Sara Naseri, CEO & Co-Founder, Qvin | MAKERS Profile
SARA NASERI: There's so much that we can improve on, especially when it comes to women's health because it has been very overlooked, right? And the rest will say, well, it's only women. And I'm like, it's more than half of the world. That's a big market.
I grew up in Denmark in a town called Aarhus. My parents moved from Iran to Denmark at a time and place where that was really hard. By moving and starting their lives all over and learning a new language, learning a new culture, seeing them be some of the happiest people that I know, that is sort of setting the stage that, you know, starting things from scratch-- you can do it.
I very much loved school. And I was eager to take what I had learned in books and apply it to the real world. We had a neighbor that meant a lot to us that-- they passed away from skin cancer. When that happened, I really wanted to find a way to prevent that.
I was 17 or so. And I saw this picture of a molecule. And I thought it was the most amazing molecule I've ever seen. It was so beautiful. And I picked up the phone to call the guy who got the Nobel Prize for discovering the molecule. And so that led me to inventing this new chemical compound that took me on this journey, really.
I learned a lot from starting that company. The first big meeting we had, we were meeting this executive in the lobby. And he sort of came. And he just walked right past me. And even when we sat down, it was like-- he would ask a question. But he would never look at me. He would look at the other person in the room, who happened to be a man. And it would be this weird conversation of I'm answering him, but he doesn't acknowledge me. And that feeling of sort of just being completely invisible in the room was new to me.
I knew that a lot of medical decision-making is based on blood testing. And then one day, it just sort of hit me that women bleed every month. And why has nobody thought about that from a medical point of view in terms of how it could be useful for women?
I have this picture of me on a train. I packed all my bags. And I'm leaving to fly to the US and build a period company. And I had no idea what that would lead me. This one lab made me do quite a lot of work to prove that menstrual blood is blood. And what we found is that it's blood, right? And at the end of the day, they were like, we don't want to touch this, basically saying, you know, this is gross and I don't want to dirty up my machines.
And that day, I locked myself in my room. And I didn't come out for 24 hours. I was very sad because I had traveled the world to this innovative place to look at this bodily fluid because it's not gross, right? And it was disappointing. But then the next day, we just, you know, kept going.
We are a women's health company. And we have built a diagnostic menstrual pad that collects a small volume of menstrual blood and allows women to get health testing using a very non-invasive access to blood. We can monitor your fertility hormones, your thyroid health, your average blood sugar. We can screen for STDs, cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis.
I hope that, ultimately, we'll be able to get to a place where we can keep women healthy, where menstrual blood is an opportunity to get screening, to have regular insights about our bodies so that we can enable early detection and be truly preventative. I hope to change the conversation about menstrual blood from it being a stigma, a taboo, and something shameful to being this fantastic opportunity that we have as women. And then I hope to, you know, make sure that women are equally represented in science, in health care. I want to empower women, period.