Pioneering Markets with Disruptive Tech
Smarter GTM 04.30.2024

Pioneering Markets with Disruptive Tech

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This episode of Sunny Side Up features an interview with Jill Canada, VP of Commercial at Mendaera, about her experience creating new markets and implementing disruptive technology. Jill discusses the challenges of market creation, especially in healthcare, and emphasizes the importance of change management. She also shares insights into building effective teams, lessons from both startups and large companies, and recommendations for books and guests.

Best Moments

01:14 –  The challenges of creating new markets, especially the expense and time requirements.
05:40 –  The importance of focus and not trying to be all things to all people when starting a new market.
06:19 –  Insights on building effective teams for disruptive technology, highlighting the importance of diversity, empowerment, and a culture of experimentation.
10:01 –  The importance of change management, especially for guiding clients through workflow changes, and how it is often overlooked.
13:35 –  Jill shares lessons learned from both startups and large companies, emphasizing that leadership translates between environments.

About the guest

Jill Canada currently serves as the Vice President of Commercial at Mendaera Inc., a Silicon Valley-based healthcare technology company developing a platform that combines robotics, real-time imaging, artificial intelligence, and connectivity. Before Mendaera, Jill served as the Vice President of Corporate and Enterprise Sales and as a key member of the Executive team at Avail Medsystems where she led a dynamic team dedicated to supporting some of the healthcare sector’s largest and most influential entities.

Connect with Jill Canada

Key takeaways

  • Creating new markets takes longer and more money than expected, especially in healthcare with its regulatory complexities
  • Finding the right product-market fit and beachhead is critical for startups
  • Building a diverse, multidisciplinary team with empowerment and a culture of experimentation is important for disruptive technology
  • Change management is essential but often overlooked, especially in communicating with and guiding clients through workflow changes  
  • Experience from both startups and large companies is valuable; leadership qualities like accountability translate between environments
  • Aligning with investors and boards that understand your sector and market creation is important for startup success


“Sometimes, success is defined by what you say no to as much as what you say yes to”  -Jill Canada

Highlights from this episode

Can you speak to the challenges you faced in creating new markets, especially in healthcare?

Jill discussed several challenges of creating new markets, especially in healthcare. She emphasized that healthcare has a complex regulatory environment where early decisions have long-lasting impacts. More broadly, creating a new market is an expensive, time-consuming process that invariably requires more resources than initially planned. Additional challenges include defining the market category and naming, as well as finding the right initial product-market fit or “beachhead.” Jill also noted the importance of focus, as the temptation exists to try to serve too many audiences, when resources are best spent saying no to non-essentials in the early stages of market creation.

How do you think about building teams to implement disruptive technology knowing you have to knock it out of the park with every hire?

Jill emphasized the importance of building a strategic and thoughtful team to implement disruptive technology. She stressed the need for diversity in experiences and skills, as well as fostering collaboration and empowerment. Having representation from various disciplines like healthcare, technology, data analytics, and commercialization is critical. An environment where experimentation is accepted and failure can lead to learning is also important. Hiring the right people is key, but empowering them and creating a culture of continuous learning from successes and failures is equally important for innovation according to Jill.

What are some of the lessons you’ve learned in change management throughout your career?

Some of the key lessons Jill discussed learning about change management throughout her career include:

– Communication is fundamental, both to build initial awareness and buy-in from stakeholders.

– Resistance and barriers to change are natural and should be expected, as the status quo is difficult to change.

– Training and support are critical aspects that change management often relies on. They need to be planned for in advance.

– Progress must be monitored and the approach adapted based on feedback and results.

– Change management is not “extra credit” – it is essential, especially for new markets and disruptive technologies, to successfully guide clients through workflow changes.

What are some comparisons you would make between experiences at startups vs large organizations like GE and Roche?

While Jill found significant value in the extensive resources, training, and business lessons gained from large organizations like GE and Roche, she also appreciates certain aspects of working at startups. She noted there are more similarities between the two environments than often acknowledged. At a high level, leadership skills around accountability, vision-setting, and managing people are equally transferable. However, startups provide the benefit of direct accountability where the results of actions are immediately visible, as well as camaraderie in rapidly executing ideas from concept to market. At the same time, Jill recognized large companies teach important lessons around accountability that serve her well at startups. Overall, Jill sees the experiences as complementary rather than different, with valuable takeaways to be applied regardless of company size.

What are some takeaways or advice you would give to those trying to disrupt an existing market with new technology?

Jill emphasized the importance of having backing from investors who truly understand the sector being disrupted and have experience guiding companies through the market creation process. It’s also critical to align business objectives with investors who can provide strategic counsel. Additionally, teams should acknowledge that disrupting a market will invariably take more resources than planned. Finally, Jill stressed focusing heavily on change management from the start to help clients transition workflows successfully. This includes understanding that some level of resistance is natural and ensuring communication, training, and support are in place to guide the change process.

Resource recommendations


DeviceTalks Podcast Network (MedtechWOMEN Talks, DeviceTalks Weekly)
Fast Five Medtech News
Huberman Lab
WorkLife with Adam Grant


Heidi Seerden, President, GE Healthcare
Holly Scott, VP and Partner, The Mullings Group
Daniel Hawkins, CEO,

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