Sammie Hasen of Medsur: “Plan for now”

I am nowhere close to being done! I know this has already been discussed, but my vision is to create a suite of innovative products for women. As soon as I come to a steady place with BCaseTM, I will be moving forward with my next idea to improve women’s lives. My ultimate goal is […]

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I am nowhere close to being done! I know this has already been discussed, but my vision is to create a suite of innovative products for women. As soon as I come to a steady place with BCaseTM, I will be moving forward with my next idea to improve women’s lives. My ultimate goal is to create a VC firm that focuses on women-led startups in the femtech, reproductive health, and sexual wellness industries.

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sammie Hasen.

Sammie is a fourth-year biomedical engineering student at the Georgia Institute of Technology with a passion for feminine health and products. More importantly, she is a woman who is tired of products made specifically for women not meeting her needs. Sammie is the founder of medsur Inc.TM, a company focused on innovating products for women that increase the functionality and usability of products on the market today.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I have always found myself inching towards the entrepreneur path, even from a young age. As I started to get older, I realized I had an affinity for the medical field, more specifically innovating feminine products such as tampons, applicators, and pads. At Georgia Tech, I was given the opportunity to explore this passion in a program called Idea2Prototype. In that program, I was able to work towards a solution to decreasing the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome in tampon use. From my work there, I started to see a shift in my passion from the medical field to consumer products, but it was still under the umbrella of products for women. Finding this passion for women’s consumer products led me down the path of creating medsur Inc.

At medsur, the focus is innovating products for women that increase the functionality and usability of products on the market today. This means that I have free reign to innovate a multitude of products ranging from feminine products like tampons to birth control cases to tampon disposal bins. My passion lies in innovation, so I like to keep an open line of communication between myself and the consumers to hear what they need to be innovated.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Ironically, most products used solely by women are designed by men. I started a deep dive into which products were specifically designed by men, and I found out that tampons, birth control pills, IUDs, female condoms, among many others hit that mark. The undeniable design flaws of most of those products immediately made sense to me. How could someone who will never use the product knowledge to make the product to the best of its ability? The answer is they can’t. I created medsur Inc. to disrupt this trend in the feminine product space. No longer will products made solely for women be designed by men. I want to ensure that the designer is also the user because then we will understand the pain points firsthand.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

A pretty funny mistake I made was during my first BCaseTM photoshoot. My photographer and I went to the Shops at Buckhead near Atlanta, Georgia. We starting taking photos, and then a security guard approached us asking for our commercial photography permit. We both were confused and embarrassed because we didn’t think you needed a permit to photograph in a public place. I haven’t really had too many funny mistakes in my journey, so I think this one is the best example.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

Seth Radman, Fallon Ukpe, and many others have helped me along the journey to stay goal-oriented and hit the important benchmarks.

Seth has been a mentor since day one because he was a coach for the first incubator I participated in at Georgia Tech. Since meeting him, I have relied on him for advice on customer discovery and product development. Seth’s energetic attitude and passion for innovation have shown me what it takes to be an entrepreneur and how to get your idea to a product.

Fallon became a mentor in the early stages of BCaseTM development, and she has been integral to my success ever since. Although her formal experience isn’t in the consumer products space, she has done everything she can to ensure I have access to necessary resources in order to continue product development. Fallon has shown me how your career path isn’t linear, and, as long as you work hard, you will end up where you need to be. Fallon is a crucial advisor for me because she is a strong, successful woman entrepreneur, and I very much look up to her.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

This is a very interesting question. The way I distinguish disrupting an industry from being good vs. bad is by looking at the backbone and purpose of the industry. Honestly, innovation is rarely a bad thing, so there isn’t any industry that couldn’t use some kind of positive disruption. I am a firm believer in equality for all, so in my mind, disrupting the workforce industry by harping on gender equity is a positive disruption. A negative disruption would be if the environmentally-conscious industry shifted towards less moral practices to save costs.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

