A native of Ireland, Julie Moylan parlayed her Biomedical Engineering degree into a position with a very large medical device company only to find it wasn’t a good fit. Exploring entrepreneurship, she discovered the University of Notre Dame’s ESTEEM Program. The hands-on Master of Science in entrepreneurship appealed to her. Moylan pivoted her life, heading for South Bend.
Eager to learn, Moylan also became a startup associate at the Notre Dame IDEA Center. The program, which pairs students with faculty entrepreneurs with technology to commercialize, is funded by the donor-supported Innovation Gold Fund. In October 2021, Moylan was paired with SOTERIA Flooring, an early-stage startup with a novel safety floor. The technology was invented by Notre Dame mechanical and aerospace engineering professor, Tim Ovaert, PhD.
“SOTERIA is unique in that the company was initially founded nearly nine years ago. Its product, a safety subflooring designed to absorb 50 percent of impacts and initially targeted at hospitals and nursing homes with patients at high risk of falls, had previously been installed across the United States. I was charged with rebuilding the company from scratch in terms of generating product availability, identifying target markets, and addressing the business strategy,” Moylan explains.
She fearlessly dove into engaging with past customers to learn about the product’s performance and their experience with it. “My goal was to leverage relationships and the installations as testimonials to the product, its performance, and durability.”
At the same time Moylan was gathering valuable market insights and evaluating the best markets for SOTERIA’s novel impact-adsorbing subflooring, she also led efforts to reverse engineer the original SOTERIA product to determine the best materials and processes for manufacturing, set up supply chains, and developed the company’s sales and marketing strategy.
Now CEO of SOTERIA, Moylan says the startup associate program pushed her out of her comfort zone. “This experience has prompted me to take initiative and learn how to figure things out. It has introduced me to the ups and downs of the startup world. I’ve really enjoyed being part of a program where other associates and founders are in the same boat and everyone is willing to help.”
As of April, the SOTERIA team is a semi-finalist in Notre Dame’s McCloskey New Venture Competition. At the same time, Moylan is busy securing a manufacturing partner to provide a prototype supply of subflooring for biomechanical testing. Additionally, she is working with paid beta partners on development and installation of the updated product. All in a day’s work for a startup CEO.
An important lesson learned through her journey is to remain open all conversations and opportunities that come your way. Says Moylan, “It’s important to remain eager to learn. People see that and are usually super willing to help, guide, and connect you to get where you need to go.”