Elizabeth Holmes is just 31 years old but commands a net worth of $4.5 billion. No woman her age is wealthier and she’s the joint 4th youngest person on the world’s billionaire list. Her story, in some ways, is a bit of the modern day billionaire cliché, as she dropped out of Stanford University during her sophomore year at just 19 years old to launch her tech business. But that’s where the similarities end.
Unlike the Zuckerbergs of the world though, Holmes didn’t dream up a new social network or mundane app, she set out to revolutionise healthcare. Spurred on by a fear of needles, her biotech company, Theranos, is single-handedly transforming lab diagnostics. Her patented invention to run 30 common lab tests with just a thumb prick of blood has carried Theranos to an approximated valuation of $9billion. The startup’s board is as distinguished as they come, including former secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz.
Displacing out-dated testing methods and the archaic need to draw vials of blood and a fully equipped laboratory to test them, Holmes is bringing affordable, convenient healthcare to the masses. Partnering with American pharmacists Walgreens to bring the tests to the entire country – although currently mainly in California and Phoenix – patients can have a test done and get the results hours later for an average of $30. She’s told USA Today: “Our work is enabling everyone, no matter how much money they have, or where they live, or what kind of insurance they have, to be able to have access to the kind of testing information that could change their lives.”
With now well over 70 possible tests available, from cocaine to cancer, a recent approval from the FDA is a huge step in getting further validity that Theranos’ methods and product is for real. With a slew of magazine covers to her name and a recipient of the prestigious 2015 Horatio Alger Award for overcoming significant personal challenges to achieve success, Holmes is quickly drawing comparisons to the likes of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. At this rate she could eclipse both.