HOUSTON INNOVATORS PODCAST EPISODE 54
When COVID-19 hit, Ayse McCracken realized that women in health care were going to be disproportionately affected by the pandemic and social isolation. As the founder and board chair of Ignite Healthcare Network, a nonprofit dedicated to connecting and promoting female health tech entrepreneurs, McCracken jumped to provide a virtual way to connect her members.
"With COVID, it has only escalated the importance of our work, so we've elevated our voices through our webinar series," McCracken says on this week's Houston Innovators Podcast.
The webinars featured prominent women in health care discussing leaderships, the effect of the pandemic, and more. Now, Ignite has introduced an entirely new virtual event series focused on startups and, something slightly unexpected: basketball. Ignite Madness begins tomorrow, October 22, and will feature 35 startups. The startups will be narrowed down to seven finalists, who will then pitch at the finals next Thursday, October 29. Click here to register.
"We wanted to do something that was kind of fun and engaging for people while showcasing great entrepreneurs. We didn't want it to just be a pitch event," McCracken says. "When you look at basketball, the similarities were very interesting."
Women make up a significant portion of the fan base for basketball, McCracken says she discovered, and she had the idea of featuring female coaches into the pitch competition. Seven college basketball coaches will be involved in the event as mentors, sharing their own stories.
McCracken says she was strategic when organizing the pitch competition and made sure the competing companies were representative of both the industry's innovation and of diversity. The startups from 13 states across the United States and six other countries — 43 percent of the founders pitching are women of color.
"When we say women, we mean women of all colors and ethnicities," McCracken says. "We have made sure that our leadership team is diverse and inclusive. Everything we do, you'll see women in a very inclusive way."
While you'll have to watch the pitches yourself, McCracken says, the startups are focusing on novel medical devices, cancer detection, and nanotech-based treatment selection platforms, mental health platforms, telehealth solutions, digital solutions for women's health issues like fertility, and so much more.
McCracken shares more about what viewers can expect from the event as well as the important role women in health care play and the evolution of the industry in Houston on the podcast. You can listen to the full interview below — or wherever you stream your podcasts — and subscribe for weekly episodes.