By: Hunter Mylek
Who is Ashlea Souffrou?
Ashlea Souffrou is the President and founder of SxanPro. With 16 years in the Medical Device industry, she started at Stryker and made the decision to start her own company in 2019. In the past 3 years, she has created new technology that has modernized how information on medical devices is captured.
Ashlea is a West Michigan native, graduating from Rockford High School and then receiving her BA from Western Michigan University. She currently lives in Grand Rapids with her husband and three sons. Ashlea comes from an entrepreneurial background, there are currently five members of Ashlea’s family that also are business owners in the Grand Rapids area.
Ashlea loves to travel. She has been to forty-three states, twelve countries and four continents. Every year she challenges herself to one new experience. She has done things like skydive, white water raft the Upper Gulley, hike along sides of mountains and walk through a pyramid in Egypt. This year’s goal was achieved when Ashlea was awarded a patent for SxanPro’s technology, becoming part of the 4% of patent owners who are women.
What is SxanPro?
SxanPro is a mobile app that scans the manufacturer barcode on medical devices and supplies to capture product information including expiration date, lot number and manufacturer. This data is then used to help hospitals, medical device companies, and retailers make decisions about inventory they have that may be surplus or expiring.
How has SxanPro Changed the medical industry?
What makes SxanPro different is that we give healthcare supply chain access to 3 million products with an app on their phone. The FDA mandated in 2015 that every medical device is required to have a barcode on it which is affiliated to more than ten standard product information data points. Unfortunately, hospitals don’t have an easy way to extract that data and utilize it without having an expensive inventory management system. Also in this barcode is the expiration date and lot number. By knowing the expiration date, hospitals can determine if they have a surplus of supplies that will go unused and work with SxanPro to re-allocate those supplies to where they can get used before they expire. With our tool we are able to help hospitals solve a problem that they’ve always had but just lacked the technology and resources to solve.
What inspired you to create this business?
I spent years in and out of hospitals across the country as a medical device sales rep and saw huge quantities of supplies thrown out because they had expired just sitting on the shelves. All of this waste was just going into landfills and I knew there had to be a better, sustainable solution. After asking the question “why” to supply chain leaders the answer always came back to manual processes and lack of technology. No one seemed to have a grasp on how to stay ahead of this problem so I thought if I can create an easy to use solution with a device that we all carry in our pocket, this could have big impact on healthcare supply chain. The SxanPro mobile app has created a tool to help inventory and supply chain managers make proactive decisions instead of reactive decisions concerning supplies that are on their shelves.
How did you become so successful in this difficult field?
I’ve been so fortunate to have created great relationships from my years working in the medical device industry. There have been so many people; hospital supply chain partners to competitors to old colleagues, that have supported each career change that led me to starting SxanPro. I wouldn’t have made it this far without the encouragement of my husband who supports me through the long hours and the long days-
I have also been told “no” “can’t” and “won’t” a lot. Being told no creates humility and determination, which transfers into confidence. This confidence has empowered me to take chances on myself over the last 15 years. All of this has combined to give me the self-assurance to build a company that is disrupting the medical supply chain industry, saving health care systems money, improving patient safety, and reducing medical waste from landfills.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
The best advice I could give any aspiring entrepreneur is to call the most successful person you have access to, in the industry that you want to start a business in, and take that person to lunch. Then, call ten more people and share your idea and vision. The more people you have to work through and develop your idea before you launch, the more prepared you will be to ensure the success of the business. As an entrepreneur you must lean on a network of people to guide you through seasons of growth. The very first person I called to share my idea for SxanPro lived across the country, and barely knew me at the time. Two years later he has become a trusted advisor, as well as an investor in SxanPro. In hindsight, it was one of the most important calls I have ever made. Putting yourself out there, learning as much as you can about an industry, and continuing to push forward even when I heard “no” is what led SxanPro to become the company it is today.
To learn more about SxanPro click the link here