  1. Celebrate the small wins. I tend to get ahead of myself and daydream about signing a life-changing deal that will allow me to move to the next phase of my vision. When I daydream like this, the small victories seem insignificant to me. Let’s say you are in discussions with a company that is interested in acquiring you. If you tick all the boxes on your third call, and it is moving to a fourth, then that is surely a victory. Sure, it isn’t a signed deal, but it also isn’t a no. For me, I tend to view moving forward as disappointing because I was hoping to see a deal right then and there. It is so important to celebrate the small wins because if it is still moving in the right direction then it’s worthy of celebration!
  2. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. This piece of advice has gotten me through the chaotic journey of pre-orders and crowdfunding. Of course, you want to sell out overnight, but that isn’t very realistic in most cases. When I was doing my Kickstarter campaign, I was lucky enough to have it fully funded within 24 hours, but that didn’t mean I was done. The campaign traction started to hit a lull, and I was feeling discouraged. I reminded myself that this journey is a marathon, and I need to continue to work hard to surpass my goal. The most important thing to remember is that things don’t typically happen overnight, so don’t plan on it too and don’t feel discouraged when it doesn’t.
  3. Plan for now. I recently heard this piece of advice from someone I view as a mentor. I was creating an itinerary for the remainder of the year when in reality, I should only be focusing until my next big milestone. My product gets to me in June, so it is no secret that June will be a pivotal month. My mentor told me the importance of not planning too far ahead because life is always changing. She said, “what good is a plan for December, if the company needs to pivot completely in June?”. This piece of advice kept me grounded and opened my eyes to the fact that many things are out of my control. The best thing I can do is plan for now and keep moving forward until I start to gain steady traction.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

I am nowhere close to being done! I know this has already been discussed, but my vision is to create a suite of innovative products for women. As soon as I come to a steady place with BCaseTM, I will be moving forward with my next idea to improve women’s lives. My ultimate goal is to create a VC firm that focuses on women-led startups in the femtech, reproductive health, and sexual wellness industries.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

I believe that would have to be imposter syndrome, and that is not to say it is never present in men, but typically it is more of a challenge for women. It is hard for anyone to go against the grain because you have to remain confident in yourself when convincing others to believe in you.

Now, it becomes 10x harder when you are having to convince a room full of men why women need something. Women have always been hindered in the workplace, and that trend inherently makes women question their actions more than men. I have been in plenty of situations where I feel that because of my gender and age, I am being viewed as less than or my opinions don’t hold enough weight. This is my inner-saboteur making me questions my actions, so I try to remind myself that I am worthy and able to run a company. Remind yourself why you are the person most fit to run your company, and don’t let your inner-saboteur convince you otherwise.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

I recommend How I Built This by Guy Raz to every young entrepreneur. It is so inspirational to listen to successful entrepreneurs talking about their journey. They discuss all of the hardships, which makes you realize that no one reaches success without a few bumps along the way. The podcast also shows you that even the most successful entrepreneurs had no idea what they were doing at times. In my opinion, this podcast helped me tame my imposter syndrome because it shows even your heroes felt the way you do at some point in their journey. This podcast reminds me to keep pushing and believe in myself even if no one else does.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I want to increase access to period products and destigmatize menstruation. These two issues are significantly impacting uterus owner’s ability to be on the same playing field as their counterparts. In some countries, uterus owners are forced to drop out of school due to a lack of period products and the fact that menstruation is still heavily stigmatized. My personal passion is to end both of these problems, so uterus owners are no longer affected by these inequalities.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Circling back to my three best pieces of advice: it’s a marathon, not a sprint. This life lesson quote has helped me through so many different things. I am someone who moves a mile a minute, so when things take time, it makes me feel like I am not doing enough. When I first started to focus on this life lesson, I began to cut myself some slack and realize that some things just take time, and it is a matter of remaining passionate and resilient. I no longer get disappointed when BCaseTM doesn’t go viral overnight because I recognize the rarity of that. I am passionate about what I do, I believe in myself, and that is enough to fuel this marathon.

How can our readers follow you online?

Thank you so much for reading about how I am disrupting the feminine product industry. BCaseTM launches in June, so follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to stay up-to-date!

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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