Title : Rising Star: Cécile Real, Endodiag
Date : 8 February 2016
Each month, LA Report sits down with one of the rising stars of the European startup and entrepreneur community. This month, we catch up with Cécile Real of Endodiag; an SME working towards innovation in disease diagnosis. A seasoned entrepreneur in the medical industry, she co-founded her first start-up, Bioprofile, at the age of 25. When Bioprofile was acquired by a larger company, she co-founded Fluoptics, before co-founding Endodiag in 2011.
LA Report: Why did you set up your company?
I have been an entrepreneur since I was 25. I sold my first company in 2007 and was looking for a new project that could have a strong impact in the healthcare area. I met a surgeon and a scientist who had been working on endometriosis for 20 years, and I was surprised to discover such a limited solution to such a terrible disease. I decided to use my time and experience to develop new solutions for these millions of women suffering from endometriosis.
LA Report: When did you set up your business, and how long did it take?
I started Endodiag in 2011. Prior to launch it took approximately 1.5 years to set up the business.
LA Report: What education or training did you have?
I have a degree in Biomedical Engineering and an MBA (International Business and Technology Management).
LA Report: Where did you source funding to set up your business?
As co-founders, we invested €100,000 initially. We have also been fortunate to receive awards in several start up competitions (€300,000), as well as securing additional funds via a bank loan, public funding and private investors.
LA Report: Were there any EU, national, regional or local business support services, programmes or funding initiatives that helped you set up or grow?
We were lucky enough to have strong support from national and regional organization in term of funding and support.
LA Report: With hindsight, which would have been the single most valuable skill to have before setting up your business?
To always have the self-confidence to trust your own instincts.
LA Report: Do you have a mentor?
I have several mentors who each help me in different areas (i.e. business development, finance, sales, etc.)
LA Report: Who is your greatest role model or inspiration?
Entrepreneurs driven by their goal to positively impact life of their employees, partners and customers.
LA Report: What is the USP that distinguishes your product or service from its competitors?
As there is still no solution available on the market, we do not have competitors yet; but there are some others working on same issues. What make us different is that we are very focus on the problem we are addressing and that we combine skills and experience from people with very different backgrounds. This helps us to think “out of the box” and bring new solutions to complex problems.
LA Report: How does your company impact people’s lives for the better?
180 million women suffer from endometriosis, and it takes an average of nine years to diagnose their disease (even then, this can only be done through surgery). We are working to develop a blood test that will decrease diagnosis down to few months (and avoid the need for surgery-diagnosis), our solutions will significantly impact their lives.
LA Report: How would you describe your progress so far? Are there any significant challenges you have had to overcome?
It takes time to develop and bring medical products to the market, and one of our key challenge is being able to fund this long R&D phase. We have succeeded so far!
LA Reports: How are you planning to grow your business?
We are planning to reinforce our financial resources with private fund-raising this year in order to develop both European and US market options, as well as reinforce our R&D programs towards international collaborations.
LA Report: If you were in charge of the government ministry for SMEs and start-ups, what would be the three most important changes you would make to help them grow?
1) more incentive (fiscal or other) to invest in Start-ups/SMEs;
2) more harmonization of regulation across EU countries;
3) make access to markets easier and/or more accessible for SMEs and encourage/enable large players (private and public) to buy from SMEs.
LA Report: The best thing about being an entrepreneur is…?
The sky, as they say, is the limit!
LA Report: What do you see as the key trends/disruptors for 2016 relevant to entrepreneurs?
In our healthcare sector, I believe we have to bring better solutions to the market for less. The digital revolution is also hitting healthcare, bringing with it a new and exciting field of development. Finally, there I see greater opportunities for collaboration between SMEs and large players opening up.
LA Report: If you could go back to when you were about to start your company and give yourself a single message or piece of advice, what would it be?
The process is always longer than you expect, so take that into account in your business plan!Return to The LOWdown