This is my IQ: Holly Rockweiler

The biggest surprise has been how overlooked the needs in women’s health have been.

Portland innovation is often driven by not what could be done, but what should be done. What issues are impacting populations? What could be done to make life better? How can technology and knowledge be used to improve the lives of others?

A prime example of this kind of innovation can be found in Holly Rockweiler’s company, Madorra, which develops a physical device that provides a means of relieving vaginal dryness in women who may not be candidates for the other — often hormone or drug based — solutions available.

With a depth of education and experience in biomedical engineering, Holly and her team hit upon the opportunity to pursue this innovative solution as part of a program at Stanford University.

“My cofounders and I created Madorra out of foundational work we did in the Stanford Biodesign program, whose innovation process allowed us to meet women struggling with this condition, and hear first hand how real the problem we are solving is,” said Holly. “Meeting those women and knowing we could build something much better is what inspired us to start the company, and what keeps us going every day.”

The opportunity and market potential for Madorra was obvious to Holly. Surprisingly so.

"What is so exciting is this is a very attractive business and there's a huge market. Pharma is basically printing cash in this area," Holly told the Portland Business Journal. "There's a real opportunity for ROI."

“The biggest surprise has been how overlooked the needs in women's health have been. We've been working in this space for five years now, and thankfully a lot more attention is being paid these days. When we started, few people were talking about it. Today, a lot more startups are tackling real problems that women have been forced to just live with for too long. We are excited to be a part of the movement!”

But as innovative as the product is, it is consistently Holly’s strength as an entrepreneur — and her ability to tell the Madorra story — that was proven to be the key differentiator for the company.

And those skills have consistently put Madorra on the map. With Holly winning all forms of awards and pitch competitions. From the local wins like OEN Angel Oregon and the Portland leg of the global 1776 Challenge Cup to international competitions like TechfestNW PitchfestNW and Founder.org.  

Yet even with Madorra’s compelling story and Holly’s exceptional ability to tell it — which has resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in services and cash prizes — she still finds impasses and challenges in building her company.

“No surprise, the most challenging part has been financing the company. We have been very fortunate to receive grant funding and investments, but we've worked very hard to get where we are today.”

Which is where resources like Portland IQ partner OTRADI Oregon Bioscience Incubator come into play, helping early stage biotechnology and digital healthcare companies gain access to the resources they need to build successful companies.

“I'm excited for Portland's potential to grow the life science sector! OTRADI is doing great work in this area, and we look forward to continuing to support the community.”

If you’re interested in learning more, feel free to connect with Holly on LinkedIn.  


Rick Turoczy