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After Struggling For a Health Diagnosis, This Mom of Two Launches Children’s Health Platform to Help Parents Get Answers



Sehreen is a mom of two girls, former technologist and co-founder of Sleuth, a children’s health platform. She was inspired to begin building Sleuth after struggling to get answers for her daughter’s health condition. Sehreen spent many nights scouring Internet forums for any clue that might help, figuring out on her own exactly which specialists her daughter needed to see and eventually even had to quit her job in order to figure out her daughter’s condition. Sleuth centers parents as the experts in their child’s health and helps to share these insights between parents of similar children. 

What was the inspiration for your company?

The inspiration for the company was my own struggle finding answers for my daughter’s health issues. I had to quit my job just to figure out what specialists she needed to see and what intervention would help. I’d regularly spend until 3am scouring internet forums, searching for any clue that’d help me figure out what to do next. I am one of so many mothers who had to give up their career in order to navigate the health and medical systems.

What is your background & how has it helped you build your company?

My background is in finding markets and building relationships; I’m a former public servant/diplomat and business development leader. My first career stint was at the State Department where I worked on how best to work with foreign audiences on behalf of the U.S. government. That included designing education, cultural, and innovation programs and traveling on ‘listening tours’ with officials from The White House. Listening is a key skill when it comes to early stage product building because you use that insight to develop the very early features. When I moved into edtech, I ran business development and worked on how best to sell to parents. Selling things like SAT products and education information wasn’t straightforward because they seem more like a need-to-have rather than a joy-to-have. All of these experience help me understand where the market we want to serve is.

What is unique about your products?

What I love about our product is that it centers the unique experience of a parent who has managed their child’s health. Parents spend hours figuring out how best to support their children; the expertise they accumulate is meaningful. And it’s often very impactful for another parent on a similar journey. I quit my job to figure out my daughter’s condition — I’d love it if another parent got to benefit from my hard-earned time and effort. It makes me feel like I have meaning and value to add to someone else. I also benefited from the wealth of information of other parents who have been on this journey longer. Sleuth is the marriage of crowdsourcing with the impact of data science. We convert parents’ experience into insight and data that is hard to find elsewhere. We connect the dots between a child’s treatment and daily routine, for example, with their health.

Once you had the idea, what were the first few steps you took to launch it?

I joined a startup incubator in Brooklyn at a tech innovation center called New Lab. There, I met my co-founder, Alex Leeds. I came with the passion of a problem and a market. We spoke to dozens of other parents and the stories all sounded the same (late diagnosis, Dr. Google was bad, other parents helped unlock critical info. Alex saw the vision of a product that could help and we hit the ground running.

What drives you?

The number one driver for me is that there are other families who are stressed from a lack of information. It literally HAS to be better. It’s so obvious to us that thoughtful technology has a place in children’s health and I won’t give up until we attempt this solution.

What is the most valuable lesson you've learned so far as an entrepreneur?

The most valuable lesson I’ve learned over the past year is that there’s space for me and this vision I have for the world. I dealt with a lot of imposter syndrome in the beginning, but now I see that I can still work on this and that I have a perspective that can have impact.

What are the best & hardest parts of being a parent and a founder?

The best part: working on something that I could easily dedicate my life to and modeling what passion/work is for my kids. The hardest: I literally feel like there’s not enough of me to go around.

How do you "balance" motherhood/parenthood and entrepreneurship?

I look at balance as something that can be achieve over a week, not a day. So a workout might not happen today, but as long as I get my goal in within a longer period, I try not to beat myself up.

Any final advice you'd like to share?

For anyone thinking about starting their own business, I highly recommend plugging into existing communities and ecosystems of other founders. The relationships I’ve built from those are invaluable. It can feel lonely to build a business sometimes but there are so many resources to help founders keep going.

Sehreen NoorAli

Co-Founder & Co-CEO

Sleuth

Sehreen is a mom and former technologist who started building a children’s health platform after struggling to get answers for her daughter’s condition. Sleuth centers the expertise of parents in their child’s health and shares insights between parents of similar children. Equity and inclusion are core values she holds, and she started her career as a civil servant with the U.S. Department of State. In 2015, she received SXSWedu’s first ever Change Maker of the Year Award for her equity-focused network, EdTechWomxn. She lives in NYC and is the proud mother of two little girls. She loves connecting with other parents on IG @sehreennoorali and @hellosleuth.