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Estelle Giraud, founder of Trellis Health saw a massive opportunity to build an improved healthcare system from the ground up. Her goal is create more seamless experiences for consumers in their pregnant state and provide them with better information on how they can take care themselves during this time period – something many people aren’t aware exists! She thrives off tough conversations about hard problems which she addresses candidly without hesitation or filter.

—Estelle Giraud

Raw And Real Entrepreneurship with Estelle Giraud

Topics covered in the interview

Trellis Health
The future of Trellis
Ai and medicine
Economic landscape
Being a mother and founder
Time management
The Founders Game

Estelle Giraud’s Bio

Estelle Giraud is a PhD scientist (population genetics) turned commercial operator and leader in biotech and frontier medicine @Illumina, and now turned founder.

Also a mother and woman founder, Estelle has had to navigate the change and challenges that come with this journey. She is deeply excited and scared by the rise of (big) data in healthcare and wellness, and passionate about creating a better healthcare system from the ground up, especially for individuals.

Estelle believes people don’t neatly fit in single boxes, and some of the most interesting insights about people and the world come from the unplanned intersections. She brings authenticity and openness to tough conversations about the hard problems we face, and thrives in finding new understanding through conversation.

Follow Estelle

Show Notes

Read Full Transcript

Speaker 00:00
Welcome to Raw and Real Entrepreneurship, the show that dares to bring the no nonsense insight to those who have the coverage to start, grow, and scale a business. Here's your host, entrepreneur, investor and best selling author, Susan Sly.

Susan Sly 00:15
All right, what is up Raw and Real entrepreneurs, I hope you're having an amazing day, wherever you are. And I just want to acknowledge you. You're here because you want to hear what it takes to conceive of a business, then turn that idea into an actual business and grow that business. And you have been writing me, messaging me and letting me know which shows really are resonating for you. And I want to thank you for that. And just so everyone knows that we're, as we approach 300 episodes, and interviewing the most incredible entrepreneurs, the commitment that I have is to quality and not necessarily to quantity. And right now, for applicants, we're rejecting 90% of applicants, because we want the people who are in the trenches like my guest today, and building real businesses, because that's what all of you deserve. You deserve to hear that. And as everyone knows, the regular listeners, I'm in the thick of it, building a business, we're getting ready for a funding round in the new year, I mean, all of the things. And my guest today, I was so excited to get this application because I went like, everything about her. She has a PhD in population genetics. And what she doesn't know is, in my undergrad, genetics was my favorite core. So if we talk about Punnett squares, just like, we might geek out, I apologize. Some of you like it, I know. Then she turned to commercial operator and leader in biotech and frontier medicine. And now she has become a founder of Trellis Health. She is a mother of a toddler and like, if you were on the treadmill or driving your car, just keep one hand on the wheel, one hand on the side of the treadmill, just but like, you know, moms, dads out there, grandma's grandpa's, like give her a virtual fist bump because the toddlers are, that's like a intense multiplier right there. That is not a linear equation. That is like, it's like having three children at one time. And she believes that people don't neatly fit in single boxes, which is awesome. And you know, we're going to talk about today, leading edge technology. We're going to talk about what it takes to start a company during a recession, what it's like to go out there and do fundraising and show up as your best self every single day when you've been changing nappies or diapers depending on which side of the pond you're on, you know and haven't slept or you have a child at home who's sick. That was my week this week. So with that, I have the express pleasure to introduce the one and only Estelle Giraud. Estelle, thank you for being here on Raw and Real Entrepreneurship.

Estelle Giraud 01:55
Susan, I cannot thank you enough for that introduction. That was amazing.

Susan Sly 03:15
Let me rapid fire. Last time you didn't get a full night's sleep.

Estelle Giraud 03:20
Last night. I'm running on coffee this morning.

Susan Sly 03:27
This is Raw and Real Entrepreneurship. So what, how much sleep did you get?

Estelle Giraud 03:34
I mean, six hours on and off, interrupted. My little guy is sick right now. So he came and joined us in bed for a little while, which is never a good idea you get kicked in. Because, yeah, one of those nights. Yeah.

