Scope for achievement after Wynnum mum wins $50,000 | The Courier Mail | 8th December 2011
A WYNNUM mother-of-three is changing the face of medical technology just by taking her baby to see a doctor.
Former accountant Jennifer Holland, 29, last week won Queensland Government’s What’s Your Big Idea? competition which included $50,000.
Her invention, the Throat Scope, is a slim-line illuminated tongue depressor which can be used by medical doctors, veterinarians and the general public.
“I took my baby to the doctors in 2008 and noticed the doctor using a wooden tongue depressor and hand-held torch,” she said. “My baby moved his head and the doctor and I found it very difficult to hold his head in place, that’s when it hit me. Why didn’t they have a one handed device with a light?”
That night, Mrs Holland spent hours sketching designs and creating a name for her idea.
Mrs Holland, who has patented her invention, said she is now on the hunt for a manufacturer and hopes to spend her $50,000 on producing and distributing the Throat Scope.
“I have more ideas and they seem to be coming thick and fast now,” she said.
Read the original article HERE
Australia’s Quirkiest Patents in 2014 | SBS | 5th January 2015
“A tongue depressor for illuminating the oral cavity, and to methods of using the tongue depressor.”
Wooden objects are commonly used to press down a tongue. This device illuminates the mouth as well, rather than medical staff using a torch in their other hand.
Read original post HERE
Throat Scope Pitch | Shark Tank Australia | Season 1 Episode 2 | Feb 2015
Business Venture Backed by Experience as a Mum | The Newcastle Herald | 23rd March 2015
BORN deaf, Jennifer Holland wore hearing aids until, aged three, her hearing inexplicably returned.
‘‘No one knows why it happened, back then the research wasn’t as advanced … but it was like a light switched on,’’ says the Dudley mum of four.
Ms Holland’s parents have health sector backgrounds and she’s always had a fascination with all things medical.
But it was a trip to the doctor’s surgery with her first child in December, 2009, where she had the ‘‘light bulb moment’’ that now looks set to pay big dividends.
Within weeks the financial accountant was designing the first prototype for what would become the now trademarked Throat Scope, an illuminated tongue depressant device that takes the heartache out of oral cavity examinations for doctors and kids and parents.
The road to developing the Throat Scope has been a relatively long one thanks to the demands of Jennifer and husband Andrew’s children, aged 1, 3, 5 and 6.
But the journey went something like this.
In 2010, Jennifer kept tinkering on a prototype, came up with a brand name, trademarked it and put down a provisional patent, then received mentoring from the bio medical board in Queensland, where her family was living at the time.
A year later she won $50,000 in the State government’s ‘‘What’s Your Big Idea Queensland’’ grants scheme, allowing her to spend another year fine-tuning the prototype, among other things.
In 2012 she had almost sealed a deal with a US firm to sell Throat Scope but it collapsed amid financial crisis.
Undeterred and by now accustomed to following nightly nursing sessions with overseas phone calls, Jennifer put an ad in a newspaper to determine other potential uses for the Throat Scope beyond the doctor’s surgery.
‘‘I discovered interest from vets, who needed a different sized blade, or tongue compressor, so that was good,’’ she says.
Her successful audition for Channel 10’s entrepreneur program Shark Tank has now taken her start-up to the next level.
While some of the expert panel of ‘‘sharks’’ didn’t bite at her pitch, tech start-up multi-millionaire Steve Baxter made a $76,000 investment offer for a 30 per cent stake, plus a 5 per cent royalties of sales up to the investment amount.
‘‘It was an amazing experience and off the back of it I’ve had interest from the UK, US and Europe,’’ says Jennifer.
‘‘We’ve also discovered other markets, with the military, aged care, vets and dentists coming forward.’’
Jennifer says Baxter remains continually involved as a mentor and the pair quickly realised to give Throat Scope the best possible chance of success, they needed further support from professionals with strong medical device industry experience.
They’ve partnered with several specialised industry consultants to drive commercialisation and Throat Scope is currently on the hunt for further capital for intellectual property and production purposes.
‘‘This is a great chance for investors to get on board an imminently international successful product in the medical device industry at ground level, ’’ says Jennifer.
