Past Event


Join MedtechWOMEN at BIOMEDevice!

Finding and working with great suppliers takes on a whole new level of challenge when you are growing your company along with your product. This session offers insights for both startup teams and the companies that want to work with them.

Moderator Kate Stephenson, Phd will be joined by panelists Kelly Ashfield, Xina Quan, PhD and Greta Meyer to discuss how they navigated design and manufacturing strategy decisions, as well as what mattered the most when it came to selecting partners.

Tuesday, November 29


Santa Clara Convention Center

Join us for networking immediately following the panel discussion. 

View Full BIOMEDevice Agenda  HERE

Date: November 29, 2022


On Tuesday the 29th of November, MedtechWOMEN sponsored the last and best-attended panel of the day at BIOMEDevice Silicon Valley. Kate Stephenson, PhD moderated a panel of three amazing start-up executives: Kelly Ashfield (COO of Materna Medical), Xina Quan (cofounder and CEO of PyrAmes) and Amanda Calabrese. (Co-Founder and COO of sequel). Over the 45-minute panel, they shared insights for finding partners to build a start-up.

1)      Educate Yourself

Amanda Calabrese can claim one of the best Spring break stories ever. Starting Sequel as an undergraduate in college, she and her Co-Founder Greta Meyer used their holiday to travel to Miami, where they donned blazers and attended a women’s hygiene industrial trade show. The experience was critical to learning the limits of the fiber processing technologies that create modern tampons. With a product that needed to be produced for fractions of a cent, on equipment that costs millions to set up, Sequel has steered a very different path from most high-value medical device startups.

2)      Done is Better than Perfect

While there is always the possibility of an “ideal” partner to do a job, the reality of running a startup involves constant compromise. Xina shared how business students redid her out-of-date marketing deck and a future product idea that was run as a capstone project for a master’s program. While not ideal, work progress was made, and capital was then available to cover more critical expertise, such as professional legal help.

3)      Spell out the Expectations

Kelly is a master of communicating her expectations to potential partners. After being on the other side, at a medtech service provider, for over 10 years, she’s seen a lot of projects veer off from what a client expected and needed. She recommends clear deliverables, milestones and contingency plans on the contract, and regular meetings throughout the term of the project. A good partner is one who asks a LOT of questions and keeps asking them throughout a project. As Kelly shared, “Phase 1 in a design project can mean many different things to different people.”

4)      Seek Cultural Compatibility

New medical device development is a long road, with many opportunities for missteps and changed plans. Feeling comfortable talking about difficult subjects and having a positive response to change is just as important to a long term partnership as the words and numbers in the contract. For Xena, it was one potential partner’s stodgy response to her team’s loose, irreverent joking that waved her off. If they couldn’t laugh at the jokes, how would they manage the difficult conversations?

5)      Have an exit strategy

Even the most perfect partnership can be outgrown and having a plan for a relationship that goes bad can be critical to keeping a startup alive afterwards. What happens to a down payment when your work gets dropped for a bigger client? Will you still meet a critical clinical milestone if your partner’s principal engineer gets sick? If your partner can only make a hundred a week, can they refer you to another partner when you’re ready to scale to 10 times as many? Make sure this is written up clearly in the contract.

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