March 2022 New Members Reception

A recap of our March 2022 New Members Reception at Soho Works, 180 Strand, London.

Been There Done That by Susan Osman

Presenter Susan Osman speaks with inspiring women from around the world; women who are shaping our world. They’re not just striving, but thriving and are redefining what it means to be a woman in the workplace.

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Giovanna Forte, CEO at Forte Medical Limited

When did you set up your business and with what means?

Precision diagnostics for routine female health.

In 2002 my brother Dr Vincent Forte NHS GP for over 20 years invented a medical device to guarantee accurate diagnostic screening for women with Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) and prenatal screening. He asked me to help.

Whilst running my successful architectural and design communications agency, we joined forces to develop the design, patents and commercialisation plans and in 2006, we secured seed funding from the London Development Agency with matched Angel funding. I closed Forte Communication and Forte Medical was born.

"Peezy Midstream is the only urine collection method to meet Public Health England's UK Standards for Microbiology Investigation of Urine." NICE (National Institute for Clinical and Care Excellence)

Today, Peezy Midstream is a unique, patented device selling to customers in the USA where a Medicaid HCPCS (reimbursement) code offers physicians a rebate of between $48 and $63 to encourage them to adopt this essential practice that reduces retesting, repeat appointments and unnecessary antibiotic prescribing whilst delivering dignity and hygiene to women when providing an essential urine sample for diagnosis.

Extensive real-world evidence confirms the efficacy of our Peezy Midstream HealthTech, which will soon be developed into Peezy@home, the world's only patient-to-prescription diagnostic pathway, with right-first-time diagnosis and targeted treatment delivered to women who won't have to leave home to achieve good urological health.

Peezy First Stream is under development for STI diagnoses and identification of early-stage cancers such as prostate, bladder, ovarian and more. First-void urine has also been identified as an enabler for menopause management.

Forte Medical seeks investment for global growth and new product development with an enhanced leadership team to establish licensing opportunities around the world.

Did you always see yourself as an entrepreneur?

Of course! I come from a family of entrepreneurs who built hugely successful businesses in catering and hospitality starting with ice-cream parlours in Scotland. From the age of 10 I cleared tables and washed up at my father's restaurants in Brighton, and understood that self-employment would provide me with the most rewarding future.

From a very young age, I never saw myself as an employee, but as an entrepreneur with the ability and vision to build businesses in any area of the industry that I chose to address.

Everything is possible.

What have been your biggest challenges and how have you overcome them?

Funding is the most challenging aspect of business growth. With less than 2% of investment going to female founders, I find the funding given to male-led businesses that lack the vision and capacity to build a better world hugely frustrating.

I have single-handedly raised £4.3m for Forte Medical through friends, family and Angel investor contacts. Now we need Series A £2m to become a truly global business based on a licensing model with low overheads and significant profit.

When did you join BAWE and why?

I was invited to a BAWE Christmas lunch in 2019 and was impressed with the women I met there, the range of businesses they had founded, their successes and their willingness to nurture, encourage and help a newcomer in their midst.

The invitation to become joint Vice President within two years of my membership was a huge honour and privilege.

How has being a member of BAWE helped you?

Every BAWE meeting comes rich with offers of introductions, advice, encouragement and more. I have been connected to healthcare professionals, potential investors and media contacts by fellow BAWE members whose generosity of support is extraordinary. I love my BAWE colleagues and always try to pay forward any help that I can offer.

What advice would you give to a young entrepreneur?

Give yourself permission to succeed. You are the only person who can allow yourself to do what you really want. Doing what you most want will make you happy and when you are happy, almost everything else falls into place. Never let yourself be persuaded to do something that your gut tells you is not right.

Simply: if you don't impress yourself, why should anyone else be impressed? Be ambitious, be proud and believe that there is no such thing as a problem unless it really (really) cannot be solved. Ergo: there are very very few real problems in business or in life.

Click here to connect with Giovanna

Lori West, Founder and CEO at Business Brilliance Professional Development Ltd

When did you set up your business and with what means?

I set up Business Brilliance in 2018 by reclaiming PPE funds to the tune of £10,000 and with the generosity of my husband, my most loyal and only investor to date. I would not allow angels or VCs to get their grubby little mitts on Business Brilliance. The work is too important!

Did you always see yourself as an entrepreneur?

Not always, but it became apparent to me that entrepreneurship was my path in the 1990s, when I felt an affinity with the Silicon Valley start-ups I was launching into the UK and Europe. I like to be master of my own destiny, so not long after starting my psychotherapy qualification in 2000, I jumped out of the employed-status ship and into the self employment dinghy. I have not looked back since. I prefer smaller, nippier boats anyway. 😆

What have been your biggest challenges and how have you overcome them?

One of the biggest challenges I faced is knowing what to sell and how to sell it. As a therapist and a coach, there are lots of ways I can help people. The challenge is recognising what it is that the market wants and sometimes needs but doesn't know they want, and then positioning it in such a way that it occurs as an attractive-enough proposition that people want to buy what you're selling. It's a classic case of demand and supply. There are three key things I did that made a real difference:

  1. I listened intently
  2. I registered into a Harvard Business School Foundational MBA programme to better understand how to apply accounting and economic principles to the business
  3. I exercised patience with myself during the product development process

The final challenge I had to face was my own creative brain. I can see business opportunities EVERYWHERE, so I've had to learn how to focus on one thing and do it really well.

When did you join BAWE and why?

I joined BAWE in 2020 upon the recommendation of Giovanna. I love the community and the strength of the women in the community. We've got some real pioneers in the group! It's inspiring to hang out with a group of trailblazing women.

How has being a member of BAWE helped you?

As well as being a very supportive group, BAWE offers a safe space where I can test things and get honest, constructive feedback. I also love the collaborative element of the community. We help each other. I love that.

What advice would you give to a young entrepreneur?

  1. Remember that what you think other people want or need might not be what they want or need at all. Listen to feedback from lots of different communities and assimilate your offering so that it meets a real need AND want.
  2. Learn accounting. Your business strategy will show up in the numbers, especially projections.
  3. Keep it simple. Sometimes less is more.
  4. Remember that what appears to be cost-effective in the short-term can actually be a headache and more costly in the long-term. It may make sense to absorb costs if it means you're more satisfied with the end product and you work more efficiently as a result.
  5. Plan, plan, plan and then plan again. And remember that plans change. They are supposed to! Plan the work to work the plan. It organises the chaos, helps you stay focused and it offers you peace of mind when you structure your ideas.

Click here to connect with Lori

About BAWE

We are the only entrepreneurial network specifically for women with capital at risk. The membership comprises of both founders and directors with highly valuable connections who can offer advice and support across all business genres. BAWE (that's us) is a member of FCEM, the largest international women entrepreneurs network in the world.

BAWE bridges a vital gap. We are not transactional - as an organisation, we are not for profit - but we are not a charity either, so members benefit through meeting a diverse cross-section of women with whom they can network, support, grow and learn.

This is a peer group for women entrepreneurs who want to challenge and be challenged. Our aim is to support the empowerment of women entrepreneurs not only to be great but to be exceptional!

We are looking for forward-thinking women entrepreneurs who recognise the power of collaboration in business.

We are aiming to generate positive energy for the female leaders of today and be a powerhouse for those of tomorrow.

So if you are looking for a women’s business network that will challenge, support, celebrate and promote you, then the British Association of Women Entrepreneurs is the perfect place for you.