Archive for November, 2019

FemTech Opportunities and Challenges

November 25, 2019


FountainBlue produced an educational and thought-provoking FemTech Opportunities and Challenges program, in partnership with NEOME and hosted by Fenwick and West.

Thank you to our panelists, our presenting entrepreneurs, our hosts, our volunteers, and our attendees for their supporting in creating a powerhouse event, which covered everything from the market opportunity to the stories-from-the-trenches, from the funding details to the presenting companies with practical offerings in the market today. Below are some notes from the conversation.

It takes a village to put together such a powerhouse event, which covered everything from the market opportunity to the stories-from-the-trenches, from the funding details to the presenting companies with practical offerings in the market today.

Our attendees consistently remarked on the exceptional educational and practical value of the program, as well as the exceptional opportunity to meet each other and each of you. They each are thinking differently about the femtech opportunity and where they would each fit as entrepreneurs, as customers, as advocates, as professionals, as investors.

Below are some notes for your review and approval. Any comments are welcome.

We were fortunate to have such seasoned Femtech professionals on the panel, each speaking so authentically about the challenges they faced and the opportunities ahead around Femtech. 

We launched the program by defining the femtech market and the opportunities and challenges ahead. Our panelists consistently remarked on the collaboration which take place around femtech investment, and also exclaimed on the great need in the market, plus the innovations available to address the needs of female patients. 

We have obviously come far from the days decades ago when we knew so little about the female physiology, structure, biology – treating women like mini-men. But we have much farther to go to understand how to design and implement solutions which fully support the many opportunities around femtech.

Our panel agreed that many steps need to be taken to increase the number of start-ups and solutions.

  1. We need to increase the pipeline of men and women interested in learning the science and the technology and persistent enough to create solutions.
  2. We need to fund research around the many facets of femtech, prioritizing areas where there’s the greatest need, so that you can serve more people, and increase the likelihood of having a viable company.
  3. We need to translate the research into practical applications which can go to market, in a way which is practical, sustainable, affordable.
  4. We need to build companies and market these solutions – prove that there’s a market that’s willing to pay the price to sustain the company.
  5. We need to finance the companies which have proven there’s a viable and expanding market for the offering.
  6. Companies which are receiving funding need to execute on their plan and scale the operations which bring in the margins expected by investors, while also delivering the value demanded by their customers.
  7. Once the company is scaling and profitable and growing, and when it makes sense, successful exits will help bring further interest, further energy, further funding into the Femtech market.

Any of the steps above invite further collaboration. Any of our panelists and their organizations and peers would help leaders and companies and investors better contribute to femtech solutions at all levels.

We each applauded our presenting entrepreneurs offered us glimpses into the wide breadth of opportunities around FemTech. Please approach them directly for further information about how you can support their company as an investor, as an ambassador, as a contributor. 

The bottom line is that there’s an ecosystem of players, and we ALL need to support and encourage, through education and mentoring, scientists, especially women, so they can 1) conduct the research 2) translate that research into patents, and then 3) further help them envision, create and execute those patents into fundable companies.

We hope that this event helped you better understand this emerging business opportunity, and that you become more interested in participating in this Sheconomy, focusing on Femtech solutions and opportunities – in collaboration with the full ecosystem, to deliver tangible and immediate results.


Thursday, November 21, 5:30-8:00 p.m.

Location: Fenwick and West, 600 Castro Street, Mountain View

FemTech Opportunities and Challenges

See invitation and bios by visiting

Feminine health issues around everything from fertility to menstruation, from reproductive health to sexual wellness have arisen over the centuries. But in this age of information, the solutions involve integrated software and devices solutions which provide diagnostic and even curative support for female patients. 

