and clinics more efficient, effective and data driven, and generally advancing the industry as a whole, which is further motivating.

Aside from this, at a more micro day-to-day level, I am a business developer/builder at heart, so I always love the rush of signing a new commercial deal/partnership or bringing on a new employee that is a perfect fit for a key role.

What is the most important lesson you have learned working in the fertility space?

Being new to the fertility space, (I joined Future Fertility as CEO seven months ago and am new to the industry!) I feel I still have lots to learn. However, a few key things stick out to me.

There is tremendous appetite for innovation and new technology – this just needs to be balanced with usability and clinical applicability. If you can help solve a real problem for clinicians, embryologists or other providers, there will be good support from early adopters to collaborate and enhance the use case of the solution.

There is no “one” right answer! While this is true for the clinical side of things (in speaking with physicians, embryologists, and other care providers, who each have their own approaches to their practice) it is also an important lesson for companies like ours to embrace while growing.

We may have to try something a few times to get it right, and keeping an open mind is critical when building products for this industry. The best lesson I’ve gained from working in a health technology start-up in general is to be relentlessly focused on execution in an agile way, which is well aligned to this lesson.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Relax and enjoy the process. This is when the best learning comes, and you can’t go back and re-experience it again! Embrace the present.

What is something you wish you could experience again for the first time? 

Becoming a mother. This has been the most fundamentally impactful experience of my life. It has changed who I am, how I engage with people and how I view myself. This is why I am in this industry – to help others fulfil this dream and experience this, and to help empower people to have informed choice over the matter.

What are your long-term goals for the company?

I’d love for our products to play a role in every clinic / fertility cycle globally. There is no reason why every single patient going through the process shouldn’t have personalised access to insights about their fertility, starting with the egg and beyond.

For more info, visit futurefertility.com.

Insider Insight

Insider Insight: Margaret Zablocka, founder and CEO of Onoco

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Margaret Zablocka, founder and CEO of Onoco
We meet Margaret Zablocka, founder and CEO of Onoco – a parenting app inspired by Margaret’s own motherhood journey that combines baby trackers, routine planners and developmental milestones and empowers parents through science-based education.
What is your morning routine?

My mornings are pretty grounded in reality; they don’t start with sunrise workouts or meditation. The first thing I do, despite not being a morning person, is wake up my children. Without that, we’d all risk oversleeping.

I take my time getting them ready for school, ensuring they start their day with a nutritious breakfast. Once they’re off to school with my husband, I cherish a moment of solitude with my morning coffee and catch up on emails. This simple routine keeps me grounded and ready to tackle the day.

Which technology could you not live without?

Fast internet. It’s not about it being essential for survival, but our lives are so intertwined with being online that when I’m without it, the difference is palpable. It keeps me connected, informed and efficient.

How do you relax?

Relaxation for me is about the small moments: watering my houseplants with music in the background, snuggling with my family on the sofa, or escaping on a weekend trip with a friend. There’s a variety of ways, but they all bring me back to centre.

Which quote resonates with you?

George S. Patton’s quote, “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week,” really speaks to me. It’s a reminder not to get caught in endless planning. Action is often more valuable than waiting for perfection. Some of the best outcomes have come from decisions made swiftly and boldly.

What is the best thing about your job?

The magic of my job lies in its impact. Crafting a product that not only looks great but genuinely enriches lives is profoundly satisfying.

It’s when I receive feedback, not just praises, but stories of how our app has revolutionised parenting or caregiving for someone that I truly feel the weight of our work. It’s these moments of connection and transformation that stand out as the best parts of my job.

What keeps you motivated?

The user feedback is incredibly uplifting; knowing our app makes a real difference keeps me going. There is also the ever-evolving nature of the tech industry, with its relentless pace and constant innovation, drives me to not just keep up but to lead and innovate.

What is the most important lesson you have learned on your start-up journey?

Start building your network from day one. It might seem like just another task, but the power of networking is immense. It’s helped secure funding, increase product visibility and achieve things no marketing campaign could.

Even though, sometime it might feel like an additional job  – writing posts on LinkedIn and showing up to networking events etc. Never underestimate the value of strong professional relationships.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

It’s a difficult question because that could change how my life turned out. I would probably try to reassure myself that doing many things at once can be a good thing.

