Founding Stories: Peter Pacult of Avana is on a Heartfelt Mission to Transform Women’s Healthcare

Women’s healthcare has long demanded breakthroughs. A pressing concern is the challenge of abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB) and postpartum hemorrhage (PPH), which affect millions of women and their families globally. 

Guided by a commitment to safety, affordability, and accessibility, Avana is developing a groundbreaking platform for uterine health treatments. The glaring absence of a same-day walk-in treatment option for AUB and the alarming rise in maternal mortality due to PPH impel Avana's pursuit of solutions that promise not just efficacy but a transformative impact on the overall well-being of women. As the company embarks on its clinical trials, Avana's vision extends beyond innovation; it aspires to redefine the standard of care in women's health, contributing meaningfully to global health goals and reducing maternal mortality.

We asked Peter Pacult, the company’s co-founder and CEO, to share insights into his vision, journey, and predictions for the future of women’s healthcare.

How did you become interested in women's healthcare?

PP: This work is very personal. Rosy, my sister-in-law, had endometriosis and struggled with fertility. When they did get pregnant, she developed Placenta Accreta. That’s where the placenta and uterine wall fuse together, and it can lead to dangerous uterine bleeding. Unfortunately, at 24 weeks, there was a tear. Doctors had to perform a life-saving hysterectomy for her, but they could not save the twins. This was awful for our family, and it directly focused my attention on finding solutions for uterine bleeding.

What inspired you to solve a problem and co-found a company?

PP: I’m from a family of entrepreneurs. I worked in my parents’ financial investment company for 10 years. I enjoyed the work—analyzing economic megatrends, structuring financial vehicles, and helping people invest wisely—but ultimately found the work too passive. I admired innovators. I respect people who have both vision and the discipline to build.

I joined a biotech startup as their first employee, running the company’s day-to-day operations.  At one point, I was managing multi-million dollar programs, running 50-60 projects at any one time, and overseeing a team of around 16 people. I loved my team, and loved working on treatments that will benefit millions of people while having an economic upside.  

But the culture became increasingly toxic, and there was no upward mobility. Keeping people healthy is not a single solution, nor is it an end result. Like life, it’s a continuous process. How we treat people along the way is just as important as the results we seek. That’s why it’s critical to seek many perspectives, treat people with respect and an open mind, and collaborate. That’s a process that builds meaningful results. 

I co-founded Avana to ensure millions of women like Rosy have a solution that can improve their quality of life and save mothers’ lives. In fact, that’s why we chose the name Avana. It’s Sanskrit. Avana means protection, speed, and a preserver [of life and fertility]. All things we aspire to be.

As CEO, I strive to ensure we don’t just meet this objective but that we create a culture that fosters a respectful environment to build lasting results.

Tell us about your team: Who’s on it, and how did you meet?

PP: Our team is incredible because everyone has a deep commitment and deep expertise. They make work a joy.

Dr. John Morehead, my co-founder and our President/CTO, is an Obstetrician-Gynecologist (OB-GYN) of forty years. He was one of my dad’s closest friends. He reached out to me with the idea of treating abnormal uterine bleeding and postpartum hemorrhage. John explained he had treated thousands of patients, including his wife, for abnormal uterine bleeding, and he was frustrated. In forty years of practice, he’d seen very little innovation. He’s dead set on changing that.  

Michael Royals, DVM, my co-founder and our CSO, has spent 25 years working on global health challenges as a translational medicine specialist. He’s worked as a medical product development strategist and alliance manager to UN agencies, including WHO, UNICEF, as well as the Gates Foundation. I was introduced to Michael through a long-time colleague and FDA specialist who’d invested in a company where Michael was previously their CSO.  

Howard Settle, CPA, my co-founder, and our CFO, invested in the previous startup where I worked. He and John had known each other for years, too. I knew Howard by his sterling reputation as both a successful entrepreneur and passionate philanthropist. He’s built successful businesses and invested capital to launch the company.

Angela Morehead, DNP, FNP, our Research Director, is a Doctorate in Nursing Practice specializing in OBGYN. Angie and John are married and have worked together for many years.  Angie brings an incredible depth of experience as a healthcare provider and as a patient. She’s a constant advocate for women’s health and sits on the Tennessee Maternal Mortality Review Board.

I co-founded Avana to ensure millions of women like Rosy have a solution that can improve their quality of life and save mothers’ lives.

Where do you see women's healthcare, such as treatments for AUB and PPH, headed in the future?

PP: We’re on the upward swing of a J curve in women’s healthcare innovation and investment.  Recently, McKinsey/World Economic Forum, Cetenion/Roche, Silicon Valley Bank, and FemHealth Insights published reports on women’s health. They see it as a $1 Trillion untapped opportunity. Momentum has built steadily, especially over the last 10 years, and it is now starting to accelerate. Investment year-over-year is increasing; same for exits. 40% of these exits are in Avana’s domain: life sciences, pharma, and medtech.

I am on a steering committee for a joint NIH/Gates Foundation forum for women’s health. There are many unmet needs and, correspondingly, many opportunities. To that end, we published an Opportunity Roadmap report in October 2023. Avana is well poised to benefit from these broader mega-trends in women’s health. We can provide a solution for two serious unmet needs that affect over 1 billion women annually. More so, our unique approach positions us for an earlier path to exit and to market.

What does success look like to Avana in the short term and long term?

PP: Short term, we’re focused on completing our Phase 1 clinical trial in Kenya. This study will provide foundational data to support all future development, including a multinational Phase 2 study with sites in the US. This study will focus on a key white space where there is currently no FDA-approved treatment: Acute Abnormal Uterine Bleeding.

Long term, we’re excited to build meaningful relationships with strategic partners and potential acquirers. These partners will help bring our highly scalable solution to the billion women globally who can benefit from our treatment system.

Find out more about Avana at Are you a startup based in or looking to relocate to Kentucky? Keyhorse’s current quarterly investment cycle is open! Apply now.

Join Us

Are you a founder seeking capital?

Apply Now