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Member Spotlight

March 25, 2021

NextGen Jane CEO & Co-founder, Ridhi Tariyal

NextGen Jane is using smart tampons to empower women with insight into their reproductive health.

Ridhi Tariyal, CEO & Co-founder NextGen Jane

NextGen Jane is helping women be more proactive with their health by discovering early markers for reproductive disorders and making diagnosis more accessible. Their novel approach is designed around tampon-based sampling methods to take advantage of the natural biopsy that is menstruation.

We caught up with NextGen Jane’s CEO and co-founder Ridhi Tariyal for a very special member spotlight during Women’s History Month to get the latest on where the company is headed while they undergo beta testing and clinical studies to collect meaningful data and bring the technology to the masses.

For those unfamiliar with NextGen Jane, can you explain the company’s mission?

Our thesis on female reproductive health has always been based on a few core tenets:

Healthcare should be accessible. Whether you live in rural Alabama and have to drive over an hour to Tuscaloosa, which has one of the 16 hospitals still offering obstetrics care in the state, or if you live on the South Side of Chicago, where the number of hospitals offering maternity service in 2020 plummeted from seven to three, further exacerbating the maternal mortality crisis in the Black community. We believe that barriers to healthcare should not exist.

Healthcare should also be precise. We should have a nuanced, specific understanding of how things work and how things break in female bodies. It’s not good enough to assume that Ambien will work in the same way, at the same doses as it does on male physiology—it doesn’t. It’s unacceptable to assume that the classic presentation of heart attacks we’ve grown up seeing dramatized in cinema, based on how male bodies manifest the signs of a myocardial infarction, is how your Mom will experience a cardiac event—it’s not.

And finally, good treatment options are great, but early detection technologies are even better. And early detection relies on continual, easy, safe sampling. A trend is a more powerful tool in actualizing the hope of preventative care than a single observation, but we don’t have the kind of elegant solutions that make multiple observations throughout a person’s life convenient.

What types of women’s health issues are you trying to solve with NextGen Jane?

We are building a platform technology that can offer utility throughout a person’s lifetime, from menarche (the first occurrence of menstruation) to post-menopause. We start out by targeting conditions which impact the uterine lining and often manifest in changes during menstruation. This can range from heavy menstrual bleeding to endometriosis to uterine fibroids. We evolve with our user base to provide insight into a health of pregnancy, if that becomes relevant to their life. We hope to build out our product offerings to include indications of the transition to menopause and the serious conditions, such as cancer, which people are especially vulnerable to in their post-reproductive years.

The company was originally based in Boston, what prompted you to make the move to the Bay Area?

The personal answer is that after seven winters in Boston, and an especially bad one in 2015, my co-founder and I decided a change of scenery would be good for us. The professional answer is that Boston had a large appetite for investing in therapeutics, but at the time, we were getting less traction in generating interest in a diagnostic startup, so we decided a change of scenery might also be good for the prospects of the company.

How did you network and find the connections you needed to succeed?

I sought out mentors who found the Jane vision compelling and had experience in life science entrepreneurship with a passion for bringing up the next generation of entrepreneurs. These individuals were critical in providing advice, making introductions, acting as a sounding board and much more to me in my startup journey.

Finding the right mentors is like any other matching process. You take a lot of meetings, mostly these expand your broader network but don’t provide as much depth. Over time, you develop relationships that allow you to have a continuous dialogue with a handful of people that is deeply enriching.

“Every time we speak to different patient communities, it becomes clear how important better diagnostics are to any condition you can imagine.”

What have been your biggest hurdles from the start of the company to now?

The biggest hurdles have been trying to decide which big problem in female reproductive health to tackle first, not being able to pick one and then allocating enough funding to make meaningful progress on multiple fronts. Every time we speak to different patient communities, it becomes clear how important better diagnostics are to any condition you can imagine. Every delay in disease detection, every misdiagnosis—the patients bear the ultimate cost of that.

What stages are you in with the beta testing that began last fall and what’s next?

Our focus right now is recruiting as many participants in our clinical studies from as diverse backgrounds as possible. Beta testers can be part of one or more ongoing studies at Jane. The on-boarding process or the first step in entering the Jane universe is through survey.nextgenjane.com. This gives us a better idea of the participant and allows us to engage the user in different aspects of the product platform.

Over the next 12 to 18 months, we are focusing on getting as many people onboarded as possible and generating data on how well the Jane tampon system works.

As the CEO, what is your vision for NextGen Jane?

At Jane, we believe that this vision of female reproductive care—accessible, precise and oriented toward early detection—is attainable through better molecular characterization of cells naturally shed from the reproductive tract.

We are building products that both enable the safe and efficient acquisition of these cells in a minimally burdensome way and creating data sets of genomic information on these samples to increase the resolution of classifying, diagnosing and treating reproductive conditions.

What advice can you offer other female CEOs that are just starting down the entrepreneurial path?

Entrepreneurship can be very lonely. Develop peer groups of other female CEOs going through the same crucible you are—fundraising, research and development, company building, product development, market creation, whatever the case may be. Forming those connections and sharing your insight as well as hearing from others will make the process more enjoyable.

 

As you gear up for a Series B round, what lessons did you learn from your Series A round that you’ll take with you as you continue the fundraising journey?

Try to learn from “No’s” but don’t dwell on them. Develop a more refined nose for a “Yes” and focus on those.

What are the most important aspects to a successful leader?

The traits I have observed in mentors whose leadership style I admire are empathy, a superior ability to listen, being able to discriminate between important issues and ones that present as urgent and a willingness to have difficult conversations.