Katie Jacobs Stanton
Wendy M.

Katie Jacobs Stanton & Wendy McKennon

CMO at Color. Previously at Twitter, The White House, Google & Yahoo. Head of Product and Design.

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON December 07, 2016


Hi Product Hunt! – I’m Katie Jacobs Stanton, Chief Marketing Officer at Color Genomics, and I’m also joined by Wendy McKennon, our Head of Product and Design. It’s been a great year at Color. We expanded our Color Test to cover eight of the most common hereditary cancers for both men and women, and we made the test available in more than 150 countries. This fall, we secured $45M in new funding, and we continue to partner with top cancer research teams and clinics across the country on breakthrough genetic studies. We’re growing fast and making incredible additions to our team and board of directors. Thanks for joining us! Katie & Wendy @KatieS @wendywowie
Jared Volpe
Jared Volpe@plainspace · founder - Niko https://www.getniko.com/
Hi Katie, thanks for doing this Chat! Going back to your Google Moderator days, it sounds like your experience really took your career in an awesome direction. I worked at companies that used Moderator for employee engagement and the effect of making people feel safe, like they belong, and like their voices are heard is pretty remarkable. When Moderator shut down, there was a minor disturbance in the force (in Silicon Valley at least 😉.) I was inspired by Moderator, so I built a web/Slack app called Niko (https://www.getniko.com/) that makes it easy for employees to share what is on their mind by letting them submit, vote on, and respond to questions, ideas, and suggestions. Will you share some insights from building Moderator? I’m particularly interested in getting buy-in from leaders and managers, keeping people engaged day-to-day, and scaling. Thanks again!
@plainspace Hi Jared! Thanks for the note on Google Moderator. It was such a fun product to build. I think the main way we got buy-in from our exec team was that they used the product internally for years. We built Moderator (internally known as Dory) to help prioritize questions at TGIF. It was a useful tool for Googlers and we wanted to make it more widely available to our customers. Niko sounds great - I will definitely check it out!
Austin Sandmeyer
Austin Sandmeyer@as_austin · Thinker/Student/Rockstar
Hey Katie! I'm super excited that you are doing a product hunt live discussion. I'd love to know how you see the shift in consumer perception towards more medical and health-based tech as well as where you see that go in the future. What are the largest barriers for consumers that you see in the marketplace for both these fields as well as for Color.
@as_austin This is such a great question. @Wendywowie and I were just discussing live. She has been at Color for 3 years (vs my 3 months) so I'm going to let her answer that!
Wendy M.
Wendy M.@wendywowie · Product and Design at Color
@as_austin Hey Austin - Wendy here (sorry Katie ;))! Regarding shifts in perception in the medical and health fields, I think the biggest one is people understanding they have options. Historically, all things medical have been targeted only at providers and have been full of very technical language. They've also been prohibitively expensive. Using Color as an example, the costs of sequencing are coming down so much that genetic testing should be more broadly available - not just limited to those with insurance that will cover it or who can afford to pay thousands of dollar out of pocket. It is also really important that consumers and providers without super-specific subject matter expertise can make informed decisions about using a product, and that they can understand the results and know what to do with them.
Callum Gibson Durr
Callum Gibson Durr@callum_gd · Account Manager, Bite
Hi Katie, Wendy! My question is for @Wendy – what were some of the design considerations that went into creating the Color Test packaging and experience? Were there any unique/unforeseen challenges you encountered along the way? Thanks! Callum
Wendy M.
Wendy M.@wendywowie · Product and Design at Color
@callum_gd @wendy Great question Callum! Our top priority is always providing an easy, clear experience for our clients and providers, from deciding to use the Color Test, to providing a saliva sample at home, to receiving and making use of your results. For packaging specifically, we needed to balance making the process of providing a sample fool-proof, while still true to our approachable, beautiful brand. Even small things make a difference, like the verbiage used on the packaging.
Ayrton De Craene
Ayrton De Craene@ayrton · Code @ Clearbit
How do you approach possible regulation issues that could affect color? Does this worry you?
