Trailblazing CEO Brigette Bard is on a mission to help people take control of their own health
By Brigette Bard, Global CEO, BioSURE
Brigette Bard is a woman on a mission to empower people to take responsibility for their own wellbeing. She is the CEO and founder of BioSure Global, a UK diagnostics company with specialist expertise to self-testing for infectious diseases. Her legacy and unique insight to this rapidly growing global market is due to bringing the world’s first blood-based HIV self-test to market in 2015.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
BioSure was created on the firm belief that self-testing is going to have a fundamental role in the future of healthcare and one of the very few good outcomes of the resent pandemic is that it thrust this topic firmly into the spotlight and a lot more people understand home diagnostics.
A global clinical bottle neck exists when it comes to patient testing, preventing a lot of people accessing healthcare at critical times, so we believe by giving people a choice to take control of their own health and test on their own terms, wherever and whenever they choose can impact clinical outcomes and be very empowering. We are founded on a true passion of developing innovative products, so that people feel in control of their own well-being.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
For me, self-testing was always a no-brainer, because of the convenience and cost-effectiveness. Home pregnancy testing has been available for the past 30 years and you literally cannot imagine as a woman having to take time off work, go to a clinic, answer personal questions and wait several days to find out if she is pregnant! I honestly think home ‘screening’ for all diseases will become the norm and we even have home hormone, heart disease and cancer marker tests available now.
How did you achieve awareness?
We don’t only drive awareness, we spend a huge amount of resource educating people so that they feel confident in taking control and testing at-home. Our product range has expanded to cover many more health conditions, so there is a lot more to talk about with a far wider range of audience. We have always used social media and influencers to grow our communities, but we also collaborate with other businesses and organisations, who’s ethos is aligned with ours. Growing trust and confidence in our brand has taken years of leg work, but we continue to build an on-line community who feel comfortable owning the responsibility for their personal health and feel safe self-testing. Speaking about healthcare on social media is hard work; trust me on this one!
What are the key successes?
It goes without saying, that having a tangible social impact where you actually help people’s lives is the biggest success, but growing the business internationally with a presence across 4 continents is quite an achievement.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
In our industry sector it is incredibly regulated, as you would expect. Apart from the extraordinary timeline and cost incurred with getting a regulatory approval, there has been the added difficulty of gaining UKCA marking and not accepting CE marking anymore from the middle of 2023, but thank goodness the government have now extended the deadline. Europe has also brought in new regulations that has meant very few Notified Bodies are accredited to review and certify products and those that do have no capacity.
There are also ridiculous restrictions on both Google and social media platforms that often put us into the same class as ‘hate crimes’ so we are regularly battling against this. Originally we could not talk about HIV at all and we are still being continuously blocked, plus now we find the same with talking about COVID, polycystic ovaries and even diabetes!
What are your plans now/for the future?
Personally, I am increasingly becoming more involved with mentoring women in start-up businesses. We collaborated with a couple of start-ups during the pandemic and it really made me realise how much experience I have! Everyone is always happy talking about their successes, but it is really the failures and what doesn’t work that teach you the most!
As soon as I have time, I also have plans to start publishing blogs taken from my ‘Diary of a SheO’ I have been writing for many years!
Going through that rollercoaster journey of an entrepreneur is so exciting and it’s all of your own making! Following your dreams isn’t always easy, but as I have been told many times, ‘if it was, everyone would do it!’. Having a trusted business partner is ideal, so you can share the load and discuss ideas and I have always been super lucky in having an amazing mentor, who has helped me enormously both in business and personally, so have a think about the support system you can have in place around you.
I have a poster above my desk that says ‘Be Bold’ which has kept me going at several times! You definitely need courage and self-belief to deliver your dream and when you make a mistake, learn quickly and move on. Also the sheer volume of work and areas to cover can be overwhelming. I have always had the saying of, ‘the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time’ so try to prioritise and focus on completing the most important tasks so that you can actually cross them of the list and move forwards. Oh and don’t forget to breathe!
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
There are two quotes that spring to mind – a mantra that was taught to me several years ago is ‘I am enough’. I am not sure if it is true of all entrepreneurs, but I know it is true of many women, including myself, that we can suffer with imposter syndrome. As entrepreneurs we present ourselves as invincible, but underneath can have those self-doubts and feel as if we should be achieving and delivering more.
Another quote a very clever friend of mine said to me at a rather tricky time was that ‘it will all be alright in the end, and if it’s not all right, it is not the end.’ Successful people make more mistakes than unsuccessful people and digging deep and standing up straight can get you through most things.