When Jennifer Holland was 38 weeks pregnant with her second child, she took her 15 month old to the doctor.
As little Ronan sat squirming in her lap, the doctor struggled to prise her son’s mouth open with a wooden tongue compressor in an attempt to shine a light down his throat.
The exchange got the stay at home mother-of-four thinking, and today Mrs Holland is the founder of a $15 million business called Throat Scope.
A throat scope is an all-in-one device that combines a disposable blade with a torch.
The instrument is designed to replace a standard wooden tongue compressor and torch – which require the use of two hands instead of one.
Despite having no medical background, 33-year-old Mrs Holland, who lives in Newcastle Australia and was previously a financial accountant, started to do some research online and that led her to create the first prototype of what would later become the Throat Scope.
‘The very first prototype was a piece of plastic – polycarbonate plastic – that I had lying around the house and a LED torch,’ Mrs Holland said.
‘I realised that the light transmitted through the plastic and I could produce a product that was very price-competitive with the wooden tongue compressor.’
Additionally, the device means that doctors have a free hand to hold a squirming child if they need to, she said.
The end result is the Throat Scope: a torch with a disposable blade that is placed inside the mouth.
In 2014, Mrs Holland appeared on the entrepreneurial television series Shark Tank to pitch her idea.
Before walking out to meet the ‘sharks’, Mrs Holland said her nerves started to get the better of her, but her six-year-old son stepped in and said: ‘Mum you look after four of us every day, you can do this’.
‘It gave me the confidence,’ she said and the Throat Scope became the only pre-sales idea on that season of the series to land a deal.
After her success on the show, Mrs Holland put together a team and started commercialising the Throat Scope.
The product retails for 30 cents, making it a competitive alternative for the wooden tongue compressor that retails for four cents.
Throat Scope launched in 2015 and is estimated to be worth $15 million deal following a deal with medical distributor GIMA Italy that will launch the products in 140 different countries.
The product has also launched in Canada and is available in Chemmart pharmacies in Australia.
A Newcastle doctor also took Throat Scopes on a trip to Papua New Guinea.
Mrs Holland said the device was just as useful for parents at home as it was for hospitals or the local doctor.
She said she was reminded about the advantages of the device when her youngest daughter, two-year-old Isabella, was taken to hospital after the anaphylactic toddler smeared peanut butter on her face.
‘I watched while two nurses were holding her down as the doctor was trying to open her mouth, it was the same situation,’ she said.
At home, the device can be used for new teeth, to look at a sore throat for strep throat and even for ulcers.
‘Being a mum has given me all the foundations for the skills I needed in business,’ she added.
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