Owl Have You Know

The Value of a Kind and Collaborative Community feat. Joanna Nathan ‘19

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Episode notes

Joanna Nathan has been pretty busy since earning her MBA 2019. A biomedical engineer by trade, visionary, and serial entrepreneur, Joanna most recently became the CEO of Prana Thoracic, a Houston-based medical device startup dedicated to developing solutions for the detection and intervention of early-stage lung cancer. 

She was formerly the manager of new ventures at the Johnson & Johnson Center for Device Innovation at Texas Medical Center (CDI @ TMC). And before joining J&J, Joanna was a venture fellow at Mercury Fund, a $300M venture capital fund focused on early-stage enterprise software. 

Joanna joins with host Maya Pomroy (xx) to share her career journey, passion for healthcare, deep connection to Rice, and how the heartbreaking loss of her young son serves as inspiration to continue her work in finding groundbreaking medical technologies to help others.

Episode Quotes:

Building the right skill set through Rice

07:25: Innovation is very complex because the body is extremely complex. And biology is extremely complex. And taking the scientists and engineers and working with them on their incredible innovation, and then translating that into the business world, both in terms of telling the story of those technologies but also building the strategy around actually getting those technologies to the market and the patient. So that's why I wanted to find that skill set, and I thought Rice would be a great place to do that, particularly because of its entrepreneurial focus. And I came back specifically to build out all of those pieces. So storytelling, strategy, learning the investor mindset because I'd mostly been on the entrepreneur side of the table at that time.

On her transition from biomedical engineering to entrepreneurship

08:08 -  I realized that I had an interest in developing this very particular skill set, which is building and telling the stories of technologies that could save lives.

On finding friends & community at Rice

08:08 -  When I started at Rice Business, I'd already been in Houston for about a decade and I thought all of my friend slots were full, and I didn't need any new friends or community. But I ended up finding this incredible community of leaders that really served as a sounding board, and continue to serve as a sounding board for me, both for work and work issues and life.

Advice to new entrepreneurs:

15:04 - Of course there's a balance there, but you don't have to have everything neatly tied up in a little bow at every board meeting.

On preserving her son’s memory through her work:

22:17 - I think that whole experience, it's pushed me. Losing Lionel has pushed me to love harder, to lean into joy, to experience life to its fullest just like my kid, and to be a little wild like my kid as well. 

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