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Interview with Cécile Réal, CEO & Founder of Endodiag

May 19, 2014 - Inspiring Interviews
Interview with Cécile Réal, CEO & Founder of Endodiag
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“It’s not an easy path but you have to trust yourself. It’s not because some people do things differently to you, that they are right and you are wrong… Be smart, listen to others, then make your own decision and strategy.”

A Biomedical engineer with an MBA, Cécile has 15 years experience in the medical industry and management of medical start-up companies. President and founder of Bioprofile (1999-2007), innovative orthopaedic implants, she rapidly developed the company and gained strong experience in product development, business development and fundraising.  She developed an international distribution network and integrated Bioprofile into Nexa Orthopedics (USA) in 2005 before being acquired by Tornier in 2007. She then served as COO at Ariana Pharma (2008-2010), a bioinformatics company specialized in biomarkers discovery and co-founded Fluotpics, a Fluorescence Imaging company for cancer surgery, in 2009 where she sits on the Advisory board. In 2011, Cecile co-founded and became CEO of Endodiag, a diagnostics company specialised in endometriosis. Cécile won the Cartier Women’s Intiative Award for Europe in 2012. Visit the Endodiag website. 

“We all need to learn from each other.”

 

Who is your role model as an entrepreneur?

I don’t really have just one entrepreneur as a model –we all need to learn from each other. When I started out as an entrepreneur, I was always very keen to meet other entrepreneurs and to see how they built and managed their companies. I exchanged experiences with them and tried to build my own way to develop my companies. I can think of several people from different kinds of companies that inspire me. The kind of people that inspire me are those who build a great team to build their company – and the way that they grow together as a team to achieve their company’s success. 

What is your greatest achievement to date?

Endodiag is my second company. With my first company, we built a great team and developed a new solution to help improve the quality of life of our patients. We decided to sell the company in order to grow the company faster and ensure that the product was accessible to patients more quickly than what we could achieve ourselves as a small company. Even though we sold the company, the brand and product still exists today. Some of the team from my first company came with me to my second company and I’m really happy about that. I work in the health industry and my driver is to improve other people’s health, that’s why we wanted to get the product out faster. That is a huge achievement to me.

“Before, I used to be the only woman entrepreneur at business conferences – now I am happy to have more women entrepreneurs around me! We are not 50/50 yet, but at least there are more women around now.”

 

What has been your biggest challenge as a Women Entrepreneur?

Being a women entrepreneur was a big challenge for me, particularly when I set up my first company at age 25 – I had two problems: I was young and a woman! I think things have changed a lot lately regarding the perception people have of women entrepreneurs. When I first started, it was difficult to be heard or respected. You always need to be excellent to try to convince people because you start with a negative credit of credibility and you have to fight more. That was true for the financial community, which was not easy to deal with as a women. Surprisingly, it was sometimes more difficult to talk in front of other women, and sometimes it was more difficult to deal with the medical professionals. That was 15 years ago, so when I started my new company 3 years ago, I didn’t feel any of these issues – maybe it’s because I had gained a lot of experience! Before, I used to be the only woman entrepreneur at business conferences – now I am happy to have more women entrepreneurs around me! We are not 50/50 yet, but at least there are more women around now.

“We live in an ever-changing environment, where the rules are changing – often and fast – and we need to anticipate without knowing the rules for the coming years.”

 

What in your opinion, is the key to your company’s success?

You always need to have a clear plan, be focused and stay flexible. We live in an ever-changing environment, where the rules are changing often and fast and we need to anticipate without knowing the rules for the coming years. This has an impact on our financing because we need to be well funded in the medical industry, as the time to market is quite long, as well as the length of time it takes to develop products. The regulation and healthcare systems are constantly changing  – so we need to anticipate those changes and be flexible in our business model.

“Our company success has been built on flexibility and agility”

One of the key factors is to have a dedicated team and be able to attract new talent, while at the same time making sure that the new people you bring on board stay true to your values from the initial group. There are two levels of challenge- first to ensure we keep the same culture/mindset while bringing on people with new vision and talents who positively challenge the status quo. Secondly, when your company grows, people’s roles change and you need to ensure that the people who have been with you the longest understand the changes, that maybe they will not be as involved as much in everything as before. So to sum up, I’d say our company success has been built on flexibility and agility.

 “You always need to have a clear plan, be focused and stay flexible.”

 

If you could do one thing differently, what would that be?

We try to be as international as possible and maybe I would try to make us even more international. It’s always hard when you are a small team. The future markets we are targeting are very different – to have a bi-cultural team or implantation earlier could have been interesting.

“It’s not an easy path but you have to trust yourself. It’s not because some people do things differently to you, that they are right and you are wrong… Be smart, listen to others, then make your own decision and strategy.”

 

What would you say to others to encourage them to become entrepreneurs?

You have to try and not be shy to go ahead and do it! As I often say, if you knew beforehand what you were going to face when becoming an entrepreneur, you would never do it!  It’s not an easy path but you have to trust yourself. There is more than one way to be successful and you have to make your own way. It’s not because some people do things differently to you, that they are right and you are wrong. I do feel that sometimes women do have a lack of confidence in themselves. Some people will agree with you and some won’t, but that’s not a good enough reason for you not to do it. Be smart, listen to others, then make your own decision and strategy. I often see other women entrepreneurs do that, taking in other’s opinion to make their own decisions.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I rely a lot on my team, even more the second time than the first. I look for autonomous people, give them a lot of trust and space to achieve their own goals. I also tend to share a lot of experience, share the good and bad news with my team. I also take time to ensure they have understood why we are doing something – if I see that they haven’t understood something fully, I go back to explain it again to ensure they agree and are on board. It’s easier when you are a small team, but when your team grows you do need to adjust your leadership style.

“Trust your instinct!… In the beginning, I spent a lot of time asking for advice and following consensus, and sometimes followed a group decision, even when my gut told me otherwise. With experience I realised that when I have an instinct about something, it’s usually right.”

 

What advice would you give your younger self?

Trust your instinct! I have always had business partners, especially the first time I set up a company, when they were all older men. With experience I realised that when I have an instinct about something, it’s usually right. In the beginning, I spent a lot of time asking for advice and following consensus and sometimes followed a group decision, even when my gut told me otherwise. Your instinct is not always right , but most of the time it is – so do trust your instinct!

 

What would you like to achieve in the next 5 years?

Endodiag is working on a big health issue that is not well known yet. For me our objective is to change the paradigm of this disease and bring new solutions, working with other groups to build awareness on this disease, and change the lives of those women who are really suffering a lot who are not really considered.

 

3 key words to describe yourself:

  • Positive and Optimistic
  • Charismatic leader
  • Very professional high standards

 

“ Women need to feel equal to men – we have all the talents and competencies to build large companies, we just need to go and do it!”

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Anne Ravanona is the Founder and CEO of Global Invest Her – Catalysts for getting Women Entrepreneurs Funded faster and building Gender-Inclusive Workplaces. A TEDx Speaker, Anne regularly speaks at global conferences on the topics of Funding for Women Entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship and leadership. A Huffington Post contributor, Astia Advisor, she is passionate about funding and inspiring women entrepreneurs. Follow her on Twitter @anneravanona @GlobalInvestHer
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