Tell us your name and a little about yourself.
Hi everyone! First and foremost, thanks for having me. My name is Sophia Yen, MD MPH, and I am the CEO and Co-Founder of Pandia Health. I graduated from MIT, UCSF medical school, and UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health. Formerly, I am also a Clinical Associate Professor in Adolescent Medicine at Stanford and have a passion for making women’s lives better. I enjoy educating the public and other physicians about birth control, acne, weight management, and other adolescent health issues. I believe that birth control and women’s reproductive health is so important, especially in one’s early reproductive life. As a pioneer in the FemTech industry, Pandia Health is starting a genuine conversation to become a resource for women and young women all around the world.
What exactly does your company do?
Pandia Health provides the end to end solution for prescription birth control – from an online doctor’s visit for a prescription to medicines delivered to your door. We start with birth control and will grow as our patients grow – from birth control to acne to babies to menopause. We will be the “Dollar Shave Club for Women” but far more vital and recession proof. We are building “The Brand Women Trust with their Health” and provide access to the 18-35-year-old women’s market to Consumer Product Goods companies.
We are the only women-founded/woman-led and practicing reproductive health physician founded/led company in the birth control delivery space.
What were the biggest challenges you have faced and how did you overcome them?
Getting funding for Pandia Health was definitely a challenge, especially because of the nature of the company. It’s birth control and women’s health – it’s seen as taboo but that’s exactly why our initiatives are so important. These topics should be discussed. Additionally, another challenge was overcoming the bias against women, older founders, mothers, and doctors going into startups. Many of the older investors don’t understand the pain point of running to the pharmacy each month and worrying about running out of birth control. But I was able to overcome this by sharing with my expertise in women’s reproductive health and the numbers. I presented them a comprehensive budget, a detailed growth plan, a list of my entrepreneurship experience: having been treasurer of my sorority and the Class of ‘93 at MIT and my Homeowners Association for 20+ years, and my stamina as an MD and mother. I’m backed by a passionate, experienced, and accomplished team and together we work faster, are more cost-efficient and are showing results.
What piece of advice do you wish someone had given you at the start of your career?
Get everything in writing with your business partners even if they look like the nicest people. Even then they can pressure you to give in. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to get a second opinion. And most importantly, never let someone pressure you into giving up your dream! There will be challenges but you will be able to find a solution if you get people to help you.
Who are your biggest influences and people you admire and why?
All the women entrepreneurs that have come before me AND that are helping those of us who are coming after them and all the male Allies helping women rise. Amy Millman of Springboard Enterprise, Ari Horie of Women’s Startup Lab, Perla Ni (one of my co-founders and serial entrepreneur who is always working to make the world a better place), Sarah Lacy of Chairman Mom for being a Badass and showing that the Uterus is a Feature and Not a Bug (her book) and creating a women’s tech community, Kathy Spillar of the Feminist Majority Foundation for fighting so many important battles (ERA, reproductive rights, Afghan women and girls rights, and more) without giving up or getting discouraged.
My mother taught me, “If you don’t try, you can’t get” (when I was applying to all the UC’s) and “If you don’t ask, you don’t get”, a reminder to ask for what you want. She told me I was beautiful, despite my glasses, purple gauchos, cowboy boots, and instilled confidence in me so when boys rejected me, I was like “You don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m beautiful. I went to modeling school.”
And my father instilled in me academic confidence. “If you don’t understand the material, it’s the teacher, not you.” He showed me that there are multiple ways of teaching and learning. If I didn’t understand the subject, it wasn’t because I was never going to understand the material, but maybe it was the way it was being taught. If I needed to read 2 or 3 other books, one of them would be able to teach me instead.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
It takes a village! I am thankful for my husband and children who have been supportive throughout the Startup and Physician lifestyle, my parents for raising me confidently and helping financially, my siblings and their spouses for their support, and my cousins. The larger village – the women’s community, MIT, Stanford’s StartX, my mentors and advisors and everyone that has worked with Pandia Health thus far, and all those cheering us along the way.
What do you see as your greatest success in life?
Opening Pandia Health, putting together the team, finding the funding, and where we are going next – We are building the Brand Women Trust with Their Health!
How can people contact you?
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