After a cancer scare and communicating on Facebook with other cervical and gynecological cancer survivors, Rachel Bartholomew, Founder & CEO, HyIvy Health realized there was room for innovation within this area of healthcare. “While recovering, I pieced together what I thought a solution could be,” Bartholomew said. “Next, I started radiation and I saw that as an opportunity to validate my idea from a clinical perspective with the doctors I had appointments with.” She said she further validated her ideas with the women with whom she connected on the Facebook groups. The result is HyIvy Health!
As a previous software business owner, one of the biggest challenges Bartholomew faced was learning the technical and medical side as well as combining software and hardware. Regulatory requirements, producing a product, preparing for manufacturing and collecting customer research were also challenging components of her new business. An additional layer was discovering a lack of data related to female health which lead her to add a medical research aspect to HyIvy.
Working with Innovation Guelph in the Rhyze Ventures program has provided Bartholomew with further validation from the women in the program and even from competitors. “It humbles you to know you are not alone in the application and business side,” she said. She also values bringing women together and making lasting connections. Her mentor Reda Fayek helped her with decision-making backed by his medical experience and guidance in how to adapt. “He’s like my champion,” she said.
As an experienced entrepreneur, Bartholomew said she decided not to be shy in her approach to business this time. She recommends getting out there, asking for what you need and turning negatives into actionable positives.
“You have to put the work into really understanding your business. If you do, it will show,” she said. She has learned that negative or critical feedback has the most value and presents opportunities to improve and refine.