Dallas Barnes, the CEO and founder of Reya Health, feels strongly that women are being failed by the medical system.
“(This is) a system that, in theory, is supposed to be for women and yet folks with ovaries are not being used in research. Funding is not going to innovations made by and made for women, and we are bearing the brunt of it,” she tells ventureLAB.
Dallas launched Reya Health in 2020, a revolutionary digital platform that makes navigating birth control easy and effective. It utilizes algorithms and science and human-centred design to match members with the best birth control option for them. All someone needs to do to meet their match is create an account and answer an online questionnaire. Reya’s Birth Control Boundary technology also helps users navigate side effects.
“The inspiration for Reya truly came from my own experience with birth control. Having first-hand experience with the gruelling trial and error, one-size-fits-all approach to contraceptives,” she says. “I spent years trying different options, all of which made me feel unlike myself or caused adverse [side effects]. All the while I felt unsupported, uninformed and often dismissed by medical professionals.”
The last straw for Dallas came when she ended up in the hospital with a cyst that required medical intervention. She says she decided to “do something and create the solution” that she had wished for.
As a startup, Dallas was connected to ventureLAB through an investor. They had suggested ventureLAB’s Tech Undivided Program to support and accelerate Reya’s business growth, specifically its go-to-market and B2B strategies. Today, she says working through the accelerator’s growth plan structure has been beneficial. She’s also built a community she can lean on to support the work she’s doing.
“Team is everything. Make sure you have people in your corner and know that entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. If it was easy, everyone would do it!” - Dallas Barnes, Reya
Dallas adds she’s constantly finding herself in situations that she’s never been in before and deeply understands that people (and the success of the business) count on her to solve problems effectively and efficiently. She’s had to learn how to operate and grow under pressure.
“In a recent ventureLAB Tech Undivided session, we were talking about what we are grateful for and I shared with the group that I'm grateful for my mindset,” Dallas says.
“I’m learning that I have an ability to accept problems as they are and when they come at me, and almost in the same instant my mind is already thinking about three solutions. Quite honestly, I'm learning everyday.”
What’s more, she says, she feels pride in the work she’s doing. “Even the smallest improvements in the [women’s health] space has the potential to impact and improve entire communities,” and that matters.
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ventureLAB’s Tech Undivided initiative is creating an inclusive tech ecosystem that increases representation by removing barriers and reducing unconscious bias to give women founders an equitable opportunity to raise capital and generate revenue. Funded in part by the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, as part of the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, Tech Undivided leverages a merit-based, gender-balanced Strategic Mentor Network of entrepreneurs and business experts and a growing network of industry partners, enabling women founders to grow and scale locally, and compete globally.
ventureLAB is a leading global founder community for hardware technology and enterprise software companies in Canada. Located at the heart of Ontario’s innovation corridor in York Region, ventureLAB is part of one of the biggest and most diverse tech communities in Canada. Our initiatives focused on raising capital, talent retention, commercializing technology and IP, and customer acquisition have enabled thousands of companies to create over 4,000 jobs and raise more than $200 million in investment capital. At ventureLAB, we grow globally competitive tech titans that build-to-scale in Canada, for global markets.