Susan Sly 03:51
My, when our son was that he couldn't fall asleep unless he was holding on to our hair, my hair and Chris's hair. He's 20 now. And so that that ended but like those nights and then people would say to me, I'm so tired but don't have kids and I'm like, I love you and you don't know when tired is because there isn't any like, after you don't get a good night's sleep you just go from on to on, right? Like you're building your business and being a mom and there's like, I just want to have a nap. Someone said to me what's your perfect vacation?

Estelle Giraud 04:33
I'm there, I am definitely there.

Estelle Giraud 04:36
Well thank you for your you know, I know we're gonna get a lot of fans, a lot of comments and don't forget to drop a five star review into iTunes. I look at those ones personally, not a staff member. And especially if you're a parent and just say I resonate with this. So Estelle, let's talk about Trellis. This, you know, when I was on the trellis website, I mean there were so, the, one of the things I look at as a tech founder is what is the emotional response in engaging with tech? And words like warm, welcoming, user friendly. So tell us about Trellis.

Estelle Giraud 05:14
Yes, I, so, as you said in the introduction, I'm a scientist by training. I have devoted my career to medicine. And I'm an optimist. I really believe that the future of medicine is bright, and is going to undergo a revolution in the next decade. At the same time, I saw just again, and again and again, in my corporate kind of career pre trellis, some of the systematic issues that we have with realizing that vision and the fact that it's kind of broken at its lowest foundational level, and I don't see, we, I don't see us getting to the future that we need to unless we kind of re-architect that bottom layer of healthcare and really put the patient, the person, the consumer, the woman, whoever that is like, front and center, in that. And this gets a lot of lip service in the industry. You know, people talk about patient centric care and putting the patient at the center of their health care and at the center of their data and kind of all of these things. But when you look across the industry, there's not many people, especially within hospitals, or big payers that are actually doing that, and really kind of thinking about what does it mean to have somebody in control of their own health and their own destiny and feel supported in doing that. And so, you know, I, this is kind of glossing over this stuff, as I'm happy to dig deeper and in Trellis Health, but kind of what we're trying to do is empower women specifically, to really be empowered in that journey. We're starting with pregnancy for a number of specific reasons. But part of that was my own experience through pregnancy. You know, I was already passionate about this field, I was already working in, in kind of Frontier medicine. And I became pregnant. And I was like, What is this? Like this is not the experience that I was expecting. And I spoke to dozens of women and you know, my care team was fabulous. I have nothing against my care team. But the amount of responsibility that you take for your health, the kind of overwhelming nature of that, I had hypotension, I had postpartum preeclampsia. And these are not uncommon things. These are you know, this, we're talking about 30 plus percent of pregnancies. And we don't even know what causes preeclampsia, like there is so much work to be done in women's health. And so that's where we're starting. And obviously, the aim is to grow beyond that for everybody, but really approaching it from the very beginning of a lens of what is this consumer experience look like? And consumer, I don't believe is the dirty word in healthcare. I think people push back on that a lot. But the future of medicine and the next generation coming through is going to demand a different health care experience.

Susan Sly 08:32
So well said and I don't think consumer is the wrong word either. Because the reality is, is that health care is a pay to play model. And even in Canada, where I'm from, if you want other services, or complementary services, you are going to pay for those services. Even in France, socialized medicine, there's a pay to play. So if if there is a choice and a path, and there's a way to take confusion out of that choice in that path, backed by science, then it's fantastic. And I think you know, is as I was looking at tellis one of the things that came to mind is especially for women who are getting pregnant, and they, they've miscarried before or miscarried a couple of times before. There was a big article that just came out, Jennifer Aniston was talking about her journey with IVF. And people say oh, she just didn't want to have a child and we're seeing other people who were in the media, in the news, talking about, openly about miscarriages or late term miscarriages and I know I had a miscarriage going into my second trimester and then when I got pregnant the next time, I was, I was frightened. Because it was every day I was wondering, and I was questioning and I love that your starting with pregnancy. I love that. It's so needed. So obviously your beachhead in the you know, in this, you know startup speed we call it the beachhead market is pregnancy. There is a, there's no end of potential consumers in that market. But where would you see Trellis going after that?