Our panel of activists and investors will profile the opportunities and challenges around FemTech and make predictions on what’s working now, what will work in the near future, plus advise us on how we can better collaborate to anticipate and address market needs.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
  • Panelist Anula Jayasuriya, Founder and Managing Director, EXXclaim Capital
  • Panelist Dr. Mitzi Krockover, Managing Director and Co-Chair Health Sector Committee, Golden Seed
  • Panelist Nola E Masterson, Board Member, Professor, and Lead Investor in Portfolia FemTech Fund 
  • Panelist Einat Meisel, Partner, Head of Israel Practice, Fenwick & West
  • with Keynote created by Reenita Das, SVP Healthcare, Frost and Sullivan

To wrap up the panel discussion, we will also profile several emerging femtech entrepreneurs for three minute presentations with three minutes of Q&A. Presenting Entrepreneurs included: 

  • Robert A. Feldman PhD, President and CEO, Prime Genomics, Inc
  • Tracy MacNeal, President & CEO, Materna Medical 
  • Greta Meyer, co-founder and CEO, Tempo 
  • Claire Thomas, Founder and CEO, Tua Fertility  
  • Soody Tronson, Founder and CEO, Presque

Celebrating World-Changing Women

November 25, 2019


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Our November 22 program was on the topic of ‘Celebrate World-Changing Women’. We would like to thank our dynamic, world-changing panelists for sharing your inspiring and practical insights,, our gracious hosts at WeAct for their on-site support, the NEOME delegation for being an active partner this week, and to everyone who showed up and joined the conversation! Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have a humble and accomplished group of world-changing women for our NEMOE World-Changers program. They came from a variety of backgrounds, but had much in common.

  • They are accomplished professionals and did many different things in their varied careers.
  • They are resilient competitors, proven professionals, and stalwart champions for excellence in the many ways it can be defined.
  • They are loyal friends, spouses, parents, mentors, and leaders, committed to giving back much more than they were gifted by those closest to them in formative years.

Below are some best practices on how to become a better world-changer.

  • Believe that you can do just as well as others, no matter how much someone else thinks that you can’t do something because of your gender, your background, your appearance, etc.,
  • Keep a positive and constructive outlook, even when the behavior of others makes that challenging.
  • Play your side of the net – manage your own perceptions, thoughts, words, actions, rather than trying to manage the thinking, speaking and actions of others, which is much more difficult.
  • Together we are better. Advocate for others. Make a stand for justice and the greater good.
  • Back the leaders who get the importance of diversity and inclusive, those who take action on making the workplace more diverse and inclusive.
  • Embrace the surprising and unexpected opportunities which present themselves, even when they make you feel uncomfortable.
  • When you’re feeling down and distraught, try a little perspective. Are you addressing a ‘first-world’ problem? Are there others with much more serious and severe issues which put your own problem into perspective?
  • Be your own activist, your own advocate.
  • Don’t just grovel and complain. Transcend your circumstances.

In this room, filled with such powerful, forward-thinking women, each so strong, so sincere, so collaborative, I felt like together we could rule the world, one conversation, one leader, one organization at a time.

Cradle to Greatness

November 25, 2019



FountainBlue produced its first event for the NEOME Israeli tech women angel delegation on Wednesday, Nov 20, entitled ‘Supporting Women from Cradle to Greatness’.

Our panelists were passionate and experienced professionals who have navigated both corporate and start-up roles and positions. They generously shared their stories, their challenges and their best practices on how to create and support a collaborative ecosystem within Silicon Valley and beyond.

They agreed on the challenges:

  • Increasing the pipeline of diverse, talented tech professionals;
  • Recruiting, retaining and developing our current talent pool;
  • Ensuring that conscious and unconscious biases don’t make the challenge of recruiting diverse talent even more difficult.

Our panelists further remarked on the policies, processes, and lack of leadership and follow-through which often making it more difficult to bring more women into tech positions and advancing to high ranks within organizations.

But none of our panelists would settle on pointing to challenges. They are women of action and recommended the following best practices:

  • Focus on adopting a can-do, positive mindset.
  • Support others as mentors and sponsors so that we can all be stronger.
  • Show girls as young as middle school that they too can succeed in math and science and STEM in general. Provide them practical and rewarding experience which help them gain confidence, and question their own perceptions about who they are and what they can do.
  • Encourage girls to keep reaching for stars.
  • Overcome the social and policy standards which make it more difficult for girls and women to succeed in STEM roles and in leadership roles.

Our presenting entrepreneurs showcased the connections across networks and organizations. The entrepreneurial women who presented showed the grit it takes to succeed in innovation and leadership, and highlighted how start-ups are addressing urgent, real-world issues, while also providing sustainable business and operational models.  

