During her twenty plus years leading research teams at biotech companies, Dr. Jeanette Hill saw too many destructive mergers (and their aftermath) and decided to launch her own venture. Dr. Hill’s unique combination of experience led her to launch Spot On Sciences, Inc. in 2010 which manufactures and markets a patented medical device offering groundbreaking improvements in the way bio-specimens are collected for medical diagnostics. Here is her story:
There was a “perfect storm” of events happening in my life. I was frustrated with the slow and bureaucratic pace of innovation at the large biotech company where I was employed and so left to start a flexible and quickly moving company.
Right about the same time my mother, who lived out in the country, was dealing with chronic disease and having trouble traveling to a lab for her blood tests. We thought that there had to be an easier way to get access to blood tests, and so developed our products so that blood could be collected at home and sent in the mail to a lab.
The last piece to fall into place was finding a women-centric entrepreneur accelerator right in my city. The accelerator gave me the skill set and confidence to start my own company. My patented technology came next and now we’re helping to bring life-saving tests to everyone.
Most valuable mentor
Texas State University had a program that trained experienced businesswomen to become entrepreneurs and create startup companies. The instructors, aka Entrepreneurs-In-Residence (EIRs), devoted their time and resources to helping us learn, grow and network. I’m still in contact with those EIRs today and especially value their perspective as I grow my business.
I know that my technology can have a huge impact in healthcare so my goal is to bring access to life-saving tests to everyone. Diagnostic testing through blood sampling is responsible for 80% of healthcare decisions, but we’re limited by the way we get these samples. We still have to get ourselves to a lab and have a phlebotomist draw our blood. My device allows anyone to take a blood sample anytime, anywhere.
When you grow up on a farm, as I did, your work life starts early. I learned how to drive a truck and tractor at age 8 which made me very popular with my school friends when they came over to play. My first paying job was de-tasseling corn which is where you pull the tops (tassels) off the corn to help pollinate certain rows of corn. In high school, my friend and I were the first females to be inducted into our FFA chapter. We were also the first two females allowed to take shop class.
My day starts at 6:00 am so that I can walk the dog first thing. The walk clears my head and I can think about how to get the day off to good start.
30th birthday celebration
I was in graduate school at Washington University working on a PhD program in bio-organic chemistry. I was tackling protein folding. For my 30th birthday I went on my very first cruise to the Caribbean.
I don’t do this very well but basically, I unplug by reading. I especially enjoy history and science fiction books. I even enjoy reading about my industry…scientific journals, trade journals, etc.
Best networking contact
I met Dr. Mike Smolensky, a biomechanical engineering (BME) professor at the University of Texas, while working with BME students on the first prototype of my device. The students’ work caught the attention of this world expert in health science prompting him to tell me that my device was just what he was looking for in his upcoming research study. He has since become a valuable collaborator, mentor and friend.
I’m most proud that I was able to build a company from idea stage to actual products and have assembled a great team. I’ve received a patent on my device so that’s another thing I’m really proud of. My mom, while she was still living, loved what I was doing and knew that she was the inspiration for my business.
Current business reading
The Lean Startup by Eric Ries.
I support all the initiatives to boost women in STEM and have joined various organizations that are making that their mission. I’m also dedicated to re-shaping healthcare so that it works for all of us.
Song can’t stop singing
Peace Frog by The Doors
Best piece of advice
I’m from the “Show Me” state (MO) so I trust advice that comes from people who have actually walked in your shoes. My advice is to be wary of people who seem to know all the answers but have never been an entrepreneur.
We often use the phrase “make it happen.” We start with a defined goal and then focus on the shortest path to get there.
The old fashioned candy hearts made by Necco. I still haven’t gotten over the fact that they’ve changed all the flavors to fruity ones.
Wish list: prior 40 over 40 honorees to meet
Linda Avey, 23 and Me co-founder, because she’s disrupting healthcare just like I am.
This post originally published at Forbes