Estelle Giraud 10:22
Yeah. So I'll step back for a second and say that when I left my corporate job in biotech right before the pandemic, and the vision of you know, building in this space, initially, was this utopia of everybody has all of their health data at their fingertips in their pocket, every vaccine you've ever had from birth, you can take that information anywhere you want to go, and on that really clean, comprehensive longitudinal data set, you can start to build AI, and really kind of get to precision medicine and kind of data driven medicine, because we will never get there, really, unless we have good data to start with. And there's, you know, we can talk about all of the layers of problems and in healthcare today, and bias, and the way that research is done, and you name it, those problems exist in healthcare. But this utopia is, is it's such a well trodden path of companies trying to build this. So everybody from Google, you know, I don't know if you or your listeners remember, but Google had Google Health 10 years ago, 10 plus years ago, and it was a personal health record, that people were kind of supposed to build out themselves. Microsoft has tried this, startups have tried this, everybody's kind of been searching for this utopia. And, you know, I see that future. I, just because others have tried it and failed, doesn't mean that that is not a future that we can have and we can build. I'm very comfortable being contrary and about that and ambitious about that goal. But I think where people have failed before is firstly understanding the timing, like what are the real kind of inflection points and factors that go into making that a reality? And then, like, you say, what is the beachhead? What is the right beachhead to enable that, and particularly when you're talking about a consumer business and a personal health record, at its core, as it should be an is focused on a consumer, you need to be so laser focused on what is the right beachhead for that, and nobody has looked at pregnancy or woman's health before. And for so many reasons this is the right place to start to name a couple of them, you know, women, the chief medical officers of the family in so many instances, you know, especially these kind of, you know, 20 to 40 year old women or even a little bit older, you get sandwiched in between taking care of children and taking care of parents at the same time, making decisions for the family in terms of medical care, you know the doctors, you know the dentist, you know, all of this. Women are also responsible for making 80 plus percent of consumer buying decisions. So if you talk about, you know, where does the money, where does the power come from, and the economics of consumer buying, its women. The other thing is, you're talking about changing really hard problems in healthcare, and re architecting this data, and if the utopia is built from birth, it takes so much more energy to fix that than it does to build it right from the beginning. And so we envision this being a platform for the children of these pregnancies. Then, to have that record built from birth, we're kind of changing it from now moving forward, where, and this is a long game, right? Like this isn't going to happen overnight. But if we can give the gift of better health, more predictive health and better health records from birth to the next generation, my bet is that women or women who are building that generation are willing to put in the effort or the time to build that as a gift for the children as well and to create a better future for them.

Susan Sly 14:56
So it's so smart Estelle and this whole piece about the utopia, I'm right there with you. And I was writing a paper at MIT discussing, you know, Blockchain implications and health records and data. And getting to this place where we could control if we wanted to trade our data, or even sell our data for some, our health data for some purpose, whether it was benevolent or in our ones not. But the other thing that struck me about this is so, so we, my, I have recently applied for my green card. And so you know, one of the things that happens often is, were there any, you know, maternal challenges when your mother was pregnant for you? Well, my mother has died. I can't ask her. My father, God, love him is very bright, 83 years old, doesn't remember. So I have to order my long form birth certificate from the province of Ontario. So I just got my long form birth certificate, I found I was born prematurely. I didn't even know this. You know, and I think yeah, in my, so I said to my father, I said, dad, did you know I was born premature? He's like, no, no. It wasn't like, super premature. Okay. But yeah, and, and, and, and I think about that, this, this place of trust, right? So even in Radius or in building computer vision AI, that our key statement is around trust. And that when you're working with moms, and it's, it's at a vulnerable place, being pregnant, there's a tremendous amount of uncertainty, your body is not your own, you've got surging hormones, and all sorts of things going on, and to be, to be able to have that trust. And that then the next generation builds that trust. And I love how you said, it's a long game. So I want to throw this out. So we were talking before the show is like, oh, we should be recording this. So Estelle and I were talking about fundraising. The statistic is in Silicon Valley, two and a half percent of VC pitches by women get funded to only two and a half percent. So I know that landscape is changing, I have VCs reaching out to me every single day, there's ,they're shifting the narrative, but raising money in a recession. Let's talk about the attitude, the, you were sharing you're going to do another funding round. So what has been your experience with fundraising?

