My name is Suzanne Moloney and I am the founder and CEO of HidraMed Solutions. We make specialized wound dressings for people living with a chronic skin disease called hidradenitis suppurativa, or HS for short. HS causes wounds to form in delicate areas of the body such as the armpit and the groin, amongst others. These wounds are very painful and continuously drain exudate, pus and blood. They are very difficult to manage due to the locations of the wounds. Unfortunately for people with HS, it is often misdiagnosed or overlooked and progresses to a very severe, disfiguring, and debilitating condition.
Why I started the business
I have been living with this disease since I was a young teenager and I always struggled to manage my wounds. In 2013 I began to develop my idea into a product. It took me a long time to reach the point where I had a prototype that I could then show to investors and start developing this idea into a real-life business.
In 2018, I was accepted onto an accelerator program at the National University of Ireland in Galway called BioExel, where I was trained in the development and commercialization of a medical device. This training set me on the right path and I haven’t looked back since.
The story so far
In 2019 after years of development and design and regulatory compliance, plus many other parts of the puzzle, I was able to launch my first product HidraWear.
HidraWear is a new and revolutionary way of managing HS wounds. I created it first to meet my needs as a patient but when I spoke to other people with HS, I realized that the problem was much bigger than I could have imagined. HS has a profound impact on a person’s quality of life. It affects every part of the patient’s day. It causes chronic pain, sleep problems, poor body image, and low self-esteem. People with HS are more at risk of developing anxiety, depression, becoming isolated, and even suicide.
HidraWear has been proven to improve quality of life, body image, and self-esteem. It is also been shown to reduce dressing-related pain and to provide security and comfort to people with HS.
From baking to MedTech
Before I started this company, I owned a bakery. I had trained as a chef originally and had a preference for pastry and desserts. So in 2012, I opened my own small bakery making cakes, sweets, and desserts for corporate and private events. I grew this business to a staff of four but when I was accepted onto the BioExel program, I hung up my apron for good.
Patient-founded and patient-led
I would describe myself as very ambitious and passionate about my work. I am extremely passionate about helping people with HS to improve their lives because I know first-hand how difficult it is to live with this disease.
HidraMed puts the patient at the center of everything we do. Our core values on goals revolve around patient wellbeing and improving the quality of life of people with HS. I’m in such a great position to be able to reinforce our values at the core of the company and always put patients first. We are a patient-founded and patient-led company.
The highest point for me so far has been launching our first product and receiving feedback from people in the real world using my invention, and hearing about the benefits it has had to their daily life. Our company is growing and every single piece of feedback I receive spurs me on and motivates me during the hard days.
There have been lots of tough days and challenges to overcome. I’m sure we will have many facing us again in 2021. One of the toughest challenges to date has been launching our product in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. We had big plans for 2020 with traveling and promoting the product at different conferences and events in the UK, Europe, and North America, but we quickly realized that we would have to change our strategy and adapt to working remotely and conducting most of our business online. We are a small team, there are four of us working full time in the company. And I am so proud of the team for achieving so much in 2020 despite the very difficult circumstances we found ourselves in.
In 2019, myself and my colleague Conan closed a seed round of just over 1 million Euro. The fundraising process itself was quite challenging but also very enjoyable as we got to present and show our product off to experts in MedTech, and also to raise awareness of the disease. The round was made up of private and institutional investors, many of which provide guidance and input into the direction the company is taking. The investors believe in our vision and have been very supportive throughout 2020.
We currently sell our product directly to the customer online through our website www.hidrawear.com . But in 2021 we will focus on making it available through various health systems and insurers in the UK, Europe, and the USA.
I’m so excited for the year ahead, and to watch HidraWear continue to improve people’s lives. On top of that, we work tirelessly to raise awareness of the disease and to help people recognize the signs, in order to receive an earlier diagnosis. This can potentially prevent them from becoming severely affected by the HS.
Who has inspired me?
I’m very inspired by Anita Roddick. My colleague gave me a gift of one of her books called Business as Unusual, and I was so moved by her courage and the resilience she developed in order to achieve her goals in business and in her Charity work and philanthropy. She truly was a remarkable woman and an inspiration.
What I’ve learned
My best piece of advice to anyone starting out in business is to never forget your vision, your goals, and why you are doing what you do. You can achieve anything once you know the direction you are going in. Believe in yourself. Take a chance on yourself. And don’t stop even when it gets really tough, a new day will dawn, you will find a solution to your problems and you will overcome the challenges that are facing you.
I was a Baker in 2018 and now I run a medical device company selling into The UK, Europe, and the USA. I’ve also contributed to two scientific papers that will be published in 2021. I have secured seed investment, grown my team to 4 full-time employees, and I expect the company to expand further in the coming years.
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