In the end, our panelists and our attendees agreed that the openness and collaboration create a ‘tribe-like’ community that’s uniquely Silicon Valley. With that said, this open, collaborative, entrepreneurial spirit can be replicated elsewhere, and that successes internationally can also include the energy, the funding, the connections of Silicon Valley.

Please join me in thanking our panelists and presenting entrepreneurs and our hosts at TechLAB.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue; Director, Vonzos Partners; Managing Director, TechLAB 
  • Panelist Gargi (Nalawade) Adhav, Leading next-gen initiatives at Google Cloud 
  • Panelist Serpil Bayraktar, Distinguished Engineer, Cisco; Global Chair for Women in Tech (WIT) @ Cisco 
  • Panelist Ronit Polak, VP Quality Assurance, Palo Alto Networks and co-founder and board chair, High Tech, High Heels 
  • Panelist Sara Rauchwerger, TechLAB Managing Director

featuring Presenting Entrepreneurs, 3 minute presentation, 3 minute Q&A 

  • Heather Potters, cofounder, PharmaJet 
  • Alexis Snelling, Founder and CEO, Life Cafe 
  • Chen Yahva-Levanon, CEO, MyKumbaya  

with welcoming remarks by Sara Rauchwerger, TechLAB Managing Director and opening remarks by Inbal Polak, Co-founder and CIO of NEOME Women Investing Club

Unconscious Bias

November 11, 2019

Left to Right: Sonya, Megan, Martha, Linda, Alia, Sujatha

FountainBlue’s November 8 When She Speaks event on the topic of Overcoming Unconscious Bias. Our panelists represented a wide range of perspectives and backgrounds, yet they had much in common.

  • Each are intelligent, driven, flexible and competent enough to excel in a corporate environment while remaining business-focused and people-centric.
  • Each are committed to sharing their best practices, in the interest of supporting the larger community.
  • Each has the self-awareness and confidence to address and confront their own unconscious biases, and stoically plod on the self-improvement journey, while supporting others with theirs.

They shared their advice with wisdom, insight and humor.

  • Be slow to judge, quick to support.
  • Be actively thinking, actively listening to what’s said and what’s meant.
  • Look closely, judge kindly.
  • Reflection and introspection help people get grounded and centered.
  • Take all the help you can get to manage your own unconscious biases – whether it’s through your company, your trusted board of advisers, your school and community, etc.,
  • Choose to be the bigger person when you are the one being judged. Consistently build that brand of taking the high road. Deliver with your results.
  • Recruit others to support you in overcoming biases, conscious and conscious.
  • Watch your language. Manage your filters. 
  • Pick your battles. Address the mid-term and long-term goals. The short term battles are difficult to win, especially when the biases aren’t conscious, when the judgements run deep.
  • Know what you can influence and what you can’t influence. Accept what you can’t influence – (at least not in the short term.)
  • Watch the packaging – how you dress, look and act may have others judging you favorably or unfavorably. Aim not to offend.
  • Have honest conversations with yourself about any biases you might have.
  • Immerse yourself in uncomfortable situations and circumstances so that you can better understand those who are not-like-you.
  • Spell out how others are categorized and considered for hiring and promotion. Is it fair and just? Is it generating the diverse results you say you’re seeking?
  • Create processes which would help others fairly consider all options.
  • Watch the exceptions that you’re making, to ensure that those exceptions are fairly distributed.

In the end, we concluded that it’s hard to be open to your own biases when you don’t know that you have them, or what they are. Assume that you do. That everyone does.

You can only manage your own journey, and support others as they manage theirs.

Please join me in thanking our panelists for FountainBlue’s November 8 When She Speaks event on the topic of Overcoming Unconscious Bias and our gracious hosts at Aruba HPE.