Estelle Giraud 17:55
It is a game of mental fortitude, resilience, and being so deeply rooted in your own self worth and your own mission and your why of what you're doing. It's a ringer. It's rough, it's, and it's, it's rough in an unfair way. As for women, like I want to change those statistics, and I love this conversation with you. We need more of this, we need more women showing that you can do this and that that is a path. And if male investors are not looking at that, and evaluating that, they're missing out, they're missing out on these opportunities for women building businesses like this. But right now I, you know, the bias, and I've experienced this personally, myself, I'm, maybe you have as well, but particularly when you have a tech focused, big vision, big mission company. You know, they've done studies on this, men get judged on future potential, and blue sky opportunities. And all of the questions in the conversation is around how big could this be? And like, what does success look like? And women get the opposite, and it's risk management. And, you know, tell me all the ways that you can prove that you've done this before and you have the right experience. And it's like, if you are building something big and ambitious, being able to reframe that conversation very proactively and say, yes, okay, this is how we're managing risk. But this is all the upside.

Susan Sly 19:42
Yeah. Yeah, it's, there was something I read that it was listing out the questions that women founders get asked versus male founders, and you hit it. I mean, at Radius, we've been very fortunate as I shared that anyone can see on CrunchBase that, that our funding has been friends and family. And, and so it's just been, it's been people who believe in the team. And many investors that came in were friends of mine from, you know, a long time ago, some of the investors were new friends through another one of our founders. And it's just so interesting because when I look at the conversation, people were so caught up in this track record of what have you done, and so on. And the tech was not as important as the track record. And MIT philosophy is past behavior predicts future outcomes, right? And so here you are this, you have a PhD, we're gonna say, you know, very accomplished in the bio tech-

Estelle Giraud 20:50
with distinction. With IP, you know.

Susan Sly 20:57
Yes. And we need to celebrate all of those things. Right. And, and so now, as you go into this funding round in this economy, so the, you know, economic headwinds, is the nice way of saying a recession, and we're seeing meta layoffs. Twitter is different. I mean, it's not that it's not about, it's also about, you know, shift of direction. Intel announced massive layoffs. And so there's this caution that I'm observing, but how are you feeling about going out to raise funds in this, in this landscape, economic landscape?

Estelle Giraud 21:38
economic landscape? Yes. I mean, it's like, there's a lot of themes, and you know, people talking about this throughout the industry. My personal take on this is that generation defining companies and like the next wave of enormous tech companies are being founded today, right now. And yes, things might have slowed down. Yes, it might be harder. It's certainly hard for us right now. But I'm, that's okay. Like, it's, it forces the entrepreneurs that are committed to this and doing this right now, to be resilient to sharpen their message to sharpen everything about what they're doing. Like I would much rather build a company today, and have that kind of pressure on us, then be a, you know, have already closed a Series A or Series B, in a bull market of the last couple of years, and have the entire culture and training and momentum of our company in that space, and then have to reset all of that today. Like, I would want to be forged in the fire of today, and have that carry with me for the company for the next decade. As we grow I think that's a much stronger foundation to have. And so I, maybe I'm crazy, but I'm really leaning into that.