With Baxter linking her to a new manufacturer based in Sydney but with production facilities in China, she’s confident she’ll be able to trim costs on the final prototype.
Chinese New Year celebrations last month delayed her production schedule so she now plans to launch mid-year.
‘‘I am hoping 2015 is the Year of the Throat Scope,’’ she says, tongue in cheek.
With her eldest two children at school and her third entering pre-school, she expects to get a lot done on the two days of the week she has ‘‘only’’ one child on her hands.
‘‘Being a mumpretreneur is not for the faint hearted,’’ she says.
‘‘The biggest challenge is constantly changing from mum mode to business mode.
‘‘I remember I sent a business email once signed with a kiss, nothing was ever mentioned but I’m sure the receiving party had a good laugh.’’
Read the original article HERE
My GP Gave Me a Business Idea | The Sydney Morning Herald | 28th May 2015
Jennifer Holland’s light-bulb moment came in a Brisbane doctor’s surgery in 2009.
Holland and her firstborn, 15-months-old at the time, were in a GP’s surgery with a case of tonsillitis.
“My son was distressed and he [the GP] said ‘look, you restrain your child, I’ll grab my wooden spatula and light and we’ll take a look’,” recounts the mother-of-four.
“I remember thinking, wow, in the 21st century this is just not good enough. I just couldn’t believe we were still using clumsy wooden spatulas and hand lights and that was my light-bulb moment.
“I had the name immediately too: the Throat Scope.”
Holland went home and told her husband about her one-hand illuminating throat depressor idea.
He suggested she check existing patents, which she did. There were many similar designs.
Read the original article HERE
Mum’s Invention Finds Funding | The Newcastle Herald | 31st August 2015
REDHEAD ‘‘mumtrepreneur’’ Jennifer Holland has wooed Brisbane multimillionaire Michael Dempsey to come on board as a major shareholder in her fledgling medical device business and is poised to reap a windfall from distribution deals.
Ms Holland invented the Throat Scope – a transparent tongue depressant that illuminates inside the mouth and takes the heartache out of oral cavity examinations for kids, parents anddoctors – after taking her youngest child to the GP in 2009.
‘‘My son had a sore throat and the doctor was trying to look in his mouth with a wooden tongue depressor and it was quite distressing having to help hold him down while they were looking,’’ she said.
After years of tinkering on a prototype, the mother-of-four pitched the Throat Scope on the Channel 10 entrepreneur program Shark Tank earlier this year.
She convinced tech start-up millionaire Steve Baxter to offer $76,000 for a 30 per cent stake in the company, plus 5 per cent of royalties of sales up to the investment amount.
Ms Holland confirmed she has successfully pitched her business to Mr Dempsey, who sold his electronic payments processing business Ezidebit to a US company for $305 million late last year.
‘‘He loves the device and the story and thinks we have a great team behind it, he was impressed and wanted to move forward and be a major shareholder,’’ said Ms Holland. ‘‘He will give us advice when he can, he’s a lovely guy.”
Until now working from home while nursing her youngest child, Ms Holland will soon move into a new office minutes from her home to give her the space she needs to develop her business, with her corporate team based in Brisbane.
She said an initial capital raising drive has secured $360,000 from private investors and last week she finalised a deal with Ebos Healthcare, one of the largest medical distributors in Australia and New Zealand.
The initial Ebos deal will see 200,000 Throat Scope blades distributed to GPs, hospitals and aged care facilities, as well as 2000 starter packs.
Ms Holland said this month her company will pitch to Walgreens, the largest pharmacy chain in the US, alongside the second biggest operator, CVS Group.
‘‘There are also lots of other discussions going on with distributors overseas but nothing I can confirm yet,’’ she said.
The Throat Scope is being manufactured by a Sydney supplier in China, from where the product will be shipped to Ms Holland’s office for national distribution, as well as Hong Kong for US shipping orders.
Ms Holland said the last few months had been ‘‘unreal’’ though she hadn’t had time to stop and think about the fine details.
“I haven’t had a moment to myself,” she said.
‘‘The deals take forever, you agree on something and then weeks later you confirm because the contracts are going back and forth, it does take a toll on you, you think ‘when will it end’.’’
