“I’m allergic to peanuts. When I was 7 years old, I attended a family function. Suddenly, my cousin gives me a cookie. I took a bite out of the cookie, and I felt a tingling inside my mouth. It usually goes away, but this time it didn’t. My whole body was starting to get itchy and red, and I felt like my tongue was getting too big for my mouth. It was then that I noticed I really couldn’t breathe as well as I should. My dad tosses me into the back seat of the car and off we go to the hospital. I survived but not everyone is so lucky.”This is just part of the story of Bill Reisacher, a doctor who specializes in allergies and the cofounder of Intrommune Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company that has developed a toothpaste that can neutralize peanut allergy. In the episode in which he presents his idea, Bill and his partner, Michael Nelson, outline the details of an immunotherapeutic technology that has the potential to improve the lives of people who suffer from this affliction.
Beyond the business side of things, there are people whose life stories drive innovation and can push forward a company’s growth. This personal aspect often emerges on Unicorn Hunters because, as well as being a platform for launching innovative ideas that can turn companies into unicorns, the show is also a public presentation of the people behind those ideas
Lauren Foundos is the CEO of Fortë, a tech platform for gyms that’s reinventing fitness for the age of streaming. In her presentation on Unicorn Hunters, Lauren, a former Wall Street bond broker and a passionate hockey player, explained that the main motivation for her enterprise is to encourage people to do exercise – something that she enjoys immensely herself, as she made clear when she closed her pitch with some pushups, earning smiles from the Circle of Money.
“I have lost my aunt, a friend and a cousin to breast cancer and I hope that no one here has had to bear that kind of pain. Breast cancer mortality is 40% higher in black women than in white women. In India, half of all breast cancer deaths are in women below the age of 50. And it’s not just a question of statistics; it’s personal”, opens Mihir Shah, CEO of UE LifeSciences, the company behind iBreastExam, a device that can identify various types of breast cancer in minutes, painlessly and without radiation.
As well as presenting numbers and several devices, Mihir explains that he was born in Bombay but emigrated to the US to study engineering. “I didn’t graduate in medicine like my dad wanted, but one day I thought I could design a machine that could save the lives of millions of people. My dad believed in innovation, and he believed in me. He was my first investor; he put in $75,000 in 2009. Although I lost him in 2018, I’m sure that his blessings are going to make sure this gets to where it needs to get”, he said on Unicorn Hunters.
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