Susan Sly 23:20
What I'm, what I'm hearing is, it's really your mindset around it, and that you don't mind the challenge, because you know, it's going to make you stronger. And that's the, and that's the key. And it really, in my opinion, that mindset going into it is one of abundance. Okay, so not this VC, okay, there's another VC. Right now, even with VCs that are reaching out, some of them, I'm looking at their background, I'm looking at their funds, I'm looking at their companies, some I'm choosing to have like a 15 minute virtual coffee date with just to see if there is, if they're a good cultural fit for the company. Because if they're not, then it doesn't matter. No amount of money in the world is going to, is going to be worth disrupting the culture we have. And I'm sure it's the same for you. And so, I'm, what I'm doing is I'm having this little coffee date, and I'm like, okay, yeah. Then we'll have a formal meeting. There is this, there is this gal, I won't disclose who she is or what funds she's with. So we had this 15 minute kind of coffee date. And now we're going to be having cocktails in New York. And it was like, I was like, I could work with you. If you were the one calling to say, Susan, you know what's going on? What's in the pipeline? I could handle you doing this?

Estelle Giraud 24:44
Yeah. That's what you want from, you want, you want somebody that you can trust like I think it's on both sides, right? The investors are looking can I trust this founder? You as a founder, can I trust this investor? Like you, I don't know know, this has been a recent realization for me, but it's on both sides, you are making this person's career. Like, it's a, it's a virtuous kind of loop, and they don't get to make endless numbers of investments, you know. There's this false narrative, I think around like, abundance on their side and scarcity on a founder side, but it's imbalanced on both ways, like founders have a lot of abundance, there are a lot of investors out there. And investors also can only make a few bets on founders. They can only pick a few companies to really make their career and, and kind of stand on and so you want somebody that you can have that kind of a partnership with.

Susan Sly 24:45
Do you ever look in the mirror, and maybe it's a, you know, after a night of not sleeping? And do you ever, do you ever, I guess, look in the mirror and give yourself a pep talk?

Estelle Giraud 26:03
I'm getting better at it. I do. I do. And I have this thing, you know, it comes back to being a woman on a female entrepreneur and a female founder. And I think, for men, I'm not a man. So I'm speaking from the outside, but it feels so natural, that they just grow into confidence. And it just kind of, all of the tail winds are there to tell them that they can do this. And for women, I think it's not that easy to just like, passively grow into confidence. And so I've had to frame it in my mind of I'm stepping into confidence, I'm taking an active step towards this future in this person, who I am. But I'm choosing to actively step into that.

Susan Sly 27:06
Yeah, that is so good. And it's that so often, people look externally for validation. And the reason I asked you that question is because I want people to understand that when you haven't had sleep, your child is sick, and you know, maybe you had a few emails that you're like, oh my gosh, I'm dealing with this, that you have to be your first cheerleader. And, and I have different mantras, but one of them is I am the CEO, our team needs me to be or I am, yesterday to be candid, so our, one of our daughters was having, getting bullied at school, and it's getting quite severe. It's going to social media. And I knew I had, I had to schedule an appointment, the dean and I, I thought there's CEO, Susan, who, you know, there's this iteration of me then there's the iteration of me that has done training events on stage with Tony Robbins and Jack Canfield. And there's that iteration of me. And what I said in the mirror, Estelle was this, I said, I am the mother my daughter needs me to be. And and so these pep talks, as I call them, it's so important. Everyone has to be their own cheerleader. And we can't you know, because we are going to get beaten up. Again, this is Raw and Real. We're gonna get beaten up by investors. Okay, you didn't make your target or your new customer acquisition wasn't where it was supposed to be, or you didn't make your fundraising target or there was an investor who said, Yes, I'm going to invest. And you're like, yes, we just did it. And then they were like, oh, no, I can't imagine. Yeah. So at that, at the end of the day, that's so key. Let me ask you this. We were talking as well, about being a mom, building a company, and how has being a mom made you a better founder?

