Debra Reisenthel
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Debra Reisenthel

Founding CEO of Palo Alto Health Sciences

San Francisco Bay Area
Member since May 09, 2014
Founding CEO of Palo Alto Health Sciences Quote_down
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Credentials None
National-Louis University , BA , Applied Behavioral Sciences
University of Phoenix , MBA
Strategic Planning & Vision, Business Development, Business Strategy, FDA Approval & Clearance, Product Development, Product Commercialization, Regulatory Compliance, Go-to-Market Strategy, Board Relations & Leadership, Fundraising & Venture Capital

I am a(n):


Why did you start your company or why do you want to innovate inside your company?

To improve the lives of people suffering from panic disorder, panic attacks, and PTSD. The results from the early clinical trials were extremely compelling and people’s lives were transformed when they no longer had panic attacks.

What's most frustrating and rewarding about entrepreneurship/innovation?

The highs and lows are significant, whether related to technology /product development, clinical trials, fundraising, FDA, reimbursement, adoption, etc. The CEO has to be patient and driven at the same time and serve as the optimistic face to the company, customers and the Board.

What's the No. 1 mistake entrepreneurs/innovators make?

Underestimating the time and money required to meet company milestones, and then running out of cash. It is critical to outline the Milestones and cash required to get to the next key valuation point. Get Board to buy and keep them updated.

What are the top three lessons you've learned as an entrepreneur?

1) Hire a Management team who are experts in their field (marketing, sales, regulatory, R&D, clinical affairs), who know more than you do, and then give them the freedom and support to do their job. Recognize that the CEO doesn’t have all the answers. Don’t micromanage. Give the Mgmt. team visibility with the Board and always give credit to those who are doing the great work to move the company forward.

2) Be thoughtful about the company culture you want to create and put these “Mission and Values” in writing and in-place on Day 1. Use the Values as a filter when hiring employees and when doing performance reviews or letting people go. It is especially important as the company grows to maintain the culture you want to build.

3) Be thoughtful and intentional in the amount of money you raise. In my early CEO experience, I raised $60+M in venture capital while building the company. However, providing an acceptable shareholder return is difficult with that high valuation. More recently, I have raised Angel and Venture capital and focused on cash efficiency, raising just enough to get the company from one key milestone to the next, which allows the company more flexibility in exit options.

Why did you choose to be an entrepreneur?

I want to build companies that improve or save lives. I started my career in medicine and later transitioned to leadership roles in the medical device and digital therapeutics industries. I have a passion for leading and motivating a team of smart, highly-engaged people working toward a common goal!

What is your favorite startup?

Omada Health. Not an early stage start-up anymore, but the company and the CEO have been great role models for companies like Palo Alto Health Sciences as they have transitioned from early stage to mature organizations. I am on the Board of a start-up called Raydiant Oximetry - a company developing a sensor placed on the maternal abdomen during labor and delivery to measure a baby’s oxygen level. This is a potential game-changer for assessing a baby’s well-being during birth.

Full bio

I am Founding CEO of Palo Alto Health Sciences. Our first product is a digital therapeutic called Freespira, an at-home, drug-free, FDA cleared treatment, completed in 4 weeks. Treatment is indicated for panic disorder, panic attacks and PTSD.

History of entrepreneurial leadership: Successfully advances early-stage companies from initial concept to commercialization by executing forward-thinking, innovative business plans. Passionate about creating groundbreaking products and services to improve people’s lives, with expertise in medical devices and digital therapeutics.

Leverages broad professional network to develop business-supporting relationships with investors, payers, business partners, subject matter experts, government contacts, and key decision makers to spur successful go-to-market initiatives.

Recent career highlights include:
► Serving as the Founding CEO for Palo Alto Health Sciences and Novasys Medical Inc.

► Securing FDA Clearance and approval for groundbreaking Medical Products such as Freespira, non-drug digital therapeutic treatment for panic disorder, panic attacks, and PTSD.

► Earning a Blue Shield Technology assessment (CTAF) approval and CPT III and CPT I Codes by pioneering a clinical trial strategy to satisfy long-term reimbursement requirements for a first-to-market treatment.

In addition to executive leadership in publicly traded and start up companies, holds an MBA, a BA in Applied Behavioral Sciences, credentials as a Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT), and certificates from Stanford Graduate School of Business and Stanford School of Engineering Management Programs.

Serves as an industry thought leader, corporate and non-profit board member, and volunteer/mentor to female executives through my work with CSweetener and Astia.