HOUSTON INNOVATORS PODCAST EPISODE 37

Houston entrepreneur on why social impact innovation is important — now more than ever

Aimee Woodall has been focused on innovation and creativity during COVID-19 for her own company, The Black Sheep Agency, but also for its clients. Photo courtesy of The Black Sheep Agency

As the pandemic hit, most entrepreneurs had only their own company to focus on keeping afloat. Aimee Woodall had her own creative agency — as well as its entire client list.

Her company, The Black Sheep Agency, is brand strategy for exclusively impact-based businesses. Sixty percent of business is nonprofit, she says.

"We write, we design, we build campaigns, we work in the digital space — whatever it takes to tell the story of the organization and to rally other people to not only pay attention to what the organization is doing but to also find their own way to participate in moving that mission forward," Woodall shares on this week's episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast.

Thinking back to when COVID-19 really started affecting business and her campaigns, Woodall remembers how she and her team had to reevaluate existing content, pivot planned projects, and, in some cases, cancel events or programming.

"Not only were we responsible for figuring out how our business will operate and be able to come through this on the other side in a healthy way, but also how do we take this roster of clients and make sure that we are a solid partner to them and that they all come through this in a positive way," Woodall says.

"How we could turn lemons into lemonade and harness this chaos and sustain and stay productive when we can, but also find some silver linings. It was a lot all at once."

She says she's still learning as they go along — something the entire country is doing. But, with social impact being important now more than ever, she's seen an opportunity to grow her company, which has been a silver lining to all the challenges she's faced during this time.

Woodall shares resources for advocates and social impact startups, as well as her thoughts on how companies and individuals can be more cognizant moving forward through the pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement. Listen to the full interview below — or wherever you get your podcasts — and subscribe for weekly episodes.


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Building Houston

 
 

Houston-based medical device and biotech startup Steradian Technologies has been recognized by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Photo by Dwight C. Andrews/Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau

A female-founded biotech startup has announced that it has received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Steradian Technologies has developed a breath-based collection device that can be used with diagnostic testing systems. Called RUMI, the device is non-invasive and fully portable and, according to a news release, costs the price of a latte.

“We are extremely honored to receive this award and be recognized by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a leader in global health. This funding will propel our work in creating deep-tech diagnostics and products to close the equity gap in global public health," says Asma Mirza, CEO and co-founder of Steradian Technologies, in the release. “The RUMI will demonstrate that advanced technology can be delivered to all areas of the world, ensuring the Global South and economically exploited regions receive access to high-fidelity diagnostics instead of solutions that are ill-suited to the environment.”

RUMI uses novel photon-based detection to collect and diagnose infectious diseases in breath within 30-seconds, per the release, and will be the first human bio-aerosol specimen collector to convert breath into a fully sterile liquid sample and can be used for many applications in direct disease detection.

"As the healthcare industry continues to pursue less invasive diagnostics, we are very excited that the foundation has identified our approach to breath-based sample collection as a standout worthy of their support," says John Marino, chief of product development and co-founder. “We look forward to working with them to achieve our goals of better, faster, and safer diagnostics."

Founded in 2017, Steradian Technologies is funded and supported by XPRIZE, Johnson & Johnson’s Lung Cancer Initiative, JLABS TMCi, Capital Factory, Duke Institute of Global Health, and Johnson & Johnson’s Center for Device Innovation.

The amount granted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was not disclosed. The Seattle-based foundation is led by CEO Mark Suzman and co-chaired by Bill Gates and Melinda French Gatess.

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