Read the original article HERE
Throat Scope Product Design | Design100 | 5th October 2015
Medical Equipment Invention Designed to Assist Parents | ABC News | 19th October 2015
A Lake Macquarie woman says a trip to the family GP with her sick child led to an invention that she hopes will modernise mouth examinations around the world.
Jennifer Holland from Redhead has created an illuminated tongue depressor, that she has called Throat Scope.
She used a $50,000 Queensland Government grant, as well as a stint on a reality television show, to get her project off the ground.
Ms Holland said the idea came to her in 2009.
“I took my 15-month-old child to the doctors,” she said.
“The doctor was trying to restrain my child, I was helping him, he was using a wooden tongue depressor in one hand and a hand-held torch in the other, and he was trying to open his mouth.
“That was my light bulb moment.
“So I started looking at different designs and realised we could use simple LEDs to shine through plastic that would light up inside the mouth.”
Ms Holland said the first shipment arrived this month, after six years of an entrepreneurial rollercoaster ride.
“One minute things are going really well, and then the next minute you’ve hit a road block and you have to try and find a way through,” she said.
“But, we’re here now, and wanting to see this device in every hospital, and doctors surgery, and every home – that’s my goal.
“I want to make life easier for mums and dads.
“They can use it for all sorts of things – checking for a sore throat, checking for an ulcer, helping you apply ulcer cream, pulling something out of your child’s mouth, like playdough, which I do a lot.”
Read the original article HERE
Throat Scope | Optus Small Business, Big Ups | November 2015
Throat Scope Inventor & Mum Jennifer Holland Strikes Global Deal | The Newcastle Herald | 18th April 2016
Mother-of-four Jennifer Holland has struck a global distribution deal for her medical invention Throat Scope that she estimates is worth $15 million over three years.
But after seven years in the making, reality has not set in.
“I’ve been travelling all around the world but then I’ll have the kids at my feet and think ‘wow, the company has gone global but I’m still just a mum,” she laughs.
The Throat Scope, a transparent tongue depressant that illuminates inside the mouth and takes the stress out of oral examinations for kids, parents and doctors, has secured a worldwide distribution deal that will see it retailed in 140 countries.
The company signed an agreement with GIMA Italy, Europe’s largest medical distributor, and Paris Labs in Canada, and will be picked up by the health care sector (hospitals, surgeries) and retail (pharmacies).
It follows Throat Scope’s coup last year in securing a distribution deal with EBOS Healthcare in Australia and Zealand, and investment from Brisbane multimillionaire Michael Dempsey.
The company is poised to launch a fresh capital raising bid to fund its planned expansion into the US market.
The European deals were sealed after two of Throat Scope’s directors attended Medica, one of the largest medical trade shows in the world, wearing the illuminated Throat Scope devices around their necks.
“People were just drawn to them,” Ms Holland said.
Her light-bulb moment came in 2009, when her one-year-old son had a sore throat and was upset when a GP tried to look inside his mouth with the standard wooden tongue depressant.
She tinkered on a prototype for Throat Scope – which parents can use and tends to intrigue rather than spook kids with its light – before pitching it on Channel 10’s Shark Tank. She convinced tech start-up millionaire Steve Baxter to offer $76,000 for a 30 per cent slice in the company plus 5 per cent royalties of sales up to the investment amount.
Ms Holland, whose children are all aged under seven and whose husband is a FIFO worker, has invested $150,000 into the product.
Read the original article HERE
Throat Scope Appearance | Bondi Vet | Season 8 Episode 2 | 4th May 2016
How Jennifer Holland Turned an Idea into a Multimillion Dollar Business | Smart Company | 6th May 2016
It has been 12 months since Jennifer Holland appeared on Channel Ten’s Shark Tank to pitch her light-up tongue depressors.
“It was a very scary and nerve-wrecking experience,” Holland tells SmartCompany.
“But it was the number one best moment for the business.”
During the episode, Holland presented her patented Throat Scope device, an illuminating LED-lit tongue depressor with a disposable blade, which can be used by medical professionals or parents to easily examine the mouth and throat.