Estelle Giraud 29:14
Oh, yeah. I mean, so just like, ties directly from what you were just saying. And I firmly believe that people do not fit in boxes. We try and put people in the singular boxes, like, oh, this person is the CEO or this person is a, whatever that is, but our power as humans comes from the intersection of those boxes, and the ways that you can say, I am the mother that my daughter needs today, and I'm a CEO, and I'm doing all of this, you know, this entire space of who I am, is where I get my power from. And certainly, I wouldn't be building the company that I'm building if I didn't have the experiences that I had through motherhood. I'm extremely grateful for that. And, you know, I, there's so many things about motherhood and kind of translating that into benefits from entrepreneurship. But I think it's made me a better leader. It's made me a better time manager. I am ruthless about my time and my focus, but it also forces a certain sense of balance and perspective. And I don't think this is unique, I think women and parents more generally, all have this, we just don't always bring it to the surface in who we are, and how we lead and I am unapologetic about, you know, that's a, that's a part of who I am, like, I am a mother, I have a toddler at home. Some days, you know, I'm struggling with that area of my life. And I'm leaning on people at Trellis. And sometimes the opposite is true. And I'm leaning on other aspects of my support network at home. I also have to be really rigorous about like, what I can do at home and who, and what my values are and what order they sit in, and not feel guilty about that either. I think women carry a lot of guilt around Oh, I'm not at home with my children all day, or I'm outsourcing aspects of my life and what it means to be a mother. But like, we all have a value system and a purpose. And we have to accept, I have to accept that, that I'm also, I'm not with my son all day every day, but I don't think I would be a good mother if I was. This is Raw and Real.

Susan Sly 31:54
Yeah, it is. There's no shame in that at all. I have a funny story. So um, I'm going through Whole Foods. And I've got, I think two of my girls with me at this time. And there was a mom with a toddler, and she was in the wine aisle. And she looked at me like she just needed to say this to someone. She said, I didn't even drink until I became a mother. And I gave her a high five. I'm like, you're okay, you're okay. Yeah, take a breath. And this is a you know, it, I think that the big thing is, is that there are going to be days when it is more challenging, because you are tired or your child is sick, or bullying is happening at school. And there's really that how you navigate elegantly through leading. We now have offices in three continents, two in the US, one in Turkey and one in Bangalore. And so I'm leading people with people, you know, all over the world. And, you know, and navigating that being a mom, what, it comes down to how we manage ourselves in time. So what is your best time management tip for someone who's a working parent listening and an entrepreneur?

Estelle Giraud 33:18
Yeah. It starts with mindset. And I've found that it starts in the morning. So really being clear on, and rooted in your own power for that day and not being reactive, I think, especially like it starts when you're pregnant. And then in like that early newborn phase, your whole life is reactive on somebody else's needs. And so reframing that first thing in the morning, like, this is me, I am this person, this is what I want out of today. This is how I'm approaching today, is really helpful to be in control of what happens. And then I do also set myself, and they're fluid, right? It's not like I have a set of goals for Trellis and then another set of goals for things that happen like in my other life. It's what is the one biggest thing for today, three medium things and five little things. And it's because I need big. I need to feel like I'm making progress on big things and important things, but I also am extremely results focused as a person and I need to feel like I'm making fast things happen. And so the five little things can fit in between what I'm doing through the day and I have a very long list of little things but I just pick five for the day and I'm like okay, this is my quick wins. And then something else that I've been experimenting in recently is this idea of hold your focus to the fire. Like it's, in startups, especially for us right now going into fundraising going into the holidays. Like there's, there's a lot that's not ideal about this, there's a lot of stress, there's macro, there's like all of this stuff, but a superpower is hold your focus to the fire and commit to even a short period of time of focus, and it feels accessible, and it, it builds momentum on itself. This is also something that motherhood taught me like in those early days, when you get like, 15 minutes to yourself, you've got such a tight window, you're like, Okay, what am I going to do in 15 minutes? Like, I'm gonna, I'm just gonna, like, I don't have time to do any, like, I have 15 minutes, let's go. And so it's taking that same kind of energy and applying it to focus.

Susan Sly 36:00
Absolutely. It's amazing. As a founder, what you can accomplish in five minutes, literally. And I love that holding your focus to the fire. And it, the priorities too, because when you decide as a company, what is the priority right now? And priority, when I wrote my book, Organize Your Life, I wrote the root of the word priority. It was not plural. Until last century. Really? Yes. So it came from the Latin priore, which meant one, there was one head, you know, and so we, we made it plural, last century and mid last century. And suddenly it was priorities. And one of, when I was working on researching that book, which is like that book, I haven't written a book since 2015. Because I've been building a company. But the, when I was researching that book, Estelle, and I read that and I went, if I'm setting priorities, I don't have a priority. And so as a company, when my co founders and I came together instead, what is the priority for Radius? It was very easy for when something else was coming up in my day, that was either taking away from that priority, or if an opportunity came, that would be higher in that ranking. That was what I focus on. And so the thing is, with entrepreneurship, you're gonna put in long days, it's, you know, this whole myth. Oh, I'm going to have time freedom. No, you're not.

