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Breaking Barriers in MedTech: Joelle Tudor's CathConnect Adventure

In the latest episode of The Wild Feather Podcast, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Joelle Tudor, the founder of CathConnect, a promising medical startup that aims to revolutionize urinary catheters. Joelle shared her incredible journey from being a student engineer with no entrepreneurial background to becoming the founder of a startup with a mission to improve patient care. Her story is a testament to the power of innovation, perseverance, and the support of a dedicated team.



From School to Startup:

Joelle's journey into entrepreneurship began during her time as a student engineer. She didn't initially have any experience in entrepreneurship, but her senior capstone project in engineering paved the way for her entrepreneurial career. Collaborating with the medical center on her campus, Joelle and her team identified a problem related to urinary catheters and developed a 3D printed prototype to address it. As they worked on the project, they realized its commercial potential and started participating in business competitions, securing funds and grants to further develop their product.


The Birth of CathConnect:

What started as a school project soon evolved into CathConnect. A urologist presented a problem to Joelle's class – patients frequently removing their urinary catheters. Joelle and her team decided to tackle this issue head-on. They worked closely with the urologist and other clinicians to understand the problem's nuances, leading to the birth of CathConnect. The urologist even became their co-founder, providing invaluable insights into the medical field.


Support from University Resources:

Joelle emphasized the crucial role played by her university in her entrepreneurial journey. The Engineering Innovation Health Program helped her understand the med tech industry and connect with clinicians. The Business School collaborated with the Engineering School, offering mentorship and support during business competitions. Additionally, an accelerator program after graduation helped them address essential business questions.


Navigating the FDA:

One significant milestone in CathConnect's journey is securing FDA clearance. While the FDA process can seem daunting, Joelle remains undaunted. She explained that the relatively short FDA timeline for their non-invasive device should take about a year or less. They also have a predicate device for comparison, streamlining the process. Joelle's confidence in successfully navigating the FDA process is palpable.


The Road Ahead:

Looking forward, CathConnect plans to manufacture in the United States and initially target hospitals, where the largest patient population at risk resides. They aim to build trust through published data on safety and efficacy, presenting at conferences, and strategically approaching the unique purchasing pathways within different care settings.


Founders' Challenges and Imposter Syndrome:

Joelle candidly acknowledged the challenges she faced as a founder, including imposter syndrome. She highlighted the importance of surrounding oneself with a supportive team and mentors who provide guidance and reassurance. For CathConnect, a team of dedicated engineers, who are also co-founders, has been crucial in overcoming obstacles.


Founders' Mantras:

Joelle shared some of her personal mantras that keep her going. These include:


1. "You're on track": A reminder to stay positive and trust the journey.

2. "Be a sponge": Encouraging continuous learning and adaptability.

3. "You are not your company": Separating personal identity from the startup's success or challenges.

4. "Slow progress is still progress": Recognizing that building a successful startup takes time and patience.


Balancing Work and Life:

Finding the right balance between work and personal life can be challenging for founders. Joelle stressed the importance of setting boundaries, scheduling breaks, and engaging in mentally relaxing activities outside of work. She highlighted the significance of connecting with fellow founders for support, understanding, and friendship.


Joelle Tudor's journey from a student engineer to the founder of CathConnect is a remarkable tale of determination, innovation, and resilience. Her story inspires us to embrace challenges, seek mentorship, and persist in our entrepreneurial endeavors. As CathConnect continues its mission to enhance patient care, we can expect to hear more about Joelle's incredible journey in the world of medical startups.


Listen to more inspiring stories of women changing the world on The Wild Feather.


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