Following a dramatic Shark Tank stare-down, investor Steve Baxter injected $76,000 into Throat Scope in return for a 30% stake in the company and a 5% royalty till the money is paid back.
Taking Baxter’s advice, Holland decided to grow her team, bringing in Throat Scope’s own corporate director David Toomey and commercialisation director Charles Cornish.
“Dave has run all of our capital raising,” she says.
“Charles has helped with all the distribution deals all over the world.”
The team raised $360,000 on a pre-sale valuation of $2 million, got the product to market and have sealed major deals with some of the largest healthcare, wholesale and pharmacy distributors in Australia, New Zealand, Europe and Canada.
Holland says they will soon be making more exciting announcements about US distributors.
These deals have the potential to take Throat Scope to more than 100 countries around the world.
To drive them further, Holland and her team are undertaking another $1 million capital raise to help them launch across Europe and the US.
“We’ve got our distribution deals done, now it’s a matter of doing a marketing deal,” she says.
A large part of Throat Scope’s success has come from Holland staying alert to new opportunities and seizing every one that would help her get it out there, she says.
“When I first started the [application] process I didn’t know it was for Shark Tank at all,” she says.
“I saw an ad on TV and thought I’ll give it a go.”
Putting her soul, heart and business on the line, Holland appeared before millions of viewers with one wish: to get an investor.
At the time, Holland and her partner had backed Throat Scope with their entire family savings of $150,000.
“I don’t know how I would have reacted if I didn’t get a deal,” she says.
Preparing for Shark Tank
Going on Shark Tank is a rigorous process and you will be asked every question under the sun to determine whether the venture you’re working on is legitimate, she says.
“You really need to be completely over-prepared,” she says.
Before the show, Holland wrote down every question that could be asked and went through every scenario that could happen.
“I watched a lot of Shark Tank US episodes and I think that really prepared me,” she says.
When she went before the sharks, Holland felt she had a robust understanding of the business and its numbers.
“If you don’t know your figures, go and get financial help,” she says.
“They’re the most important things.”
Finding an investor that cares
Holland says getting Baxter onboard has been truly valuable for the development of Throat Scope.
“Whenever I need a second opinion or anything I know that Steve’s on the other end of the phone or email,” she says.
This has been crucial for Holland.
“You’ve got to find investors that actually believe in your product,” she says.
“You can find people anywhere who have money.”
Learning to start a business
Holland, a former accountant and first-time business owner, says she had no idea how to grow a venture when she started.
“But people can research anything [online], you can find out information on how to take an idea and turn it into a reality,” she says.
Embarking on a massive learning curve, she started building Throat Scope, seizing every opportunity to drive it further.
In 2011, she applied for the Queensland Government’s ‘What’s your big idea?’ competition and won $50,000, which helped her get her prototype to the next stage.
Very early on, Holland also made sure she got her intellectual property in place and started building her device from there.
“Provisional patents and trademarks are crucial,” she says.
Holland spent three years building Throat Scope and getting out a prototype before entering Shark Tank.
“It took a couple of years to develop it because along the process I had three children and now I have four children!” she says.
The light-bulb moment that started it all
The idea to create Throat Scope hit Holland during a standard GP visit.
“I actually took my 15 month old son into the doctors who was suffering with a sore throat and the doctor, while he was a holding a light in one hand and a wooden depressor in the other, asked me to restrain my child,” she says.
It was an unpleasant experience, one that would affect all her children.
“I thought surely there must be something else,” she says.
But there wasn’t.
When Holland went home and looked it up on Google she discovered the only other patented depressors had fibreoptic cable running through the blade making them too expensive compared to a wooden depressor.
A month later, she founded Throat Scope and so began the journey to Holland’s first business.
“For me it has always been about believe, act, persist – believe in yourself and believe in your ability to achieve it,” she says.
“Don’t stop, you are going to get knockbacks [but] the faster you get back up the quicker you’ll find your next opportunity.”
Read the original article HERE
Throat Scope Road Test | The Australian | 7th May 2016
Throat Scope? What’s that? It’s a scope for peering down throats.
