By Patrick Kipngetich Cheboi
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Changing the World, One Startup at a Time; Meet Runway Virtual’s Own Leesa Soulodre
Welcome back to another episode of the “Perfect Pitch Show” where Brandon Burns, Head of Community – Runway Virtual, interviews small business founders / entrepreneurs about the secret sauce to their successful start-up journey.
Today, in the Perfect Pitch Show, we speak to Leesa Soulodre. Originally from Singapore, Leesa is an Author, a Chief Innovation Officer of Zeniel, a Venturi Builder VC, and a Board Member at Runway Virtual.
As an investor, Leesa spends a majority of her day with the founders of different startups she invests in and helps them develop company portfolios. Additionally, she also spends some of her time communicating with investors and helping them raise funds for their projects. Lastly, she connects with various customers and helps them accelerate their companies into corporations.
To give a clearer picture of her daily business interactions, Leesa narrates her latest encounter with a Runway Virtual graduate company, Rubens Technology. Rubens Technology is an outstanding, globally recognized company that has specialized in providing quality assurance in the fresh fruits market.
Through her interaction with Ruben’s head, Daniel Pelliccia, Leesa was able to connect him to the largest Chilean agricultural company that leads in the production of blueberries in chile. Currently, the company is using Ruben’s technology to provide providence to consumers, additionally, they add quality to their blueberries, for instance, picking them at the right moment of absolute sweetness, eliminating the need to add sugar flavors in by-products such as yogurt.
How do you make your day more efficient?
To ensure that she optimizes productivity in short stints, Leesa uses the Pomodoro Technique. In this technique, she sets aside 25 minutes onto which she focuses on completing specific tasks. Afterward, she rewards herself with a short break of five minutes. The Pomodoro technique helps us get maximum uplifting productivity at the same time relieving the brain from exhaustion. It also creates room to meet people.
Since appointments can take up most of her days, Leesa opts to use the Calendly platform, which allows her clients to book appointments in her calendar for themselves. Here they can align their schedules with hers minimizing interruptions as well as eliminating the need for a valuable assistant.
High-performance productivity planner.
To ensure high productivity in a single day, Leesa plans a schedule for the following day before going to bed. To achieve these, she uses the High-Performance productivity planner platform. On the first page, she lists her five main projects, and these will determine what she will do the next day.
On the first what-to-do page of her planer, she lists the names of people and contacts she has to reach out to before the day's end: These include founders, investors, and clients.
Secondly, she lists the people she needs something from, such as investors, founders, or media. These people are required to get her startups going.
Lastly, her third page contains the high-priority issues she has to handle before engaging herself with her daily business; these, she will sort them out before opening her mail inbox.
Afterward, she arranges these needs in line with her Pomodoro technique.
Currently, Leesa has focused on a health startup known as Stratificare, which is a personalized medical diagnostic health care startup that focuses on Dengue fever testing solutions. Dengue fever is a neglected infectious disease which is common in warmer areas around the equator. Just like Malaria, Dengue fever is transmitted through mosquito bites. However, unlike malaria, only one in five people get a degue fever reaction.
Stratificare was founded by Prof. Mary Ng' as a part of her research and has been commercialized privately with the help of her research team.
As Leesa explains, stratificare provides accurate dengue fever testing solutions. Instead of the five victims spending time and money in a health facility waiting to see if they will experience a dengue fever reaction, stratificare provides a testing solution that predicts if a patient will get the reaction or not with a 97% accuracy. This saves limited resources in hospitals, time, and medical bills money for the patients.
Why does she like this startup? According to Leesa, a good startup should change the level of information risk, and Stratificare accomplished this at the start of its journey. The startup is currently trying to align the incentives and cut off the middlemen paving the way for them to own the market and to save more lives through their products.
Looking back at her first startup, One. Tel, which collapsed in 2001, Leesa thinks that lack of strategic planning caused its corporate fallout and bankruptcy.
A strategy would have helped them foresee a forthcoming bankruptcy, and they could have sold out the company beforehand. Additionally, they could have diversified their system and ease crisis management. Lastly, a strategy could have helped them recruit the right customers who fit their ethos and philosophies.
However, this one mistake came to shape her career as she learned tonnes of lessons at an early age. Nevertheless, she believes that the company delivered value to customers despite the challenges such as deregulations.
The best piece of advice
According to Leesa, when one is pioneering in the frontiers of technology, they should only have their leads in mind in times of uncertainties. She further explains that having your leads in mind will enable you to ask yourself these basic questions; Is your decision legal? Is it ethical based on your values and virtues? Is it acceptable? Is it defendable? Is it sensible?
Additionally, does the decision change who you are as a company? Does it change who you are as a person? Leesa bestows this advice to Mike Love, who was the chief advisor to Margret Thatcher, the communication director of McDonald's during the mad cow crisis, the Bt head of communications during the net neutrality war and also the chief advisor to Microsoft during the antitrust war.
The worst advice
Leesa states that the worst advice she ever received was from her husband. At the early stages of their careers, her husband closed down bankrupt startups while her work involved opening new ones. The contrasts did not end in their jobs; it extended to their personalities. The french starting position is ‘it is not possible;’ and the Aussie entrepreneurship way is that "everything is possible" - so she will always work her way to make it so.
What should people do?
Leesa states that she wishes people could invest more in the health sector and increase efficiency in line with the current global pandemic. She calls for support of startups such as stratificare, whose innovation will increase productivity in the health systems by availing scarce health resources to those who need it the most. Such innovations will improve patient outcomes, save lives at the same time, reducing the cost of medication.
Lastly, she welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with anyone who has access to clinicians and medical health workers who are willing to partner with Stratificare in availing the much-needed services to their customers.
Finally, Leesa believes that the main thing that ties founders down is incomplete financials. She, therefore, advises founders to connect to zero and integrate their banks so that their VC can access the records when needed.
Additionaly, they should check out Digify for data bank needs. The platform specifies which investors spent time on your portfolio.
To learn more about Leesa and Stratificare, check out the following links
Leesa Soulodre LinkedIn
Leesa Soulodre Official Website
www.digify.com - Promo - LEESA50