Combining Blockchain and Digital Health
RADHIKA IYENGAR-EMENS : FOUNDING PARTNER AT STARCHAIN VENTURES
SPONSORED BY SERENDIPITY
I am originally from India but I grew up in Tangier, Morocco. I was an overachiever from a young age and was selected to college at the age of 14. I was a sophomore when the Director of Admissions from Bryn Mawr College came to our high school and interviewed me. I had a two-hour discussion with her and I fell in love with the vision of Bryn Mawr and how they recognize women and their achievements. In high school, I was in an environment where I didn’t fit in because I was treated the ‘nerd’ and the opportunity of being surrounded by people who had insatiable intellectual curiosity meant that I wasn’t going to be an outcast. I started at Bryn Mawr on a full ride scholorship at the age of 16 (I was the youngest freshman in the history of their college at that time) and had my eyes on a career in medicine. I completed 3 years of pre-med and realized that the hospital ambiance was not something that was meant for me. After undergrad, I got my MBA and ended up working in semiconductors which was how I entered into the world of technology.
When I started my career in tech, it was very difficult for someone with a non-technical degree and an MBA to be working in the field. My experience of the double standards in tech started early on. People did not think that I could be part of a product development process because I didn’t have an engineering background, but it was okay for men that were similar to me to make that jump. When I was leaving for college, my father had told me that I would have to work three times harder than everyone else to get what I want because I was a woman of color. My mother is a daily inspiration for me as well. She continues to encourage me to push boundaries and that has helped me combat the biases that I faced in my career and I ultimately carved out my own professional trajectory for most of it which resulted in me becoming a serial entrepreneur and founding 2 tech companies.
I relaunched myself six years ago with a vision to bring global ecosystems of entrepreneurship together and concurrently was able to get involved in the early days of digital health when a friend asked me to be a part of the Health 2.0 Silicon Valley leadership team. That is when I felt like everything fell into place for me professionally because I was able to bring pieces of my past together. I was able to combine my passion for human health with my interest in technology. Having been in the digital health world for over 6 years now, I have a great network and I am an expert in the space and have taken it one step further by venturing into the intersection of blockchain and healthcare. I am focused on how we can use blockchain to bridge global markets and provide access from one part of the world to another. I truly believe that we can use blockchain as a foundation to bring a renaissance in the digital health market and am raising my first venture capital fund in order to use blockchain (and its intersection with deep technology like AI, machine learning and IoT) to solve some of the greatest challenges we see in the world today.