When we launched IMPERIA, we envisioned a world where experienced women founders mentored early-stage ones, being the people they once needed (and probably couldn’t find).
This International Women’s Day, we are delighted to share one of our favorite mentorship success stories from Cohort 1: Founder Elisa Frenz (Germany) and her mentor, Marissa Fayer (USA). Together they are transforming the world of health care.
We’re especially grateful to see the evolution of Elisa, who has been with us since our earliest days of program testing. We’ve now seen her develop into a CEO making huge strides in Europe. Her mentor, Marissa, is a force in women’s health care globally, and helped bring the 3D mammogram machine into being.
We’re honored to have these incredible women in our community.
What are you currently working on, and where?
My mission is to build health ecosystems that drive sustainable healthcare. I’m leveraging my impact across several international roles to drive better access to health and more resilient health systems. I am able to do this within my function as CEO and Co-Founder of Health Proc Europe Association, a non-profit member organisation based in the UK, in my role as Chief Digital Officer at XMED iQ, the marketplace for hospitals to buy medical consumables and devices, and within my activities as Advisory Member for HERhealthEQ. My main geographical focus is across Europe.
I’m the CEO of HERhealthEQ (a global non-profit deploying medical equipment for women’s health globally), the CEO of DeepLook Medical (a FDA-cleared software technology that helps radiologists measure and visualize soft-tumors, especially breast cancer), and a Partner at Goddess Gaia Ventures (the only dedicated Women’s Health VC Fund investing in companies in the UK, Europe, and Israel and commercializing them to the US). I’m generally working to improve the lives and health of women globally, in several different forms.
Elisa and I were together at the end of February in Barcelona meeting with a partner hospital that is the pilot participant of the European public hospital network for the donation of their excess equipment to HERhealthEQ, for our deployment around the world to ensure women have access to quality medical care.
What drew you to IMPERIA’s program?
I came across Jennifer’s work before she launched IMPERIA, and was drawn by her ambition to change the way how women entrepreneurs stand up for themselves in our today’s world: from a strong core within. I still remember when Jennifer shared with me my match for the program. I was blown away and inspired reading more and more about Marissa’s work and actions in the world and couldn’t believe how lucky I was about this incredible pairing. Thanks for the magic, Jennifer!
Mentoring up-and-coming women is the joy of my lifetime, and this program was detailed, specific, and had a shared purpose of catalyzing women on a global scale. The fact that I was paired with Elisa is the biggest bonus this program could have ever given me.
What’s the most significant thing you learned from your mentor/mentee?
Marissa has been for me an incredible power in being assertive, offering redirection, acting as a sounding board and being such a rock in the surf in moments of doubt and times of lows. I have learnt a lot in respect to becoming more demanding, building and growing upon my self-conception and being sure of having Marissa have my back while keeping me on my path. With Marissa, my sometimes rather bold and unconventional thoughts started to make sense and she pushed and challenged me in my journey that helped me grow and start believing in my own endeavors and adventures.
I learned so much about sustainability…so much so, it became even more core to what HERhealthEQ’s focus is. We’re now focused on how to specifically quantify and truly create sustainable impact, beyond the metrics. Elisa opened my eyes with her passion for the subject and what more we can do with it.
What has become possible as a result of your connection?
I am grateful for having had the opportunity to shape with Marissa my new normal, my new standards that helped me embark and continue on my journey to make a difference on my entrepreneurial path to build more connected and sustainable health systems. Of course, at the time of the program this was not at all crystal clear, but step by step the path cleared up and got polished. I am especially proud, reflecting on the several initiatives we set out and the connections we have built together. Our connection for me is still today a beautiful journey to expand more and more, on a personal and a professional level, knowing that Marissa is beyond a sparring partner, someone that nurtures to get the seemingly impossible done.
Elisa has become a very trusted friend — which is the most important thing. We literally see each other around the world. The other important connection that was forged: Elisa joined HERhealthEQ’s Board of Advisors and we are launching our first few pilot programs in European hospitals to obtain and repurpose equipment for women’s health around the world.
Standing where you are now in your development, what advice would you give to a woman founder just starting her journey?
For me investing in yourself is an essential part, next to building up a diverse and geographically widespread network that supports you not only in times of highs and in staying true to yourself. For me the trickiest part then and now is patience, but I’ve learned it’s crucial in this journey. So my advice is to practice perseverance, focus on the goals you want to achieve, and try to maintain a flexible mind that continuously seeks to learn and grow. Last but not least, never wait until things are perfect: Going out into the world and testing is part of the process.
Know what you want and go for it — but know that it will change throughout the process. If you have your vision set forward, follow-it. It doesn’t matter how long, how hard, or what process it took to get there. If you keep moving forward every day, you’re moving towards your vision and goal. And find allies who can help you.
Wednesday Wisdom takes a deeper dive into the core concepts of IMPERIA’s work, helping to strengthen you from the inside out as you scale your vision.