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An Entrepreneur's Personal Journey with Hidradenitis Suppurativa: From Chef to Medical Device CEO

My name is Suzanne Moloney and I am the founder and CEO of HidraMed Solutions. We make specialized wound dressings for people living with hidradenitis suppurativa (HS for short), a chronic skin disease. HS causes lesions and abscesses to form in delicate areas of the body such as the armpit and the groin, amongst others. These are very painful and continuously drain exudate, pus and blood. They are very difficult to manage due to the locations of the wounds. Unfortunately for people with HS, it is often misdiagnosed or overlooked and can become a very severe, disfiguring, and debilitating condition.

I have had HS since I was a young teenager and I struggled to manage my wounds. I had an idea to create a wound dressing specifically for HS, and I began to develop my idea into a product in 2013. It took me a long time to develop a prototype that I could then show to investors and start developing this idea into a real-life business. At the time I owned a bakery and had previously worked as a chef. In 2012, I opened my own bakery making cakes, sweets, and desserts. So HidraWear was my side job all the way until 2018.

The turning point was in 2018, when I was accepted onto an accelerator program called BioExel at the National University of Ireland in Galway. I learnt about the development and commercialization of a medical devices. All in all, it was a steep learning curve, but the train I received set me on the right path as I was able to launch my first product in 2019.

I created HidraWear to meet my needs as a patient but when I spoke to other people with HS, I realized that the problem was much bigger than I could have imagined.

HS has a profound impact on a person’s quality of life. It affects every part of the patient’s day. It causes chronic pain, sleep problems, poor body image, and low self-esteem. People with HS are more at risk of developing anxiety, depression, becoming isolated, and even suicide and I'm pleased to say HidraWear has been found to improve quality of life, body image, and self-esteem, as well as redu

The highest point for me so far has been launching our first product and receiving feedback from people in the real world using my invention, and hearing about the benefits it has had to their daily life. However... one of the toughest challenges to date has been launching our product in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. We had big plans for 2020 with traveling and promoting the product at different conferences and events in the UK, Europe, and North America, but we quickly realized that w

e would have to change our strategy and adapt to working remotely and conducting most of our business online.

I’m so excited for the year ahead, and to watch our product continue to improve people’s lives and continue to raise awareness of the disease and to help people recognize the signs, in order to receive an earlier diagnosis.

My best piece of advice to anyone starting out in business is to never forget your vision and why you are doing what you do.
Believe in yourself.
Take a chance on yourself.
You will overcome the challenges that are facing you.

In 2018, I was a baker. Now I run a growing company, selling into several markets. With the right support, guidance and a bit of hard work, you can achieve your goals.


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