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue 
  • Panelist Alia Ayub, Vice President of Tax, Lam Research
  • Panelist Megan Cheek, Head of Human Resources, Anatomage
  • Panelist Sujatha Mandava, VP of Product Management, Aruba HPE
  • Panelist Sonya Pelia, CMO, Cira Apps Limited
  • Panelist Martha Ryan, Executive Director Business Transformation, Maxim


November 11, 2019
Mentorship2019HonoreesFountainBlue’s First Annual Mentorship Awards event, part of the When She Speaks series, was scheduled for November 1.
Our mentorship awardees this year had a wide range of backgrounds and experiences, but each had much in common:
  • they each valued the input of the mentors from an early age and on an ongoing basis;
  • they worked with their companies to create a program which support dozens and even hundreds of men and women;
  • they each continued to mentor others as they themselves advanced in their careers;
  • they are each committed to continuing to mentor others, on top of their immense work responsibilities, community commitments, and the day-to-day joys and challenges of a busy family.
Our panelists agreed on the short term and long-term benefits of mentorship. Mentors can help solve current problems, but they can also help with longer-term gains building confidence, expanding perception, providing support, especially when times are tough.
There are many reasons to become a mentor. Not only is it personally satisfying, but also supports the professional development of mentees, but also the team and organization as a whole. Mentoring is a great way to give back – to your team, to your company, to your community, to the next generation. 
Below is a summary of mentorship best practices.
  • The mentoring relationship is a dynamic one – the needs of both mentors and mentees change over time. Clear communication from both sides help ensure productive interactions between mentees and mentors.
  • One goal from a mentorship relationship is to develop a ‘thicker skin’, so that the mentee is more resilient and confident even if an environment is less than ideal.
  • Mentors can successfully mirror behavior or attitude of the mentee, so that she/he can better understand how others are responding to them.
  • There are many different kinds of mentors and mentoring relationships. Just because you have a technical mentor doesn’t mean that you don’t also need a mentor to help navigate a new role, for example.
  • Mentors can help filter messages and information, so that you focus on what’s important and use your time most wisely.
  • Mentor people at all levels, not just those designated as ‘high-potential’. Even if the mentee never gets into management levels, that mentee would have more influence and more confidence in whichever level they’re in.
  • With that said, make sure that both mentors and mentees are willing participant. It doesn’t work to mandate a mentor-mentee relationship.
  • Have specific criteria if you’re matching mentors and mentees, and have direct communication to ensure that both parties continue to benefit from the connection.
Every speaker remarked on how important it was to develop our people, our relationships, and how mentorship is a critical tool to grow everyone at all levels at scale.

Please join me in congratulating FountainBlue’s 2019 Mentorship Honorees.
  • Amber Barber, Sr. Manager Business Operations Management, Lam Research
  • Serpil Bayraktar, Distinguished Engineer, Chief Architect’s Office – Development, Cisco
  • Christina Lewis, BU Controller/Director, Enterprise Finance, Western Digital
  • Ronit Polak, VP, Quality Assurance, Palo Alto Networks
  • Kavita Shah, Senior Director, Strategic Marketing, Nova Measuring Instruments
Thank you also to our hosts at Lam Research, to Erin Yeaman, Managing Director of HR, Lam Research and to Mike Snell, Vice President of Operations, Global Operations, Lam Research for their introductory remarks. 

Data is the New Black

November 9, 2019


FountainBlue’s November 1 VIP roundtable, on the topic of ‘Data is the New Black’. Thank you also to our gracious host at Automation Anywhere. Below are notes from the conversation.  

Here’s the thing about data:

  • There’s a wealth of it, and it’s just getting overwhelming bigger.
  • It drives everything – every industry, every person, every company. 
  • It’s good news for the semiconductor industry and other sectors which make sure that we have the storage, the energy, the network needed so that people can keep getting access to that data.
  • Data within legacy systems might be valuable, but it is likely also difficult to access.
  • Data across multiple sources might be useful, but it is likely to connect data across multiple source into a common dataset, useful enough to understand problems and make decisions.

With that said, here’s the challenge and opportunity around data.

  • There’s so much of it that we need to filter it first to identify which data is relevant and then also for what we need immediately, what we need in the short term, and what we might need in the long term.
  • It takes a lot of energy and resources to keep the data, so we must be strategic about what data to keep and how we can efficiently get it into the hands of those who need it most.
  • Compliance to security and privacy issues make data management high-stakes for all. 
  • Having an interoperable standard for data sharing might help better integrate data across sources, teams, companies, industries.
  • Customers today are empowered and fickle. Companies must be able to innovate and customize more quickly to serve their needs.
  • Even adopted solutions have much shorter life cycles today, as customers want solutions which are better and faster and more battery efficient. 
  • People are at the heart of the problem around data privacy. They want their privacy and their access. It’s hard to give people both at the same time every time.  

