WoVen celebrates remarkable women working in science, technology and business. Each episode explores a specific inflection points in a guests professional lives -- those make or break moments that shaped who they are and where they are today -- and their sources of drive and inspiration.
Gail Maderis is president and CEO of Antiva, a biotech company that's developing novel, topical therapeutics for the treatment of diseases caused by human papillomavirus, or HPV. HPV is a major cause of certain cancers.
In the U.S. alone, more than 500,000 women and 300,000 men are diagnosed with HPV-lesions each year. Most patients with HPV cancers will eventually need surgery to remove or ablate their lesions. But, while these surgeries can be quite effective, the procedures can also cause significant discomfort, as well as infrequent but very serious issues. Antiva’s solution is a much-needed, topical treatment that could make these riskier procedures a thing of the past. Gail and her team have made major progress since founding the company, and their drug is now in early human clinical trials.
From her earliest days growing up in San Francisco to her time at university -- from a bachelor's at Berkeley and an MBA from Harvard -- Gail has had a fierce determination to excel and achieve, even after her own diagnosis of multiple sclerosis 13 years ago. Her steadfastness has served her well in twenty-plus years in the biopharma industry. In 2015, just when Gail thought she’d retire and enjoy some traveling, Cannan’s partner, Wende Hutton, had a better idea: recruit Gail to build and run Antiva and to champion not just the company but a cause.
Karla Gallardo is the co-founder and CEO of Cuyana, a San Francisco-based women's clothing and lifestyle brand. She and her co-founder Shilpa Shah founded the company in 2011 with the concept of fewer, better things. Born and raised in Ecuador, her story is one of immigration, determination, careful planning, and family. With an immigrant mentality, Karla put her all into achievement and traditional definitions of success: an ivy league education, a STEM degree, a coveted career in investment banking.
But, she always had an urge to build something bigger, a company that would impact the bottom of the pyramid. Now, since starting Cuyana with a $20,000 loan, and a hat, of all things, as their first product, the company's attracted tens of millions of dollars in investments.
Ginger More was a true pioneer in the male-dominated venture capital world of the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, and she is who the next gen want to grow up to be. Born the second of three children to a schoolteacher and a fireman, Ginger attended the University of Bridgeport as a math major, and she married while she was still in school. She began a family as a military wife and also while working full-time at Wright Investors’ Service. She even completed the totally grinding three-year charter financial analyst certificate program on her own time with young kids.
In 1978, she joined Oak Investment Partners and became a partner there just two years later. At Oak, Ginger invested in a number of IT and healthcare companies, and she was responsible for Oak’s investment and board positions in market making companies like Genzyme, Stratus, and Compaq.
Genzyme went on to set new standards for the industry. At a time when rare diseases were completely neglected by the pharmaceutical industry, the company built their business to serve exactly that unmet need.
Julia Collins has dedicated her career to tackling some of the most difficult problems that our world faces: food insecurity, agricultural damage, ecological dead zones. Our food system is critical to everyone on this planet and Julia is the woman audacious enough to tackle it, head on. Julia has also dedicated her career to food. She started as a restaurateur working alongside Danny Meyer among others to open some of New York City's hottest restaurants.
Then came tech inspiration, leading Julia to co-found Zume Pizza, recently shortened to Zume, a robotic food delivery company based in the bay area. Started in 2015, Zume aims to make healthy food fast and accessible. The company shortens and automates the entire supply chain of food delivery, preparing the food while it's being delivered to the customer and it all started with a crowd favorite pizza.
Zume is one of those rare companies that has reached unicorn status. The company is valued at $2.25 billion and Julia is the first black woman to reach unicorn status with her company. Just to put it in perspective, a 2015 study showed that only 12 black women founders had raised at least $1 million in venture capital funding. By 2017 that number had nearly tripled to 34, but there is still a long way to go and Julia is working hard to make sure her story is no longer in outlier.
Wende Hutton has been a venture capitalist for more than 25 years. A remarkable feat because, even today, the stats show venture is still very much a boys club. In 2018, only 9.7 percent of U.S. venture decision makers were women. Twenty five years ago, gender metrics weren't even tracked, as there were so few women even operating in the field. Except for Wende.
Wende is a true industry pioneer. She took a college love of physiology to venture capital, where she's built a career on identifying, building and investing in companies that can change the practice of medicine by bringing new drugs, apps and devices to market.
She’s a source of motivation and inspiration to women across venture and the entire healthcare space. She has achieved a tremendous amount without having to compromise also being a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, and a person; making very deliberate choices her entire career to be able to have a balanced complete life.
Our guest for this episode is Candace Nelson, who skyrocketed to culinary fame after she and her husband Charles launched Sprinkles Cupcakes in Beverly Hills in 2005. Candace is the quintessential entrepreneur. She is someone who is daring enough to break from the mold, and built an empire with sweat, ingenuity and a dream. She continues to generate ideas and chase new opportunities -- just because that's who she is. In addition to Sprinkles, Candace recently launched her newest culinary venture, Pizzana, a critically-acclaimed pizza restaurant with a location in Brentwood and a second location that just opened in West Hollywood.
Candace's entrepreneurial talents aren't just limited to what she can bake in an oven. She just launched a men's athleisure brand with her husband called Willy, and she’s also built a massive media career. She is the executive producer and judge of a new Netflix baking competition show, Sugar Rush, after being a longtime judge on Food Network's Cupcake Wars. She’s also launching a podcast with Dear Media called Live to Eat. And if that weren't enough, she and her husband make early stage investments in innovative retail and consumer brands through Cm2 Holdings.
Candace's career spans brick and mortar retail, e-commerce, media and investing. Her philosophy is that if something is well-made, people will want to pay for it and indulge, and all of her ventures have proved this to be true.
Our guest for this episode is Dr. Odette Harris. She made history last year when Stanford’s department of neurosurgery announced she would become professor of neurosurgery — a feat that makes Odette the second female professor of neurosurgery at Stanford’s School of Medicine, and the second African-American female professor of neurosurgery anywhere...some truly remarkable achievements despite some serious headwinds.
She was born in Jamaica and earned her undergraduate degree in biology from Dartmouth College in 1991. When she studied medicine at Stanford University, she was the only black woman in her 1996 graduating class. Then, she was one of two women in her residency. And while Odette has also earned a master’s of public health in epidemiology from UC Berkeley, and has received numerous honors and fellowships for her work — among them, awards from the Western Neurological Society and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, and an appointment as the president of Women in Neurosurgery — she is continuously perceived as someone meant to do menial work on the hospital floor, whether it’s taking out the trash or cleaning the bathroom. As Odette puts it, when you’re black and female and working at a mostly white hospital, you’re constantly reminded of that. And asked time and again to defend your credentials.
Odette credits her mentors for encouraging her to keep going. And today, Odette pays that forward as a professor and mentor of students of all kinds of backgrounds, and is vocal about using her own experience to change the norms for both women and people of color. And she does so with poise and positivity.