Early on, I was always busy, joining organisations and working on various projects. And, although it might seem minor, I’d stress the importance of sticking with German lessons. My skills are embarrassingly basic despite years of classes.

What is something you wish you could experience again for the first time?

Witnessing the “firsts” of my children—those unparalleled moments of their first smile, step, or word—brought a joy that’s hard to describe. If I could, I’d relive those moments in a heartbeat. There’s a unique wonder and happiness in those first-time experiences that’s just pure magic, a reminder of the beauty and simplicity of life’s milestones.

What is your greatest achievement since establishing Onoco?

Onoco being named App of the Day is a highlight of my professional journey. Considering the Apple App Store sees nearly 1,000 new app submissions daily and boasts close to two million apps in total, being recognised by Apple’s editors is no small feat.

Their endorsement, stating “Babies don’t come with a manual, but Onoco is the next best thing,” is not just an honour but a testament to our team’s hard work and dedication. It’s one of the most validating moments in my career.

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Insider Insight: Somer Baburek, co-founder and CEO of Hera Biotech

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Somer Baburek, co-founder and CEO of Hera Biotech
This week we meet Somer Baburek, co-founder and CEO of the women’s health start-up Hera Biotech. Based in San Antonio, Texas, Somer is on a mission to develop and commercialise the world’s first non-surgical test for definitive diagnosis and staging of endometriosis.

 

What is your morning routine? 

My current morning routine is not what I would consider my “normal” routine as I have an infant who now somewhat dictates when my morning begins. That said, I am usually up between 4-5am and a cup of coffee is my first priority (after feeding the baby, of course).

If the little one sleeps later, I usually try to catch a little bit of national news and respond to emails that came in overnight while I sip coffee. If she’s up, I have the news on in the background while I play with her.

At 6am, I wake up my other two daughters and get them ready for school. We try to always do morning drop off as a family and then we’re back home to start the day. Childcare arrives at 8:30am and then I begin my “official” workday.

Which technology could you not live without? 

Unfortunately, I must say my cell phone. It allows me to work from anywhere, which affords me the luxury of attending school events, having lunch with my kiddos, or answering emails/taking calls in the pickup line or at one of the many sports practices. I feel very fortunate to be able to be involved with my children and not bound to an office or computer for work.

How do you relax?

Admittedly, I am not great about this. I am notorious for sitting down only to immediately think of something I “need” to do before I relax. I try to find little moments for mental calm. Often this is when I’m putting the baby down to sleep or going for a run, these quiet little moments allow me to intentionally clear my mind, be present and let my mind relax.

To be fair, I also relish a glass of wine on the couch with my husband when all the littles are asleep, those conversations are some of my favourite and work wonders for decompressing.

Which quote resonates with you? 

My favourite quote is by the French poet, Ovid. The quote is, “Fortune and love, favour the brave.” Sometimes I have insecurities about my role as a CEO, wife, or mother, when I do, this quote seems to bring me comfort.

I feel like each of these roles requires me to be brave in different ways, this quote makes me realise that being brave enough to expand past my comfort zone in each of these roles is what will allow me to be, what I define, as successful in each of them.

What is the best thing about your job? 

The people! Endometriosis patients, my sister and niece included, are some of the strongest, fiercest, and intentionally vulnerable people I have ever had the pleasure of working for, I love them!

My colleagues at Hera are also some of my favourite people. I love how dedicated everyone is to improving the diagnostic process for the patients and being thoughtful about each and every stakeholder in the process.

I also routinely marvel and the diversity on our team; everything from education to professional, to cultural. It would be an understatement to say that we all come from VERY different backgrounds but somehow it blends beautifully.

What keeps you motivated?

There are two things that keep me extremely motivated. The first is patients; hearing the stories of what they’ve gone through to get a diagnosis never cease to motivate me. I love hearing from them and knowing that the work we are doing has the potential to completely shift the paradigm of care and the process of diagnosis is what pushes me through some of the tough spots.

