“Just Keep Going...” Chelsea Larsen, CEO, and Co-Founder of ParaNano Wound Care (ParaNano) shared words of encouragement to hopeful entrepreneurs about the journey from technology ideation to commercialization in an interview with OK Catalyst. True to Oklahoma and its entrepreneurial spirit, perseverance is at the heart of startup success. Over the next few months, we'll be sharing an unfiltered look at how tech startups across Oklahoma are forging ahead despite adversity. If we know one thing is true, we all have a thing or two to learn from those who came before us.
ParaNano is on a mission to revolutionize smart wound technology. The pre-clinical company aims to address a gap in the market of wound care, where patients lack access to technology that provides ongoing observation of non-healing chronic wounds between clinician visits.
ParaNano’s innovative product, the Nanosheet Biosensor solves a global problem in the treatment—the detection, notification, and early intervention of infections in chronic non-healing wounds. ParaNano is currently in the M2D2 Impact Accelerator program with UMass and Johnson & Johnson Innovation. ParaNano was recently awarded a contract with the Defense Health Agency (DHA) for a Phase I SBIR and is now preparing to publish some of its newest research.
The OK Catalyst team first met ParaNano back in 2020, joining our 8-week DoD Accelerator, ParaNano utilized resources attained from our programs to craft their recent, award-winning proposal to DHA. Meet the founders
Chelsea Larsen and Co-Founder, Maurice Haff, launched ParaNano in 2018 with the goal to develop and commercialize an advanced wound care product line called the Nanosheet™. Through the years they have worked to create a product that will revolutionize how healthcare workers treat chronic, non-healing wounds. Click the link to learn more about the entire ParaNano team.
OK Catalyst: Can you tell us about how ParaNano was born?
Chelsea Larsen: In 2017, Maurice and I were at a conference pitching our ability to create structured membranes from electrospun nanofibers with the University of Central Oklahoma's patent portfolio, looking for partnership opportunities. After the pitch, a gentleman from the University of Manitoba approached us stating that two of his researchers were working on an electrospun nanofiber wound care product and were having a problem that our well-structured membrane solved! We did about 6 months of due diligence with them and in the end, created ParaNano Wound Care which has the exclusive license to both patent portfolios.
OK Catalyst: What is one piece of advice you would share with other startups about securing funding?
"Just keep going. There are a lot more “no” than “yes”, and that is just part of the process. Take every no with the attitude of learning. Ask for comments and feedback. Be teachable. Grit your teeth and keep moving forward. That is true with all forms of funding- not just government money." - Chelsea Larsen
OK Catalyst: What has been your favorite part of your entrepreneurship journey?
Chelsea Larsen: There are so many favorites. I love learning and being an entrepreneur is like being a full-time student. There is always more to learn resulting in a continual growth as an individual and a business. I also enjoy the connections and network I have built being an entrepreneur- especially with other female founders.
OK Catalyst: What about OK Catalyst surprised you most?
Chelsea Larsen: I was not surprised by much - I had met with Tom before joining the program and knew that he and his team would be a huge asset to our grant writing process. What surprised me most about the program was how much I learned. We had submitted several SBIR & STTR proposals before joining the program- but still managed to learn a ton from the courses and the templates [OK Catalyst] provided.
OK Catalyst: What would you tell a business or startup that is considering applying for an OK Catalyst program?
Chelsea Larsen: Do it! The Ok Catalyst team is so helpful and gives a comprehensive view of how to navigate the submission platform, what to expect when preparing a proposal, and how to make the proposal competitive. We have been so pleased with all the proposals we created after going through the DOD accelerator in 2020. We still use the tools and templates acquired to create new submissions- our latest submission resulted in a contract with the DHA!
Facilitated by the SBA, America's Seed Fund, also known as, Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs provide competitive awards to innovators who are developing high-risk and deep technology innovations. These programs and the organizations that support them, are on a mission to put the United States at the forefront of innovation and support federal R&D needs, scientific innovation and economic growth.
OK Catalyst offers support to underserved and underrepresented founders in need of capital by providing best-in-class training, mentorship, and support programs. Visit okcatalyst.com to schedule a meeting with our team of SBIR Experts to see if we’re a good fit for your goals. Subscribe to our newsletter to receive updates in your inbox about SBIR/STTR funding news, community events, webinars, venture capital news, and startup success stories like this one!