Founder Spotlight: Adrianna Cantu
Meet Adrianna Cantu, our first DivInc alumnus to be featured in our Founder Spotlight series. Adrianna is the co-founder and CEO of Revealix, a digital health company developing imaging software to revolutionize how diabetic limb complications are monitored and prevented. She is an experienced industry healthcare executive, board certified in wound care. Through Revealix, Adrianna aims to solve the inherent problem of subjectivity and inefficiencies in routine assessment of skin health – an issue she recognized was a barrier to operationalizing and scaling clinical best practices in healthcare. This problem of subjectivity is particularly problematic in the care of non-Caucasian patient populations where subtle clinical cues may easily be missed. Adrianna’s passion for her industry fuels Revealix’s mission of Simply Saving Limbs.
Below, she’s been kind enough to answer a few questions about her path to becoming an entrepreneur and CEO.
Tell us about your company.
Adrianna Cantu: Revealix is developing Diabetic Limb Surveillance – an imaging software application for doctors to automatically capture insights on diabetic limb health early and simply, using their smartphone.
What was your journey to becoming an entrepreneur?
AC: Prior to Revealix, I was an executive at a medical startup where over my 10-year tenure and alongside some of my best friends, I gained invaluable operations and leadership experience. Stepping away from this role meant stepping away from a professional position and industry sector I could comfortably navigate. I remember the internal struggle of feeling like it was “time,” but I was nervous about heading into the unknown. Ultimately, my decision to leave required a bit of trust that I would find my way again, anew.
Did I know that I would be starting a company? No. What I did know was that I was restless to continue driving efficiencies within my industry. A problem I understood very well is that routine skin health and wound assessments are inherently manual and subjective. As a wound specialist and from my executive experience, I knew these were major barriers to operationalizing and scaling clinical best practices in prevention and monitoring of many conditions, including diabetic limb complications.
In my farewell email I signed off with a quote (reference unknown), “I may not know where I’m going, but I know that I’m on my way.” I knew enough about myself to understand that, although I would miss my team, I would not grow in the ways I wanted to if I stayed.
If you find yourself with a realization that there is a problem that must be solved and that your unique experiences, mental readiness and aptitude are up for the challenge, take a deep inventory of what it will take, not just to start, but to see your plans through. As a Founder, you will discover a part of you that was likely always there but never given the chance to flourish. It’s all about the journey. What you’ll learn about yourself is priceless. My other favorite quote, “I never lose. I either win or I learn.” - Nelson Mandela. (What entrepreneur doesn’t have a bag full of inspirational quotes?)
What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve faced as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
AC: As a first-time entrepreneur, some of the biggest obstacles were access to the people, resources and opportunities that I would need to guide our startup venture forward. When my co-founder and I started Revealix, I initially spent time in Silicon Valley gathering up as much first-hand experience on the “art” of startup as I could and conducting market research on the state of innovation in digital health. As I met other CEOs, it was evident that the entrepreneurial DNA ran deep in these circles. It’s as if everyone I met had a friend, relative or neighbor with a startup story. My story was so different. They were living the startup life. I was reading the startup books!
Coming back to Austin, I knew it would take deliberate efforts on my part to build the caliber of network and learning that I would need to succeed. My strategy (and I recommend it!) is to run a quick query of all the relevant meet-ups, events, pitch competitions and accelerator programs in your city. Then show up and get to it! Build your brand, hone your pitch, validate your business model, find your teammates, mentors, advisors and new startup friends. Just show up! If you do, I promise you will meet the people who, over time, will help you get from where you are to where you want to be.
In fact, my interest in DivInc stemmed from the relationship I had built early on with one of its founders, Preston James. Preston had long established a reputation as a generous mentor with a passion for increasing diversity in the Austin startup ecosystem. This authenticity of mission permeates the work put forward by every member and mentor of DivInc’s accelerator program. As an alumni company from cohort #1, I can attest to the impact this program has had on my growth as a Founder and the traction we continue to build at Revealix. To all the mentors/advisors out there who give your time to provide office hours, pitch practice sessions, workshops, seminars, presentations and networking events, please know that you have made a difference to my role as a Founder. All I and others like me ever need is access. Our grit, hustle and perseverance will take care of the rest!
I am incredibly grateful to the Austin startup community and its leaders. They have built an ecosystem that allows a first-time entrepreneur like me to accumulate the relationships, learning and experiences that have helped me get from milestone to milestone.
It’s go time for Revealix. Our fundraising kickoff will start soon, and we’re pumped. We have the people, process and roadmaps in place to get our product in the market by Nov ‘19. If you’d like to keep up with our #SimplySavingLimbs story, please visit us at www.revealix.com or follow us on Twitter @Revealix.