The other thing that motivates me is my children. I have three daughters, who will all be subjected to the standards of care in women’s health at some point in the relatively near future. I do not want them to experience the same standards, societal/medical gaslighting, and/or societal/cultural reluctance to openly talk about women’s health that I experienced.

The idea that I may be able to improve their experience, or at least equip them with knowledge of the gaps and enable them to advocate for themselves is highly motivating.

What is the most important lesson you have learned on your start-up journey?

People are full of advice and opinions about every aspect of your business. There is something to be learned from everyone, but without data, advice and opinions should be taken at face value.

Additionally, there are people in the investor world who just feel the need to treat founders terribly. In my experience, the people who try the hardest to make you feel like you don’t know what you’re talking about, are often the ones with the least relevant knowledge in your field!

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Lighten up! You don’t have to have all the answers.

What is something you wish you could experience again for the first time?

Getting my first check from an investor that I hadn’t known for years. It was such a euphoric feeling of accomplishment. I felt like I had done a good job at explaining not only our business model and strategy, which is my background, but also the science behind the test. I felt so proud that I was able to represent the work of my co-founders well enough to garner investment, it was really lovely.

What is your greatest achievement since establishing Hera Biotech?

In my mind there are two highlights here, one personal and one professional. Professionally, I think our biggest accomplishment has been taking the test into the clinic. This is a real turning point, seeing your product being used by real people on real people; truly moving.

Personally, I think the highlight has been bringing conversations about women’s health, female founders and investing into the forefront of our family conversations.

As an example, my oldest daughter recently had a very serious conversation with me and my husband about wanting to use the money she had saved up to invest in a business. We talked about due diligence, equity, and the difference between investing and giving.

Those were not conversations that I heard or had at 11 and I love that these concepts are things she is already comfortable talking and asking questions about. 

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Insider Insight: Theresa Neil, founder and CEO of Guidea

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Theresa Neil, founder and CEO of Guidea
This week we meet digital health innovator Theresa Neil, founder of the women-owned product design company Guidea. Her recent programme, Femovate, is supporting 50 early stage femtech start-ups to accelerate product validation and commercialisation.

 

What is your morning routine?

I start each day at 5:30am with a cup of coffee and play word puzzles for a few minutes instead of scrolling the news and social media. This new habit has really improved my outlook on the day.

At 6 am, I typically meet with one of our European or Middle Eastern femtech start-ups. I take a break from work at 7am to get the kids ready for school, then back to the desk at 8am for our clients in the US.  I have to admit I am not a morning person, but I’ve gotten into the routine so it isn’t as bad now.

Which technology could you not live without?

Fathom, the AI notetaker that joins me for every meeting. The recordings and summaries are invaluable! Outside of work I am very low tech and frequently forget to even take my phone with me.

How do you relax?

By forgetting to take my phone with me. No, really, I live in a wonderful area, Santa Cruz, California, close to the beach and the redwood forests.

I like to hike or kayak when I have some free time. And I have a 10 month old corgi mix puppy who is great to take walks with.

Which quote resonates with you?

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”by Mary Oliver.

What is the best thing about your job?

I never planned to have my own company, it just organically grew up around me. 18 years later, Guidea has partnered with hundreds of companies to launch products now used by one billion people!

I find a deep source of pride being involved in so many interesting and innovative companies, especially now that we’re focused on health and wellbeing.

What keeps you motivated?

The start-up founders we work with and their wins. I just heard that our very first Femovate sponsored founder, Tina John of Veera, won two pitch competitions and was voted most investable company by both investors and the general audience!

Every time one of the companies we sponsor receives a grant, investment ,award, FDA clearance, or launches in the market, it shows me we’re making a difference in women’s health.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Wear more sunscreen.

What is something you wish you could experience again for the first time?

I grew up on a small farm and I was five years old the first year our sheep had lambs. I was absolutely amazed when the lambs were born; one of them imprinted on me and followed me everywhere. I would do that again in a heartbeat.

What is your greatest achievement since establishing Guidea?

We’ve won a lot of awards, as a company and as an individual designer, but I think launching and running Femovate with my team is my greatest and most meaningful achievement so far.

To find out more about Guidea, visit guidea.com. To learn more about Femovate, visit femovate.com.

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