Innovator of the Week: Lidia Valdés, Co-Founder of Lodestone Biomedical

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May 26, 2016

Lidia Valdes
Lidia Valdés D'14 Th'15

Please provide your 30-second pitch about your company.

Lodestone Biomedical is a company committed to tech innovation for high social impact. We are working to change the way Iron Deficiency is diagnosed and managed globally.

Iron Deficiency is the most common condition in the world, but there is currently no single accurate and affordable test for iron status. We think that we can provide the singular solution to iron management with the Iron-Wand, which we are envisioning to be a low-cost point-of-care device that directly and magnetically measures iron stored in the bone marrow. This is effectively the clinical gold concept for iron status in a safe non-invasive handheld, positioned to flag and treat the earliest stages of iron deficiency.

Who or what was your best resource for starting your company?

Our early team comprised of co-founders, advisors, clinical collaborators, the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network, Dartmouth at large (Thayer, Geisel, DHMC, community members), and personal support systems, has been invaluable. The people who have engaged with this endeavor and invested in us with their time, energy, honesty, and expertise are by far the best and most important thing.

Lodestone Biomedical

What was your biggest obstacle for starting your company and how did you overcome it?

The biggest obstacle to the company so far has been in making our initial push to product. We have the standard start-up issues (no funding, ecosystem learning curve, and challenge of setting up sustainable living structures) coupled with what is an inherently longer-game, an externally regulated endeavor. We have to be extremely curated about where to spend valuable resources to maximize productivity and disciplined about lining up long-term resources, actively evaluating and adjusting our assumptions so that a few degrees doesn’t translate to being a mile off years down the line. The largest ongoing challenge is human related: when you tie the conversion of your team’s potential to one goal, it’s important to condition the brain to nix the assumption that any operating state should settle into ‘easy.’ Flipping the switch reframes start-up ebbs and flows to prevent fatigue, which is one of the few deadly things you can control.

What’s the best advice you have received?

This is both an amalgam and undercurrent to all important advice received and also fittingly the cornerstone to improv comedy (lots of parallels!): always look for the data-driven “yes, and…” Be ruthless about owning and converting flunks– there is probably no other case in which you will be given as much clarity as to say “these variables together were a 0.” There’s no such thing as stasis, and it’s dangerous to assume that evading the next decision keeps all options alive. Give due service. Pull the most powerful pieces, convert, expose, make a joke, and keep it going.

What about the NH lifestyle appeals to you?

There is everything necessary for sustainable success here from both a business and human perspective, which is important because they are one and the same. The environment is unsaturated; there’s a balance of test and accessibility. We look forward to continuing to grow and contributing to the entrepreneurial efforts here.

And the amount of nature is right for resetting personal equilibrium without pretenses. It’s hard to be cranky in the woods.

What does the future look like for your company?

Over the next few months, we’re working to move from a benchtop prototype to a clinical proof-of-concept device. Our priority is to de-risk our technology and business (structured market validation for revenue model and device design) to move us towards clinical studies.

We’re convinced that it doesn’t get better than a handheld for low-cost non-invasive direct iron status. We want to be a part of protecting and maximizing collective human potential, and are the beginning of the swing to actualize this solution—so please engage with us and stay tuned!

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