Updated: May 28
Global IT consultant. ER nurse. Business owner. These labels aptly apply to Jessica Bussert. However, the best description for her: lifesaver. One night in the ER with an Afghanistan war veteran changed everything. Now Bussert is fighting against an injury affecting 2.5 million Americans every year at a cost
of $10 billion. It’s a battle she intends to win.
Bussert founded Wave Therapeutics to combat the debilitating effects of pressure ulcers, also known as bedsores. She developed a patent pending Wave cushion that delivers therapy for preventing pressure ulcers and blood clots.
Her device offers a solution largely missing from the long-term care market and it’s built to save thousands of lives every year.
What is Wave Therapeutics and why did you start the company?
Each year more than 60,000 Americans lose their lives to bedsores and related complications. Wave Therapeutics was founded for one reason: we want to eliminate suffering and death caused by avoidable bedsores.
What life experiences led you to start Wave Therapeutics?
While working as an emergency room nurse, I saw the bedsore problem firsthand in the most awful way. One evening I received a new patient near death due to sepsis. The patient was a veteran who lost his legs to an IED in Afghanistan. He now was confined to an ill-fitting wheelchair. He had the worst bedsores I’ve ever seen, and the sepsis was a direct result. While he awaited transfer to the intensive care unit, we spoke about his condition. He shared that his doctor prescribed a $4,000 automated wheelchair cushion for treating bedsores. The cushion was not covered by insurance, so he couldn’t afford it. After that night, I resolved to create a better, more affordable solution for preventing and healing bedsores.
Bedsores, unfortunately, are not a new problem. What was unique about you that led to the creation of a novel solution for this very important problem?
Nursing isn’t my first career. Until my early 40’s I worked in global information technology and have a high technical competency as a result. I’ve always been a problem solver, maker, builder, fixer type of person. I think the unique combination of my healthcare knowledge and technical skills allowed me to look at the bedsore problem from a different perspective.
Where do you see Wave Therapeutics in one year? In five years?
In one year, we’ll be firmly into our clinical studies and preparing to enter the market. In five years, we’ll be the market leader with the best solution for bedsores.
Businesses in the health and medical science sectors typically are capital intensive. How are you overcoming this challenge?
There is a lot a person can accomplish on a shoestring budget if you have sufficient passion. Having a 3D printer for prototyping helps and my 401(k) has provided necessary upfront funding. I’m happy to report we recently closed a substantial funding seed round that allowed us to expand our staff and accelerate product development.
There is a lot a person can accomplish on a shoestring budget if you have sufficient passion.
What’s been your biggest “aha moment” with Wave Therapeutics?
Chances and Divine intervention can happen anywhere, at any time, if you are open to them. I was awake at 3 a.m. stressed and anxious about a problem I needed to solve. I didn’t have a clue how to proceed and then the inspiration and insight for overcoming the challenge came to me. I’m a big believer in (and recipient of) miracles. I received exactly what I needed to move forward.
Your background is fascinating – it seems you were destined to become an entrepreneur. What have you learned along the way that is helping Wave Therapeutics succeed?
I’ve been blessed, but my blessings mostly come from perseverance (or maybe stubbornness). This drives me forward despite the challenges. I believe you only really, truly fail when you give up on yourself.
I’m also off-the-charts ADD. Some people call this a disorder and try to medicate it from existence. I prefer to call it “Another Discovery Daily.” My diverse collection of interests and experiences come together when I’m solving a difficult problem.
They help me find solutions others might not consider.
I believe you only really, truly fail when you give up on yourself.
I also strongly believe every child should participate in some kind of business education. I was in Junior Achievement for many years during my early schooling. It fostered my excitement about business and entrepreneurialism.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received as an entrepreneur? What’s the best piece of advice you can give other entrepreneurs?
Do not think you can do it all on your own. Starting a business of any size is just too difficult and time consuming to handle on your own.
Wonderfully, there are numerous free resources available to start-ups. Learn about the federal SCORE program that pairs retired business leaders with founders and new business owners. It’s a great program and I attribute many of my early successes to the advice I received from my SCORE mentors. Other resources are local, state, and national business accelerators, university business schools, and various state agencies that foster successful business activity.
Do you ever struggle with a fear of failure or crisis of confidence? How do you overcome these feelings when the stakes are so high for a life-saving product like yours?
As a person who suffers from lifelong anxiety and depression, I deal with these feelings every day of my life. Fear can crush even the best ideas. I’m also a trans woman living in a world that is indifferent to us at its best and hostile to us at its worst. To combat these challenges, I try to pray often for help and guidance. I also surround myself with good and positive people. Finally, it helps to be all in. It’s make-or-break time for me and my spouse, so we have no other choice than to succeed.
How has The Startup Ladies helped your entrepreneurial journey?
I’m new to the organization, but what I’ve experienced so far makes me wish that I had joined much sooner. The Startup Ladies are a group of amazing women of all stripes and those who support them. They are experienced, driven, motivated, excited, and more than willing to lend a hand to fellow members. I’m honored that the group believes in me and my project enough to support me in all the various ways they have.
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