Ms. Esponnette said women at tech startups have written to her, thanking her for voicing their feelings.
Lola Priego, 30, founder of Base, which offers home blood and saliva tests processed in traditional labs, listens to Theranos comparison at least once a week, she said. References come directly or indirectly from potential partners, advisors, investors, clients and reporters, she said.
She says she understands the need for skepticism, as new healthcare companies should be taken seriously to prevent negligence. Usually, comparisons stop after people learn that Base works with Quest Diagnostics, a multinational company, to analyze its tests.
“But the additional bias and skepticism are challenges to overcome,” Ms. Priego said.
The biggest blow came from a scientific adviser that Priego says she tried to recruit in 2019. The adviser joined the meeting only to tell her that the introduction of technology into healthcare was causing harm. detrimental to the industry, like Theranos. It made Ms. Priego question whether she could hire the advisors of the caliber she expected.
“It was quite demoralizing,” she said. Since then, she has recruited six mentors.
In July, Verge Genomics had a three-year partnership with pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly to research drugs to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, Zhang said. The company also published a paper about its methods in a scientific journal last year and hired a chief scientific officer this year.
It’s a relief to have something to show for the doubters, Ms. Zhang said.
“The most fragile part of the company is the earliest stage, when you have to buy in people, vision and ideas,” she says. Thinking about Ms Holmes and Theranos, she added, “That’s where these kinds of links can be really harmful and potentially limiting.”