With this year´s Innovation Challenge about to start, we interviewed Chiara Chianese, MBA alumna, 2019, who has spent the last 12 months transforming her innovation into final project and then entrepreneur project at the Torero Venture Catalyzer, University of San Diego.
Tell us more about your project. How did the idea start?
On the first day of class, we were told about a very intense week coming up in October and warned that 100% dedication would be expected – Entrepreneurship Week! I had to google the word “entrepreneurship” and I remember thinking gosh, I will be so bored! They asked us to find a problem, think of a solution, create a prototype, test the prototype and present it in four and a half days. I remember thinking, that’s impossible, I have been doing research for years and I have never come up with a good idea! This is never going to happen in a couple of hours! The professor repeatedly mentioned the sentence the pain must be real for your product to be useful. My neurons began to activate. I did have a problem I wanted to address – the pain experienced by infertile patients. I had worked with them for years and I knew how they felt. I also had a number of friends who had experienced the infertility journey and it was heart-breaking. At first, I felt insecure about proposing the idea, until a classmate mentioned his interest in learning more about AI and healthcare, so we teamed up and created FertiLite.
How challenging is it to innovate in the medical sector?
The medical sector is a tough one, because it deals directly with people’s lives. Mistakes are not easily forgiven and rightly so.
The first challenge is to understand the target and the goal you want to achieve. With FertiLite, our ultimate goal is to improve the quality of life for infertile patients.
Innovation in healthcare is also extremely time-consuming and expensive. Governmental policies are an issue, it is crucial to understand the policies regulating IVF treatments in different countries in order to scale the business in compliance with the law.
Last, but not least, the most challenging part of innovation in healthcare is trust. If nobody trusts you, they will be reluctant to use you!
What do you think is the added value of your app?
We aim to deliver value by focusing on the patients. With FertiLite, we want to address a real pain overlooked by both the healthcare system and society. Infertility is not life-threatening, so it tends to be put in a corner. Poorer patient care, less funding for research, fewer solutions. FertLite wants to be part of the infertility ecosystem to help raise awareness among those who are lucky enough not to suffer infertility, because they are also part of the picture.
How do you think your EADA experience gave you the tools to succeed?
The MBA, especially the classmates, the professors, the coach, the all-round experience, awoke my curiosity again, it gave me a sense of purpose and motivation.
The atmosphere at EADA is so relaxed and authentic. The focus is on the learning and on the personal growth of each student. EADA really cares about its students, it is not only about business, primarily it’s about people.
Our project went on to be accepted in the Torero Venture Catalyzer at the University of San Diego, where we were paired with entrepreneurship-specific mentors, and have had the chance to further test our business idea, as well as to explore the US market.
We are very happy with the results achieved so far, not only from an academic standpoint. We presented FertiLite at International conferences and the idea was welcomed and very well received, raising the interest of many professionals and potential investors.