Ossa Featured Partner: Sophia Yen, MD, CEO & Co-Founder of Pandia Health
Sophia Yen, MD is the CEO and co-founder of Pandia Health, a telemedicine birth control delivery service. Pandia Health’s mission is to make birth control accessible to all women with a mailbox and access to the internet, saving women the trip to the pharmacy each month. Pandia Health’s services are free with insurance, or just $15 per pill pack. They also send free samples, goodies, and valuable information with each shipment.
Aside from the delivery service, Pandia’s mission goes further to de-stigmatize the birth control pill socially and culturally. Sophia Yen and her team publish regular content about the many benefits of birth control beyond preventing unplanned pregnancies – including, but not limited to, treatment of PCOS, acne, and heavy periods. The Pandia Health Birth Control Fund was created to gives financial assistance to women in need by providing free birth control.
Sophia Yen, MD has over 20 years of experience in medicine. She graduated from MIT, UCSF Medical School, and UC Berkeley with a MPH in Maternal Child Health, and serves as a clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Adolescent Medicine at Stanford Medical School.
Name: Sophia Yen, MD
Company: Pandia Health, Inc
Job Title: CEO & Co-Founder
Current home base: Silicon Valley
Originally from: I grew up in Northern CA, and I was born in the U.S.
Your Superpower: I live, breathe, eat, and prescribe birth control. My passion, perseverance, and advocacy is my superpower.
One thing on your bucket list: Meet Ruth Bader Ginsburg and make Pandia Health a smashing success!
Quote/piece of advice that you live by: Never be afraid to ask for help. There’s a special place in hell for women that don’t help women.
Personal Anthem: Beyonce’s “Run The World“
A book or article you read in the past year that you would recommend: LEAPFROG, The New Revolution for Women Entrepreneurs by Nathalie Molina Niño
A woman in history you admire & why:
Eleanor Roosevelt. She set so many precedents as the first presidential spouse to have a major stake in news and media. She advocated for expanded roles for women in the workplace, the civil rights of African Americans and Asian Americans, and the rights of World War II refugees. She pressed the U.S. to join and support the United Nations and became its first delegate, serving as the first chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights. She spoke up. She was a trailblazer and glass ceiling shatterer. A #SheHero.
A present-day woman you admire & why:
Gloria Steinem, co-founder of Ms. Magazine and author of 7 books and counting. She said, “I’m often asked if I’ll be passing the torch onto someone else. I say no, I won’t be passing it on. I’m using it to light the torches of others. The idea that there’s only one torch is part of the problem.”
What inspired you to start your current company?
I found out that the number one reason women don’t take their birth control is because they don’t have it on hand. My friend and I said, we can solve that! We saw a problem, we knew the solution, and we went for it.
How do you feel yourself making an impact and generating positive change through your work?
At Pandia Health, we bring birth control to women wherever they have internet and a mailbox. We’re making women’s lives easier and less stressful. We prevent “pill anxiety” – the monthly fear of running out of your birth control and the stress of having to run to the pharmacy.
We’re also de-stigmatizing the pill by educating people that it is used for non-birth control purposes as well as preventing pregnancy. The birth control pill can be effective for treating painful or heavy periods, PCOS, acne, and also stabilizes hormones for those with depression, seizures, diabetes and more! We are educating the world about #PeriodsOptional and birth control via our educational information on Youtube, blogs, FB, Instagram, twitter,and more (linked below)!
What is one thing you have accomplished through your work that you are most proud of?
Putting together this great team at Pandia Health of people who are passionate and excited to make women’s lives better and prevent unplanned pregnancies.
What is one major work milestone that you would like to accomplish in the next year?
Get series A funded!
What is one new project/endeavor you are currently working on that you are most excited about?
Launching telemedicine in more states.
What do you see as one of the biggest challenges facing your industry today?
Outdated laws that require doctors to get licensed in each state in which they want to practice. Doctors take national boards and medicine should be practiced the same in every state. This is preventing telemedicine from expanding and medical progress overall.
What is a trend in your industry that you foresee becoming popular in the future?
More telemedicine as more technology enables doctors to be confident and get more information about the patient remotely. Soon we will able to gather information about blood pressure, heart rate, oxygenation, and more.
What is one of the greatest challenges you have personally faced in your current line of work?
Getting funding. I’m not a part of the “old boys network” of Silicon Valley (Stanford, Googlers, techies, etc.). I’m different from your VC favorite founder (male recent college grad in jeans and hoodies). I’m a mother, a doctor, a woman, and older. But I see these as advantages – as a mother, I know there are LOTS of hours in the day to get things done. As a doctor, I can pull all-nighters and I will do whatever is necessary to get the job done. I have domain expertise as a woman (I know the product, I know the customer, I know where to find the customer). And as an older person, I’ve run a household and handled the finances for my sorority, college class, family, and more. I know how to budget and how to make a profit from all of my prior life experience.
What were you doing before your current role?
I was an Academic Adolescent Medicine Clinical Associate Professor seeing patients and doing research/advocacy.
What is one of the best pieces of advice you’ve ever received & why?
Never be afraid to ask for help. If you don’t ask, you don’t get it.
Are there any great personal or professional resources you love that you would like to share?
Springboard Enterprises (non-profit with several accelerators), StartX (Stanford’s startup community of founders helping founders), Women’s Startup Lab, Jason Calacanis’ Founder University
Is there a charity or cause you care about that you would like to share?
Pandia Health Birth Control Fund is a project of the Center for Policy Analysis. It provides birth control and telemedicine for birth control to those that need it. SheHeroes.org – free online videos for 3rd-8th graders showing women in jobs where women are under represented, showing young people that women can be whatever they want to be as long as they work hard.
Fun fact about yourself:
I married my high school sweetheart.