Women in Tech: “Investors Asked if I Was Going to Take Maternity Leave”

In this second post of the Women in Tech Blog Series, we are featuring Dr. Jin lee, CEO and Founder of Qidza (Dr. Jin and her co-founders in the picture above). As we are counting down to our Women in Tech Festival 2017 on March 24th-25th, we invited our female founders that will be pitching at the festival to share their unique stories in building their startups – what inspired them to start their entrepreneurial journey and what stereotypes have they come up against?

What inspired you to start your company?

As the first product of Qidza, BabyNoggin was born out of a personal need. I and my husband were planning to have kids. My husband asked me;

“When will the baby start seeing me?”
“When will it be able to crawl to me?”
“What if our baby doesn’t crawl until much later? How soon should we worry?”

I was amazed that I, who has an Oxford Ph.D. in neuropsychology and supervised Oxford medical students in developmental neuropsychology, could forget answers to these questions. And if I, with all my education, can’t keep track of these milestones, then how do parents do it?

I chatted with friends who have young babies and asked them for tips and tricks on monitoring early baby development. Their answers were consistent that they would only record the bigger events such as crawling or walking on their calendar and if they felt something was wrong or the child was developing slowly they would call their baby’s doctor.

While I fared well under my own parents’ intuition and guidance, there must be a better way to help today’s parents anticipate a baby’s next milestone, check for development, and follow-up with “actionable insights”. Under this vision, we created our first app, BabyNoggin. Our mission is to help every child achieve early screening, early detection, and better health outcomes.

Who has been your mentor or role model in your entrepreneurial journey? 

My husband has been a huge support to me and my company. I’m fortunate to have several mentor and advisors that I can chat with to brainstorm ideas or ask for advice.

I am appreciative to all the founders of today’s late-stage startups such as Omada Health and others who have paved the way for the digital healthcare industry. They have helped grown the market for digital therapeutics, proven with clinical trials and other rigorous scientific methods. With Qidza, I’ve realized that everything in the healthcare industry is much more complex and takes longer than previously anticipated.

Have you come up against a stereotype and how did you handle it?

During my last trimester of pregnancy, I was trying to raise a very small angel round. I initially met with many investors who are older and who either didn’t have kids or had kids that were already teenagers. Many of the investors gave the feedback that parents won’t manually enter the baby’s developmental or feeding behavior into the app, and that it would need to be done through IoT devices who tracks that automatically. However, this is not what we have heard from thousands of moms who track their baby’s development through notepads, Excel spreadsheets, and apps.

Investors also asked me questions like; “Are you going to take maternity leave?”, “Was childbirth ok? Since you have the majority share in the company we want to make sure you are healthy.”.

What has been the most challenging so far in building your startup and how do you keep the motivation up?

Prioritization and focus have been extremely difficult. As a first-time mom running a baby company, I need to in a daily basis pick and choose what I should spend my time on. Running a startup is hard work and for every minute I spend on building my company is time taken away from my baby girl. Right after birth, I had many business calls where my baby is in the other room screaming, and I must to be conscious to either let her cry or ask permission to finish the call later.

As we are a startup with a strong mission, I have been fortunate enough to hire team members that are very passionate about what we do. We discovered that the problem is much bigger than we initially thought, and everyone in the team feels a strong mission to help every child achieve early screening and early intervention. Through our own personal experiences and our dedication to our mission, we keep each other on point and keeps the motivation going.

What is your one top advice to female entrepreneurs out there?

Luck favors those who are prepared. Do your homework and go out with a bang. Research shows that female entrepreneurs often pitch what the data and reality say while male entrepreneurs pitch their vision. You are trying to tell a story about the future that doesn’t exist yet, so be prepared and know the ins and outs of your company and go out with confidence. By having done your homework you will automatically be able to pitch your grand vision to attract investors, talent as well as customers!

It’s only 17 days left to our Women in Tech Festival 2017, March 24th-25th at Microsoft, Mountain View. Join us and hear Dr. Jin lee, CEO and Founder of Qidza pitch on March 24th! #SVFWIT17 #SVFWomenTechFest

Author: Xi-Er Dang
Product Marketing Specialist

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