There’s nothing that says you need to come from a certain field or background in order to become an entrepreneur, and my latest podcast guest is proof of that. Dr. Agnes Scoville, the creator of the Pacidose, spoke with me recently about how her 15 years of experience as an ER doctor and recent motherhood led to her invention.
The Problem: Getting Babies to Take Their Medicine
Having worked in the ER, she watched as sick and cranky babies refused to take their medicine through the hard, plastic syringe parents and doctors poked into their mouths. In addition, she found that up to 50% of babies were getting the wrong dose of medication when it was actually being administered. Parents would mix the medicine into food or drink and, if the baby didn’t finish it, they were left wondering what to do since they couldn’t tell how much was ingested.
“I’ve always been the kind of person who tries to figure out a better way to do things that are less painful for patients,” Dr. Scoville explained. She then gave birth to a daughter in 2010 whom she began to experience those same issues with. That’s when the idea for the Pacidose came along.
“I’ve always been the kind of person who tries to figure out a better way to do things that are less painful for patients.”
Dr. Scoville went to the store and bought a pacifier. She drilled a hole in the back of it and then superglued an angiocath from the hospital inside it. Finally, she attached a syringe to the catheter and voila! She had her first prototype; it was a rough prototype, but it nevertheless got the job done as she was able to test it out—with great success—on her kid as well as a few others.
If you want to hear more about Dr. Scoville’s entrepreneurial journey from ER doctor to baby product inventor, don’t miss this podcast.
The Solution: The Pacidose
While Dr. Scoville has definitely encountered some shortcuts to getting her product out the door and into the hands of consumers, it’s not like the journey has been totally bump-less either. One of those such bumps happened during the manufacturing process.
Because Dr. Scoville relied on her husband, who worked in manufacturing, to get her the connections to a factory in China, she didn’t have any outside insights into what more the manufacturers could do for her product aside from mass production. This, according to Dr. Scoville, is where sourcing companies come in handy.
The mistake she made, in turn, was that she did not rely on the factory’s engineers to design her first prototype. “Those guys are way smarter than I am,” she said after revealing that her first designs had mistakes in them.
“Those guys are way smarter than I am.”
But once she had a viable product in hand (400, to be exact), she set out to get a proof of concept. She put up a small website for the Pacidose, created a Facebook page, and then listed it on Amazon.
“I’m a self-doubter. As a doctor, I’m always questioning what I do, so I was fully expecting negative feedback.” However, that’s not at all what she experienced. In fact, the positive comments from Amazon customers—who helped her sell out of her first batch—ended up revealing how much “peace and satisfaction and comfort” she was bringing to people with her pacifier solution.
“I’m a self-doubter. As a doctor, I’m always questioning what I do, so I was fully expecting negative feedback.”
In addition to having a product that was so well-received, Dr. Scoville resolved to provide the very best in customer service. Any issues with the product were promptly addressed and a replacement one sent out right away.
Dr. Scoville’s Unique Path to Success
After Dr. Scoville’s proof of concept worked, she set out to raise money so she could move onto the production of the next 25,000 units. She applied to numerous grants and startup business competitions and won four of them—three locally in St. Louis and one internationally—that provided her business with $80,000 in much-needed cash.
In yet another way that Dr. Scoville has chosen to blaze her own path to success, she sold her product to small retailers. “We took a map and we targeted every independent pharmacy and baby store all across the country,” she said. “We figured that they’re going to be the centers of their own little baby community, and they’re going to talk to their friends and families.”
“We took a map and we targeted every independent pharmacy and baby store all across the country. We figured that they’re going to be the centers of their own little baby community, and they’re going to talk to their friends and families.”
Her sales tactic worked as she found that the small, independent retailers wanted cool, new products that customers wouldn’t be able to find in big retail stores. She’s now launched her own brand “Aggie MD”, with Pacidose serving as the flagship product. She has more products coming through the pipeline very soon—aiming to target infants through first-graders—so keep your eyes peeled.