Estelle Giraud 37:32
No, you're not. Like, you're just like, No, do something else.

Susan Sly 37:37
When was last time you took a vacation?

Estelle Giraud 37:45
People should take vacations, do what, I say, not what I do. Don't do what I do.

Susan Sly 37:50
This is Raw and Real Entrepreneurship. This is like, I'll tell, I'll disclos,e and you could disclose it so good.

Estelle Giraud 37:58
Last time I took a vacation was 2019. Um, but I'm okay with like, I'm playing a different, I'm playing a founder game. And a founder game is a different game. Like, if you're playing a founder game, you sign up for this, if you're not playing a founder game, take your vacations, take your, and even founders, like you should take your vacations, but it's really hard.

Susan Sly 38:25
It's a different, so it's there is a threshold that one crosses in my mind as a founder, where if you are unplugged, you don't feel relaxed. And so that it's a different, it's a different, it's not the we went to Aruba, and we had no service. And we were just like we didn't, you know, we didn't check in or whatever, because you're a founder. It's like the you're the mother, essentially, of all of the team members and the customers. So in the summer, my husband and I were celebrating our anniversary. So we, I said let's do a quick trip to France. And so my friends who are not founders were like, That's fabulous. Your going for two weeks, three weeks. I'm like, No, we're going for four days.

Estelle Giraud 39:13
Yes. And that's a perfect vacation for me like a long weekend.

Susan Sly 39:18
Yes, exactly. And so, we you know, we went and it was lovely. And we've been to Paris before many times, so it was like we didn't need to do all the touristy stuff. And my husband, who is, he's the CFO of our company, and he's a CPA, so he knows what it's like to roll on these things. And he's the exact same way. So the funny thing, Estelle was because we're in a different timezone, obviously. So, you know, we got a, we have our coffee, we go work out. We're strolling around the city. Around two in the afternoon we have some, you know, some wine and a lunch. And then at six o'clock, he's on a conference call. I'm at a conference call. And then it's like we go out for dinner. High five. It's like That was a great day, right? Yeah, it was, it was very relaxing.

Estelle Giraud 40:03
But I think that's key as well. It's like you have to find, vacations for me are about energy management, like what's giving you energy? And if you feel like you need to step away to replenish that energy, by all means you should. Like we're all about energy management. But if you're a founder if you're building something from nothing, the notion of progress and building gives you energy. And it feels very strange to step away from that.

Susan Sly 40:33
Yeah, absolutely. Are you playing the founder game? It's so true. So I'm taking a couple days off. And so one of our, recently we've hired a bunch of people, and some of them I've known from before in my, you know, past life before. So anyway, our chief legal officer, she and I have known each other since, we met like PTA like, when our girls were like, literally in kindergarten. And she's like, I want to make sure you really take time off. And I'm like, okay, that's- we'll see how it is. I tried to decide if I'm going to, I live two hours from Sedona. So we I'm based out of our Phoenix office. And so I'm trying to decide Estelle, if I'm like, going to like, go to Sedona and check into a hotel for a night and then just take a day to regroup. And that, to your point, that will energize me. Yeah, right, one day to think and plan, but I'm still going to be thinking about the company because yeah, I am playing the founders game.

Estelle Giraud 41:37
It's not a game that you can just like, switch off for a weekend, either. Like, I think even if I was unplugged on a beach somewhere, I would be really, really excited to use that time for like deep strategy planning or reading self growth, like-

Susan Sly 41:55
writing a new SOP for something like yeah, so can we, read on the other side maybe we should create a board game together called The Founders Game.

Estelle Giraud 42:04
I'm so up for that.