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
Hi Katie, what are some Marketing techniques that founders often overlook? Especially for those with a limited budget, what are your top tips from your experience that founders and startup marketers should concentrate on?
Sarim Haq
Sarim Haq@sarim_haq · AI Whisperer
Hey Katie, how would you get cash-strapped 20 somethings to pay $249 for a product that might not benefit them in the near future? Would you consider to offer something extra like the service offered by 23&me to incentivize millennials to convert?
@sarim_haq Hi Sarim, Awesome question. We have partnered with a number of companies that offer the Color Test to employees including millennial-epicenters such as Snap, Instacart and Medium. This program empowers employees to be proactive about their health and it puts employers at the forefront of benefits programs. In addition, Buzzfeed just produced a video showing a number of young adults who took the Color Test and why it was so beneficial. The participants talked about the importance of taking control of their health care.
Gregg Spiridellis
Gregg Spiridellis@gregg_spiridellis
Katie -- You have had such an incredible variety of professional experiences. What are the consistent themes you have seen across Yahoo, Google, Twitter and now Color?
@jibjabceo The consistent thread is the democratization of information. At Yahoo, we built Yahoo Finance to make it easier for all investors to have access to financial information. At Google, the mission was (and remains) organizing the world's information and making it universally accessible and useful. At Twitter, we empowered people with an easy ability to create and share ideas and information instantly. And at Color, it's making genetic testing more widely accessible to people so they can develop personalized health plans with their health care providers. Color offers the most affordable, clinical-grade genetic test so people can know their risk of developing hereditary cancer. The Color Test is $249 compared to thousands of dollars from other companies. There's nothing more important than our health and I'm really proud to work at a company to help more people live longer, healthier lives based on having access to more information!
Nick Spiridellis
Nick Spiridellis@nspiridellis · CEO, RealPhoneValidation
@katies @jibjabceo Does the Color Test require a physicians prescription?
@jibjabceo I would also add that Yahoo, Google, Twitter help us organize and access information on the outside: stock quotes, search results, Tweets, maps, etc.. Color helps unlock the information *inside* of us which is the most important dataset of them all!
@nspiridellis Hi Nick! Great question. All Color Tests are ordered by a physician—either your own or an independent physician who will review your information and can order testing on your behalf.
Nick Spiridellis
Nick Spiridellis@nspiridellis · CEO, RealPhoneValidation
@katies @jibjabceo Do you see a time when Color Test will be available at your local pharmacy, mail ordered or off your website?
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
Hi Katie and Wendy, thanks for joining us today! What have been some of the biggest challenges you've had to overcome with Color and how did you overcome them?
Wendy M.
Wendy M.@wendywowie · Product and Design at Color
@ems_hodge Hey Emily - thanks for having us! Regarding challenges, I'd say the one of the biggest has been launching a product in a space that didn't exist. More specifically, genetic testing was clearly being done before Color came along. But no one was looking at it deeply from the individual consumer's perspective, and thinking about affordability, ease of use, and clarity of results. The key to overcoming this has been in talking to many healthcare providers, patients, and advocates. Through this, we identified process improvements (beyond the huge price improvement we made) that make it easier for people to learn about and utilize genetic testing. If you can create a great experience and product that provides value, and then listen to the folks using your product and make adjustments as needed, creating something new is more surmountable.
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
Quite the background! From your journey, what are some of the most important lessons you have learnt?
@bentossell Dream big, do big and act big!
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
If you had to swap lives with a tech CEO for a week, who would it be and why?
@bentossell Hi Ben, There are 3 tech CEOs I really admire. Marc Benioff and Mark Zuckerberg have both done incredible work building high impact products and investing in science and medicine. I also have profound respect for Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, CEO of Joyus and the Boardlist. Sukhinder is one of the smartest executives I know and if swapping lives for a week also means I get to raid her stylish closet, that would be amazing. :)
Andrew Ettinger
Andrew Ettinger@ettinger · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
How will Color become profitable? Is that a goal?