Below are some shared best practices:

  • Make a plan on how data is gathered, managed and distributed. 
  • Plan for a future with much more data. Be selective about what data is important.
  • Collaborate with other people, companies and industries and share best practices.
  • Focus your data plans on the needs of your customers and your partners.
  • Consider the intentions and ethics around the people and companies providing the data.
  • Policy may not be the answer to managing data mishandling. Indeed, it may cause more complications, less fairness.
  • People should be responsible enough to know how their data is used and astute enough to take the data they receive with a grain of salt – even to the point of questioning the validity of the data and the intentions of the party providing the data.
  • Create solutions with tiny form factors to better address the needs of demanding customers.
  • Ask for less information from customers when you ask them to sign up for something – the less friction you’re providing to the customer experience, the better results you could get.
  • There will be a growing convergence of tech and ethics and values. Speak to the elephant in the room – facilitate that conversation between stakeholders within and across organizations.  
  • Use fewer resources to manage ‘garbage data’. Yes, all data might one day be useful, but focus on the data that’s more likely to be useful, now and soon, rather than data which might one day be useful. 

Below are thoughts on the future opportunities.

  • The future may have more self-learning – e.g. more AI, less raw data.
  • Use ML to identify patterns early enough to address and even prevent diseases. 
  • Making sense of unstructured data provides huge opportunities. 

The bottom line is that data is everywhere – the use of access and usage are complicated, the stakes are high – you want to give the right people immediate and full access without compromising the integrity and accuracy of the data, and while respecting the privacy of those who ‘own’ the data. 

Mentorship vs Sponsorship

November 1, 2019


Of course it’s not an either-or. You need BOTH great mentors and great sponsors to advance and succeed. We talked for the last two posts about mentors, and they are GREAT. Most people can’t advance without them. But based on my decades of direct and indirect experience, the TRUE differentiation is around sponsorship. Below are some reasons why I think that’s the case.

  1. Sponsors, by definition, have the influence, ability and power to nominate, vote for, and hire into key positions.
  2. Sponsors can be coaches and mentors as well, but they also have the ability to support the advancement into a higher level within an organization. Generally coaches and mentors are not also sponsors.
  3. Coaches and mentors might help someone shift into a new role, industry or level, but a sponsor help hard-working, energetic and unproven people actually land in new role or position.
  4. Coaches are more likely to have received training on how to coach. Sponsors aren’t necessarily trained to be sponsors. In fact, sponsors may not even realize they are sponsoring someone. They are focusing on solving a problem – connecting the right people to the right organization/problem set.
  5. Mentors are generally intentional about their mentorship goal, but Sponsors are not necessarily intentional their sponsorship goals and objectives. 
  6. Sponsors, are generally more results- and business- focused rather than people-focused (although of course, they care about the person they’re sponsoring).
  7. Whereas coaches and mentors may be more helpful resolving deep tactical challenges, sponsors may provide more insights with strategic challenges.
  8. Sponsors focus on immediate challenges, as mentors as coaches do, but they also address longer-term challenges, such as proactively building a leadership pipeline, bringing in ideas and talent which would stretch business and technology edge cases, and facilitating collaboration across people, technologies, and teams.
  9. Coaches and mentors touch people at all levels within an organization, whereas sponsors care for people at all levels, but focus on people who have the most impact and influence on others within the organization.
  10. In general, coaches and mentors look from the bottom up – helping the mentee/coached navigate the corporate challenges and opportunities from their own point of view. Sponsors however, help their sponsored employee take a longer-term, strategic, top-down approach about the needs of the company and the value they can bring to the table in the near-term and for the long-term.

Your mileage may vary. Your thoughts are welcome. E-mail us at 

Join us for our December 13, 2019 Second Annual ‘Men Who Open Doors’ panel discussion, featuring some outstanding male sponsors.