This is Spilling the Tea, a video series where we interview diagnostics industry leaders to get their perspective on “what’s now and what’s next” in the industry.

In this episode, Invetech’s Stephen Hess is joined by Peggy Robinson, CEO of Caza Health to discuss:

  • Virtual networking and fundraising during a pandemic [0:33]
  • Trials and tribulations of being a startup and when to pivot [2:43]
  • Venture capital trends and grant opportunities post-COVID [4:28]
  • Addressing the need for better women’s health diagnostics and Caza’s focus on developing diagnostic solutions for vaginosis and spontaneous preterm births [5:42]

Watch the 10-minute video to hear about these and other trends in the diagnostic industry.


Video transcription

Stephen Hess: Hi, I’m Stephen Hess, VP of Business Development at Invetech. This is Spilling the Tea, a video series where we interview diagnostics industry leaders to get their perspective on what’s now what’s next in the industry.

Today, I’m fortunate enough to be speaking with Peggy Robinson, CEO of Caza Health. Caza Health is helping to solve unaddressed women’s health issues through better diagnostics.

Peggy, thanks so much for joining me today.

Peggy Robinson: Hi Steph. Thanks for inviting me to join you. It’s a pleasure to be here.


Virtual networking and fundraising during a pandemic

Stephen Hess: We’ve been so impacted by the pandemic this past year. What are some of the biggest aha moments you’ve had?

Peggy Robinson: If someone had told me, we had to figure out a way to raise money during a pandemic… initially, it was like trying to be a butterfly and get attention of investors when there’s killer bees coming at them.

And then it was, “how do we communicate?” If I can’t be there in person with people, how do I communicate to them?

If you think about it, virtual networking, virtual symposiums, virtual angel investor meetings have changed over this past year. And now instead of speed networking at a live conference, you can speed network on a virtual meeting. How cool is that?

And you can do it and either plop into a group and meet new people that you’ve never met before, or you can put common questions in and be in a group that has common questions to answer, or pop into certain investors’ rooms and get to meet them.

We have evolved so much in the virtual environment and how to network, that it’s just amazing.

Stephen Hess: Do you see that new style of networking continuing in 2021 and 2022?

Peggy Robinson: I don’t think it’s going to go away. I think it’s going to stay. I think people will want to see you face to face, and I think things will shift, but I also think people have gotten comfortable with it.

And so I can sit here and talk to people and do some introductions and tell them about Caza. And if they’re interested, then we can figure out a mutual time to have a further discussion.

Advice for startups during challenging times

Stephen Hess: As you think about the trials and tribulations of being a startup the past two years, what advice would you give to other startups?

Peggy Robinson: Don’t let go of that passion. Take the feedback that you get from reviewers at grants. Take the feedback you get from presenting to investors. Understand it. It helps you to put a better pitch together.

Don’t be afraid to pivot, but don’t give up your passion and your excitement because you’re the one that sees the vision.

Stephen Hess: You just mentioned pivoting – when you think about how you’ve had to pivot the last two years. What’s one area of pivoting that’s probably been the most impactful for Caza Health?

Peggy Robinson: Well, no one ever told me that we were going to have a pandemic – and so we had to do certain different things.

We qualified for a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant during the pandemic and most of the grant money that was being given out at that time was going for COVID-19 projects – as it should. But we were one of the few companies that qualified during that round. So, we focused on our grant. We’re working on that grant right now.

We also kicked off our vaginosis verification study. Dealing with patient accruals, trying to accrue patients for clinical studies, we had to understand what we needed to do to compensate for that. It wasn’t the way we originally designed it, but we did pivot. We’re adding additional PIs (Principal Investigators) to it and we’re getting those samples in. Well, a bit slower than we had planned, but they’re coming in.

Venture capital outlook and grant opportunities post-COVID

Stephen Hess: How do you see things on the venture capital side?

Peggy Robinson: There are great opportunities out there, it’s a very exciting time. I think there’s more opportunities for companies to get attention of VCs these days and to go back in and say, “Hey, this is what we’ve been doing.” And I think the VCs are actually starting to look for non-COVID opportunities.

Stephen Hess: How do you see the shifts in product development from both the VC and the grant side of things going forward?

Peggy Robinson: Caza has taken up a philosophy of trying to use non-dilutive funding to move some of our research forward, and then being able to go ahead and look for funding to really refine it and take that product over the finish line.

To date, we’ve been able to use our monies from private investors and our grant money to get a product that we can take to starting a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) study. So, we’ve been using a mix of it.

Addressing the need for better women’s health diagnostics

Stephen Hess: One of the really interesting things about Caza Health is that you’re focused on women’s health and diagnostics for that. Can you expand on what you’re doing to address women’s health?

Peggy Robinson: Caza’s really focused on diagnostics because women need better diagnostics.

As we started Caza, my business partner, Kent Murphy, and I took a look at what was going on in women’s health and there are on average 10 million cases for vaginosis. And yet, we have some molecular tests that are send-outs and in-office testing is wet-mount microscopy. So physicians are having to diagnose off the symptomatology or wet-mount microscopy, or they’re sending out a test. And if you have a vaginal infection, having to wait for your results is not something you want to do – you’d like immediate results back. And so, we have a Point of Care system that we’re using.

We also looked at spontaneous preterm birth because believe it or not, in this country, about 10 percent of preterm births are spontaneous. We spend $26 billion a year on preterm birth. About $18 billion of that is spent in the first year of a child’s life. And if we can keep that baby in utero for a couple more weeks, we can decrease the amount of life-long illness that that child could potentially have by staying in utero.

We have an assay that we’re in the process of developing for preterm birth to give a risk stratification for women and get them to have better information so they can either do something proactively or can prepare for the fact that their child may be preterm.

Stephen Hess: It’s amazing, the benefit that this diagnostic will provide for early term births. Peggy, if people want to get in touch with you or learn more about Caza, where can they find you?

Peggy Robinson: and Caza has a LinkedIn profile that you can reach out to us on too.

Stephen Hess: And finally, for 2021 – I know we’re a third of the way through – but what one word or phrase would you use to describe your outlook for this year?

Peggy Robinson: Exciting. It is really an exciting time. In a blink of an eye, we are here in April, and I think in another blink of an eye, we will be coming into the summer. It’s an exciting time for us at Caza; we’re looking forward to finishing up that vaginosis assay and getting it out there in the research market.

Stephen Hess: That’s the Tea. Peggy, thank you so much for joining me today. It’s been a pleasure, as always, getting the chance to speak with you and to hear your unique insights, I really appreciate it.

It’s great hearing how your diagnostics is going to be helping so many women out there, and the technology is a platform for other women’s health issues as well.

So, thanks Peggy for joining me.

Peggy Robinson: Thank you, Steph. Always a pleasure to talk to you.

For more information about Caza Health, visit or follow Caza Health on LinkedIn.