According to IP Australia, the number of women inventors in Australia grew tenfold over the past thirty years. Many of these patent holders are entrepreneurial mothers looking to solve problems after the birth of a child. These inventions are transforming the way we live, work and interact with the world. May is the month when we celebrate mums, and I would like to share with you the stories of some great Australian mothers who are enjoying global success as inventors.
MEET JENNIFER HOLLAND, FOUNDER OF THROAT SCOPE
Jennifer Holland launched Throat Scope in 2009 after a traumatic trip to the doctors with her young son. Asked to restrain her wriggling 15-month-old boy whilst the doctor inserted a wooden probe depressor for an oral cavity examination, Jennifer thought that there had to be a better way and she started designing a new tool to do the job. Two years later Jennifer won an innovation award from the Queensland government and then three years later secured a key investor after featuring on Shark Tank. Throat Scope launched into the Australian market in late 2015 with much excitement. Growth has been accelerated and by the end of 2016 Throat Scope was available in almost 150 countries around the world. This pain-free device is being used around the world to detect a sore throat to identifying oral cancer. Jennifer has picked up many awards, and her invention has become the most used screening tool to detect oral cancer. What an incredible invention which originated in taking her sick child to the GP.
“Anyone can be an entrepreneur, you just need to believe, act and persist! Believe in yourself and your ability to achieve it, act on your idea because no one will do it for you and above all persist because Today’s No is Tomorrow’s Yes!” – Jennifer Holland, Throat Scope.
MEET EMMA LOVELL, FOUNDER OF COZIGO
Emma Lovell started CoziGo (formerly known as Fly Babee) after a year of constant long-distance travel with her first baby. Emma’s Mum was living in the UK and had been diagnosed with cancer and Emma immediately relocated but found herself making frequent trips back to Australia so Emma’s daughter could see her dad. With each trip, Emma arrived wrecked as her baby daughter failed to sleep during the flight in the bassinet because she was too stimulated. Emma took to carrying around a spare sheet on flights so she could cover the bassinet. Realising that other parents must be experiencing the same problem, Emma looked for a solution. This led to the creation of CoziGo which was initially known as Fly Babee. CoziGo is a black mesh cover which fits on top of a bassinet or pusher to block out light assisting babies and toddlers get to sleep. Emma gained great exposure on Shark Tank and secured funding and support from another Mum, Janine Allis. The CoziGo is now used by parents as a sleep tool for both flying and also in the pram. More recently, parents have used their CoziGo as a barrier against Covid19 infection whilst walking their baby.
“Bringing CoziGo to market was more challenging than I ever imagined. Taking an idea out of your mind and making it to the store is so satisfying and when I know that my product makes a difference to the lives of parents when travelling, it makes my heart sing!” – Emma Lovell, CoziGo
MEET JULIA CHRISTIE, CO-FOUNDER OF NAIL SNAIL
Julia Christie is a Gold Coast mother of three who gave up her teaching career after one too many bad experiences cutting her baby boy’s fingernails sent her in a new direction. Desperate to find something which was easy to use, fast and didn’t end with blood and tears she drew up a prototype and went searching for a suitable manufacturer. The Nail Snail was born. Whilst the initial idea was sparked back in April 2014, it took until January 2017 to receive the patent. Not deterred by limited funds, Julia and her co-founding husband, Dr Arrlann Christie, launched a Kickstarter campaign which raised more than $11,000 for their first production run of 3,000 units. Since then The Nail Snail has sold more than 6,000 units and is sold from more than twenty stockists across Australia. The Nail Snail has received a huge number of accolades from around the world including the BIG Innovation Award earlier this year.
There is a growing list of mothers inventing innovative products to make our lives better. It is imperative that Australia provides funding options and supports these women to bring their inventions to life so that they can make the impact they need to make.
“Being an entrepreneur is in equal parts terrifying and exciting beyond belief! But what are we, if we are not multitaskers, self- educators and doggedly determined. As a mum, the most challenging part is balancing the feeling of “I should be focusing on my children, or I really should be working more”. There are no set hours, no boss to report to or get guidance from. It is all you. And that can be amazing! Who would have thought that I would be the CEO of my own company and that I would be winning design awards? I am ‘just’ a mum! We live in a time now where ‘mums’ are an incredibly creative powerhouse and we are all so connected with the internet at our fingertips. The online resources available to us, like Vistaprint, fiverr and designcrowd are remarkable. You can find everything you need to at the touch of a button. Nothing can stop you. Just keep going. You will be amazed at what you can achieve.” – Julia Christie, Nail Snail
This Mother’s Day let take the time to congratulate the wonderful mothers in business who are creating amazing businesses to address real pain points many parents across the world experience. We thank you for being mothers of invention.
Katrina McCarter is the founder and CEO of Marketing to Mums, a marketing and research consultancy. She works with many Mothers of Invention taking their idea to market launch and beyond. Find out more at www.marketingtomums.com.au