Narendra Rocherolle
Narendra Rocherolle@narendra · CEO, Peck, Inc.
Do you have a favorite funny moment from working at Twitter?
@narendra Hi Narendra! One of the funniest moments was when we met Mayor Boris Johnson of London in his office. He asked us if there was going to be a movie about Twitter similar to the Social Network movie about Facebook. We said we didn't know but that would be fun and perhaps this meeting could be a scene. I asked him who would play him in the movie and he paused and said, "Brad Pitt of course". (Feel free to do an image search of Mayor Boris). :)
Andy Jolls
Andy Jolls@awjolls · CMO, Survey Sampling Intl
Katie, what is your biggest marketing challenge for Color? Any businesses that you look at to model since it's a product with a premium price [vs. impulse] and it is a new category for buyers.
Ksenia Apolonskaya
Ksenia Apolonskaya@ksenia_apolonskaya
Hi Katie, hi Wendy! What a great experience you have! When was the moment you started feeling confident as Product managers? When did you start trusting your own decisions?
Alyssa@alyssatowerhill · Executive Recruiter-Towerhill Associates
Hi Katie! Thank you for spending some time with us! I'd like to pose a question to both you and Wendy. As you reflect on your personal experiences throughout your hugely influential careers- having achieved true global impact- what lights the fire inside you? What motivates you to get going each morning, and how do you define or measure "success"?
Alex McAdams
Alex McAdams@amac141
Hi Katie and Wendy! I've been thinking about both Color and 23&me, and at times it can be hard to find big differences. As you think about evolving your product over time, what do you see as the biggest differentiators between what you're offering and other competitors in the space? Alex
Wendy M.
Wendy M.@wendywowie · Product and Design at Color
@amac141 Hey Alex! The biggest underlying difference between Color and 23andme today is the technology used. Color uses Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS for short), rather than array technology. Array technologies look at specific parts of a gene at lower resolution. NGS can look at every letter of a gene’s code. When you are using genetic test results to make medical decisions, being comprehensive is important (and NGS provides that). Related, Color includes complementary services such as genetic counseling and results updates over time to, so that our clients and their providers can make the most out of their results. Over time, our biggest differentiators will come from our focus on quality, utility, and an amazing user experience. We are dedicated to providing useful, high-quality health information to everyone.
Jacqueline von Tesmar
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
How does Color make genetic testing for hereditary cancer more affordable?
Ashley Mosley
Ashley Mosley@ashmosley · Twitter
Love the Every Woman program. It seems the team added in a social impact component early on. What led to that decision and are there plans to expand the program in developing countries?
@ashmosley Hi Ashley! I'm so glad you asked this. The Every Woman Program and the potential for social impact are among the main reasons I I joined Color. While Color has made great progress in bringing the cost for hereditary cancer testing down ($249 compared to thousands of dollars), this is still expensive to many families. We wanted to make sure that anyone in need of genetic testing, regardless of their financial situation, had access. We also wanted to ensure that health care providers were involved so people who were at risk, received the follow up care that they needed. As a result, we have partnered with a number of leading cancer centers including Morehouse, UPenn, and UCSF to provide this service. Today, Color is available in 150 countries and we would love to see the EWP help more people around the world.
John Kaldor
John Kaldor@jkaldor3 · Manager, BDO
Hi Katie -- Thanks for doing this! A couple questions for you - feel free to answer any or all :) 1) Given some of the more recent focus by the FDA and regulatory authorities on health tech focused companies, has there been an effect on your marketing strategy? Do you think it has had a cooling effect on the industry? 2) You spent ~6 years at Twitter helping to grow internationally and focused on global markets -- do you think their current growth issues can be resolved? Do you think they are driven more by the product (i.e. ease of use) or by users (i.e. trust and safety issues - although this is also a product issue)? 3) How has your time with The White House and State Department influenced your time spent in tech subsequent to that experience? Are you bullish on tech innovation within government?