Women from tech startups wrote to him thanking him for telling him what they had been feeling, Esponnette said.
Lola Priego, 30, the founder of Base, which offers blood and saliva tests at home that are processed in traditional labs, listens to a Theranos comparison at least once a week, she said. The referrals come directly or indirectly from potential partners, advisers, investors, clients and reporters, he said.
He said he understood the need for skepticism, as healthcare startups must be viewed critically to prevent negligence. Comparisons often stop after people learn that Base is working with Quest Diagnostics, a multinational company, to analyze their tests.
“But the additional bias and skepticism are hard to overcome,” Priego said.
The blow came from a scientific adviser whom Priego said he had tried to hire in 2019. The adviser took the meeting only to tell him that bringing technology to healthcare was doing the industry a disservice, as was Theranos. It made Ms. Priego wonder if she could hire the caliber of consultants she was hoping for.
“It was quite demoralizing,” he said. Since then, he has hired six consultants.
In July, Verge Genomics scored a three-year partnership with pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly to work on drugs for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, Zhang said. The company also published an article about its methods in a scientific journal last year and recruited a scientific director this year.
It was a relief to have something to show to those who had doubts, Ms. Zhang said.
“The most fragile part of the company is the earliest stage where you have to buy from the people, the vision and the idea,” he said. Reflecting on Ms Holmes and Theranos, he added: “This is where these kinds of associations can be really damaging and reduce the potential.”