Invention Overcomes Ick Factor

Today's NYTimes has an interesting story about the development of a new way to obtain blood from women for diagnostic tests:

In 2014, an engineer at Harvard named Ridhi Tariyal hit on a far simpler workaround. “I was trying to develop a way for women to monitor their own fertility at home,” she told me, and “those kinds of diagnostic tests require a lot of blood. So I was thinking about women and blood. When you put those words together, it becomes obvious. We have an opportunity every single month to collect blood from women, without needles. (read the full story here:

The invention is a method for obtaining blood samples from tampons. The story is interesting on two levels. First, the inventors had to overcome the ick factor. Potential investors were simply grossed out by the basic premise. So long as the proposed invention was only offering another way to collect samples for basic blood tests they ran into roadblock after roadblock. But then the inventors realized their invention could be used in obtaining cells to test for endometriosis. Their test would offer an alternative to laparoscopic surgery. Once they began presenting their invention as a solution to a bigger problem investors were able to put aside the ick factor and began to write checks.

The second thing that's interesting in this story is the significance of perspective and how important it is to be close to the problem you're trying to solve. The world of inventing and the companion world of investing have long been dominated by men, so the products that everyone buys and use have generally been created from a male perspective. Since half the planet is female there is a massive opportunity for women to profit from their different perspective.

Mike Marks

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