Meet the Founders – CEO Allisa Song
Meet Allisa Song. Seafood connoisseur. Mom to three bunnies and two dogs. Snowboarding and dancing enthusiast. Guinea pig foster mom. Keyboard player. Aspiring cow and homestead farm owner. Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine medical student. CEO of Nanodropper.
From the four co-founders to the new hires, Nanodropper is excited to introduce you to its growing team in the coming weeks and months as we expand to meet your eye health needs. Read on to learn all about CEO Allisa Song!
Allisa is a serial entrepreneur and inventor with a background in Clean Tech, neuroscience, and harm reduction. In addition to her proven track record of successful fundraising, she has led her teams to dozens of business and design awards, including her most recent USPTO Collegiate Inventor medal awarded by the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
Born in Seoul, South Korea, Allisa and her family immigrated to the U.S. in 2001. Since then, she has lived in Canada, Oklahoma, and California. However, she has spent most of her adult life in Seattle, WA, which is where she received both her Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science from the University of Washington. She graduated with a dual degree in Psychology Honors and Biology.
After graduating in 2015 and working full-time in a research lab for three years, Allisa decided to switch paths and pursue her MD.
“It was my work with the People’s Harm Reduction Alliance that really solidified that I needed to be on the clinical side of things,” Allisa says. “It was incredibly rewarding to influence positive change in my community, and I realized becoming a physician was a way to facilitate healthcare reform systemically. I think this is also why I fell in love with entrepreneurship; using team building and innovation to transform our world within my lifetime.”
Her love for research and innovation has only grown. She is a peer-reviewed author in neuroscience, pharmacology, and genetics. Currently, she is conducting glaucoma and oculoplastics research at Mayo Clinic.
Finding Time to Build a Company and Solve a Problem
Somehow, between receiving her bachelors, pursuing her MD, participating in various interest groups, conducting research, and volunteering at various local animal shelters, Allisa has found time to also start and run a successful business — Nanodropper.
“Through all these experiences I’ve developed a mindfulness of my time. I’ve learned to prioritize and manage my time so I don’t get easily distracted at any given moment. It’s helpful to have an amazing team I can rely on — there’s something to be said about having teammates you can count on, trust, and have 100 percent confidence in,” Allisa says. “I’m grateful to be surrounded by such amazing and talented people who support making my craziest dreams possible.”
In October 2017, Allisa’s biggest dream began to take shape. After reading an article from NPR titled “Drug Companies Make Eyedrops Too Big, and You Pay for the Waste”, Allisa began to envision a simple, patient-centered solution to a global problem. An eyedrop adaptor.
The problem? Current eyedrop bottles dispense about five times the liquid an eye can absorb. This even includes over-the-counter drops like Visine, as well as prescription drops. It’s no wonder that 25 percent of patients run out of medication before their next refill.
And here’s the kicker — prescribed eyedrop medications can cost up to $500 per bottle. Virtually no insurance company foots that entire bill. This is causing you, the eyedrop user, to spend even more money out-of-pocket. If you can’t afford to do that, the doctor’s orders are out the window and your eye health suffers. Take it from Allisa — she knows firsthand.
“Up until I finished college, health insurance, doctors appointments, and financial help were all luxuries. Paying for everything on my own, I realized I often had to make a decision about what things I could pay for. Including my healthcare.” Allisa says. “I had an experience where I could have lost my vision a few years ago. I needed to see an ophthalmologist and pay for expensive medications and ended up paying out-of-pocket. Vision is our primary sense, so the thought of losing that was terrifying. I had to make a hard sacrifice then, in order to maybe prevent losing my sight. People shouldn’t have to choose between their sight or if they make rent that month.”
This experience motivated Allisa to help those who also might consider healthcare a luxury because of their finances. Nanodropper is a tool to help people in tough financial situations regain some power over their healthcare.
Cultivating an Idea
On the same day she read the NPR article, Allisa approached Elias Baker, who was working as an industry mechanical engineer, with a design idea to solve the problem. Together they began to sketch out potential prototypes on a whiteboard, and Nanodropper was born.
By December 2017, Allisa had gathered a team of talented students to develop and bring the idea to life.
“Allisa is truly the visionary behind Nanodropper,” says Mackenzie Andrews, Nanodropper’s Chief Commercialization Officer. “She has an unwavering mission and has guided our team from the start of a little project at the UW campus to developing a product on the cusp of helping countless people in our healthcare system.”
Fast-forward to 2020, and the Nanodropper team has won multiple competitions, incorporated, produced our first batch of adaptors, partnered with ophthalmologists and clinics, and are selling a quality product they are proud of.
“I am so proud of how far Nanodropper has come.” Allisa says. “Each member of the team has put in countless hours to produce an amazing product to reduce cost and increase access for eyedrop users.”
Click here to learn how the Nanodropper delivers you value-based care, one drop at a time. It’s time to take back control of your eye health.