Susan Sly 42:06
Yes, right? Exactly. And it would be great for kids too like, to actually learn. There are so, I could do a diatribe of this. But there are so many, so many young people I knew who were in Gen Z who became influencers and they started to make money. But that was really, social media wasn't the same red ocean it is and there wasn't like, that was pre pandemic. So of course they're getting, they're monetizing YouTube, they're monetizing Instagram, they're monetizing Tik Tok, and all these things, but they don't actually know how to be an entrepreneur or a founder. And so I, Okay, so that's a, that's a whole aside, and just so all of you, so Estelle and I are going to trademark that. And anyway,

Estelle Giraud 42:53
Look out for that.

Susan Sly 42:54
Yeah, look out for that. Um, I, we, one final thing is, we were talking about this concept of starting small. And there's this misperception by people who are not entrepreneurs, or just coming into the entrepreneurial world because they do watch too many TikTok videos, they've watched the YouTube like, I got to $10 million a year, and I sold my business for 100 million in one month or something stupid like, and there, there's a lot of misinformation about what it takes to actually grow a significant business. And so when we were talking about that, and I said, to Estelle, what's something you'd really love to be asked something you'd love to talk about? And this was the thing she said, so what does that mean to you?

Estelle Giraud 43:44
I think about this a lot. And I think about it in the context of Trellis health. But I also just think about it in the context of entrepreneurship and building a business. People, firstly, people see all the glamorous, you know, the TechCrunch articles and the or they look at companies as they exit, and they see how big they are, particularly tech companies, and you don't often see the story of where they started and why that was successful. And I would argue the journey is more successful and making decisions, smart decisions along the way while keeping that vision in mind is more important than having that big idea because you can't, you can't go out and boil the ocean. It's like, we know it's cliche, but the most powerful companies have started with like 80 plus percent market share of tiny industries, like a single college for Facebook. Books for Amazon, like just selling books is a very esoteric niche, small starting place. And so I think the challenge for a company, as somebody who wants to be an entrepreneur is like, particularly in the consumer space is like, start as small as like, you think you're small, bring it smaller again, and you think that small, find the smallest place to start. And your goal at that space is to own close to 100% of the space. And that's how you build these, like, sparks that turn into small fires that turn into large fires. If you go out and try and like burn a whole forest with a match, it's not going to work. You got to start really small and strong. And so, you know, with Trellis like, that's exactly what we're trying to do with pregnancy. People think of it as this niche. And I'm like, yes, it's a niche. It's extremely focused, it's 40 weeks long, it's, we can build a product around this. But it's also a niche that affects almost everybody on this planet, either directly or indirectly. It will allow us to grow into who we are going to be.

Susan Sly 46:01
I love that, Estelle. You're such a badass, like, seriously.

Estelle Giraud 46:10
I have loved this conversation. There's so much that I want to continue talking about with you.

Susan Sly 46:15
Yes, and when we start the show, I have some questions for you. SO anyway, but um, for the listeners, first and foremost, all of Estelle's social media will be in the show notes. So head on over to You can find them there. And I would love your comments and questions on the show because the, one of the things that I stand for is I'm a stand for women in technology and as a 50 year old woman in technology, who is in technology, and then out of technology, and here I am back in technology, there's a lot of standing to do. And when I get to bring amazing founders like Estelle on the show and have what I consider girlfriend chats, it's like the best thing ever. So Estelle, you talked about energy management like, this conversation has energized me, so thank you.

Estelle Giraud 47:07
My pleasure. Me too.

Susan Sly 47:10
All right, everyone. Well with that, this has been another episode of Raw and Real Entrepreneurship. And again, I would love you to go on iTunes, give us a five star review or wherever it is that you listen to the show, and I will see you in the next episode.

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Susan Sly

Author Susan Sly

Susan Sly is considered a thought leader in AI, award winning entrepreneur, keynote speaker, best-selling author, and tech investor. Susan has been featured on CNN, CNBC, Fox, Lifetime, ABC Family, and quoted in Forbes Online, Marketwatch, Yahoo Finance, and more. She is the mother of four and has been working in human potential for over two decades.

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