Women in Age-Tech Panel

Investing in Strategy and Success

Thursday November 18, 2:00PM EST

Women remain the majority of caregivers in 2021 and the difference between male and female caregivers providing more hours of unpaid care is much greater. Hear from healthcare investors working with age-tech entrepreneurs to bridge the care and equity gap in senior care.


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Rachel Braun Scherl, CEO, SPARK Solutions for Growth (Moderator)

Rachel Braun Scherl is a champion for women’s health and a pioneer in the space, where she has passionately focused on driving the conversation in and the growth of women’s sexual and reproductive health companies. As a business builder and Vagipreneur®, she works with companies in the space from menstruation through menopause.

 As a long-time contributor to this space, Rachel partners with companies in menopause, fertility, birth control, pregnancy and menstruation, among others, to drive growth. She is a speaker, board member, advisor, mentor and author. Rachel’s career-long findings, learnings and recommendations are at the heart of her best-selling book: Orgasmic Leadership: Profiting from the Coming Surge in Women’s Health and Wellness . Orgasmic Leadership provides unique perspectives on leadership and business building, and the money that can be made by capitalizing on market opportunities.

 While President and co-founder of Semprae Laboratories, Rachel and her team built a company that developed and marketed sexual health and wellness products for women – creating a new category and transforming women’s health. Semprae attracted significant media attention and industry interest and was sold to a specialty pharmaceutical company in 2013.

 As an accomplished speaker, Rachel is featured at leadership and entrepreneurship events at colleges, universities, corporations and conferences, including CES, SXSW, Johnson & Johnson, AbbVie, Pennsylvania Conference for Women, Stanford University Graduate School of Business, Duke University, Yale University, among others. Rachel has appeared on ABC News, CBS News and MSNBC, and has been interviewed for major platforms including The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Forbes, and CNN. Rachel has contributed over 4 dozen articles to The Huffington Post, and contributed to Inc. In March 2020, Rachel launched a zoom series, “Quotes from Quarantine”, interviewing over 100 leaders in femtech, sextech and women’s health to share strategies to thrive personally and professionally during COVID. The results are currently being prepared by a leading business school for publication. In May of 2021, Rachel and her OB/GYN co-host, Dr. Alyssa Dweck, launched, Business of the V, which focuses on the intersection of patients’ concerns, unmet needs, unanswered questions and the businesses being created to meet those needs.
 After graduating Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Duke, Rachel earned an MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business, where she has stayed actively involved. She served on the Duke New York Women’s Executive Board for a decade and currently serves on the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation for Fuqua School of Business at Duke University as well as the Stanford Women on Boards initiative.

 Rachel has received numerous business awards. In addition, Rachel serves as a Board member and Advisory Board member for female health companies and provides ongoing mentorship to many entrepreneurs in the sexual and reproductive health space.

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Taja Lester, Managing Partner, Health Equity Capital

Taja is Founder and Managing Partner of Health Equity Capital, a venture capital firm with a mission to help underserved patients benefit from cutting edge advances in science and technology. Taja founded Health Equity Capital and its affiliate, Health Equity Capital Impact, while serving on the Board of Directors at Women’s Cancer Research Center (WCRC), a non-profit organization which provides direct assistance to marginalized and low-income cancer patients; her experience overseeing health disparities related strategy and policy directly informed the mission of both organizations. Prior to founding Health Equity Capital (Impact), Taja spearheaded commercial planning efforts in women’s oncology for Avastin®, one of Roche Genentech’s largest brands. Before joining Genentech, Taja was a strategy consultant at PwC, where she advised c-level clients at leading healthcare and investment organizations. Before PwC, she took a lead role at Bay Bio (now California Life Science Association) where she sourced licensing opportunities for global pharmaceutical companies, across multiple markets and indications. Taja launched her venture capital career at Bay City Capital, a life science venture capital firm with over 1.5B AUM (USD). Taja was an early stage technology employee at CNET Networks (later acquired by CBS). Her tenure set the stage for a decade+ long career leading teams on the development and deployment of innovative digital health technologies at high-growth, emerging companies. Taja holds a BA from the University of California, Berkeley and an MBA from the Lorry I. Lokey School of Business (Mills College), where she cultivated expertise in women’s entrepreneurship, as a Goldman Sachs Scholar.

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Petra Meyer, Managing Director – HealthCare Sector Group Lead, Golden Seeds

I joined Golden Seeds, a nationwide angel network and venture fund,  that invests in early-stage women-led companies in 2019 and serve as Managing Director and Co- Chair of the healthcare sector committee. Founded in 2005, Golden Seeds has invested over $157 million in 219 women-led companies in technology, health care, consumer products and media.

In my ‘day job’ I am the principal of Inspired Solutions, a boutique consultancy specializing in marketing, go to market and growth strategy for startups based in New York City.

Prior to founding my own business, I held a number of senior executive positions in major multinational corporations in Big Pharma (Merck/Boots Healthcare International), Pharmacy Retail and services (Walgreens Boots Alliance) and Consumer Products (Unilever). I worked internationally across Europe, North & South America and the major Asian markets China and India.

My functional experience spans strategy, marketing, sales, innovation and general management.

I have a Master in International Business from Bayreuth University. I speak and work in English, French and German.

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Brenda Irwin, Managing Partner & Co-Founder, Relentless Venture Fund

Brenda is a former life science venture capitalist for Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC). While at BDC she had personal responsibility for the management of a $100M+ healthcare portfolio including private to publicly listed organizations. Prior to launching the Relentless Venture Fund in 2018, Brenda co-founded the angel investment group Relentless Pursuit Partners with Olympian, Simon Whitfield in 2015. Brenda specializes in both assessing and top grading the investment potential of early-stage companies. She has been a Board Director for 15 private and public for-profit life sciences and biotechnology corporations. Market sectors represented within her portfolio ranged from therapeutics, biotech, medtech, health technology & wellness organizations. Brenda is committed to inspiring young women to pursue careers in science and technology. Brenda is proud to have spent nearly a decade on the non-profit Board of Directors for Take A Hike – Youth at Risk Foundation, an organization enabling at-risk youth to positively change their lives. She was also a Director on the Providence Health Care Board of Directors for six years where she also chaired their Innovation Committee.