That’s helpful. Keep going. This clever Aussie invention is touted as an “all-in-one light and tongue depressor”: tiny LEDs in the handle light up the clear plastic shaft. No more juggling with a torch and a wooden craft stick to look into a kid’s gob. It’s a blessing for clinicians and parents.
Why parents? Wobbly teeth, sore throats, prison-style shake-downs for smuggled lollies. You know the drill.
Pros? A) It’s a one-handed operation, so your other hand is free for tasks such as taking clinical notes, or pouring a glass of wine; B) It’s great for finding things that have slipped down the back of the sofa; and C) It looks like a tiny lightsaber. Who knew oral cavity examinations could be so much fun?
Read the original article HERE
Mother of Invention | The Newcastle Herald | 10th June 2016
FOR a split second, Jennifer Holland looks like a toddler caught with its hand in the lolly jar.
“I took my children to a Play School concert once and I thought ‘I would love this, being a kids’ entertainer, I love creating and doing arts and crafts with my kids.”
The flash of guilt on the Redhead mum’s face stems from the fact she knows she has way too much on her plate to contemplate shenanigans with Big Ted and Jemima.
Holland’s primary role and greatest joy is that of loving mother, chef, taxi and Mrs Fix It to her four children, aged 8, 6, 5 and 2, her task made tougher when her marine engineer husband Andrew works inter-state.
Her second passion, and growing priority, is Throat Scope, the oral cavity examination medical device she invented seven years ago that has, after a roller-coaster of business and personal events, secured a global distribution deal that will net the business and Holland’s star investor backers at least $15 million over the next couple of years.
“It’s not organic, you have to drive it,” Holland says of her success as she lunches at a cafe near her Redhead office. “I don’t have time to smell the roses, I am always go, go, go. Maybe in five years I might say ‘ok, I’ll have a holiday’.”
Holland’s first brush with the medical world was for all the wrong reasons, yet it – and her parents’ occupations – would lead to her confidence as a medical “mumpreneur”.
She was a baby when her mother, Eileen, a child and family health nurse, twigged that her daughter didn’t flinch at the sound of clashing as she rummaged in the saucepan drawer.
“Mum took me straight to the doctor’s and they did lots of tests and realised I was deaf,” she says, explaining that the cause was never determined due to the lack of technological nous at the time.
Holland wore listening aids and spent two years with speech pathologists before her hearing inexplicably returned at the age of two, and she soon grew accustomed to frequenting medical rooms thanks to the work of her nurse mum and father, Ralph Watson, a former CEO of Catholic Care of the Aged.
Fast forward to 16 and the “fiercely independent” Holland, the middle child of three children, had left home and was poised to start Year 11 at St Francis Xavier’s College in Newcastle when she convinced her folks to let her complete school at TAFE.
“I just wanted to get it done ASAP,” she says of the move, which shortened her final years of study.
Enrolled at the University of Newcastle, Holland soon flipped law for accounting, later working as an assistant financial accountant for various companies.
In her early 20s – she is now 34 – she had a myriad of start-up ideas she canvassed with her husband and friends.
“Some [ideas] Jen would research then found out they have been done already, others she has had but not followed through with have become multi-million-dollar products,” confirms Andrew Holland.
Her turn would come in 2009, when she took then 15-month old son Ronan to the GP with suspected tonsillitis.
Heavily pregnant, Holland was asked to hold her son on her lap as the GP took the standard wooden tongue depressor, like a Paddle Pop stick, in one hand to examine the inside of Ronan’s mouth, while holding a torch in the other hand.
“It was a big struggle, I was more or less restraining Ronan, and I just looked around the doctor’s office and I realised there were so many new products they use every day so why didn’t they have anything better for this,” Holland recalls.
“I hopped in the car and grabbed my phone and Googled things like ‘illumination of the throat’ and ‘one hand’ and there was nothing there.”
It took a long time for Holland to develop Throat Scope, a transparent, all-in-one light and tongue depressor that removes the stress of an oral cavity examination for kids, GPs and parents – as she added to her brood.
“My main focus was being a full-time mum, my second was developing this product and reaching out to companies to see if they would partner, but because I was in such early stages they weren’t,” she says.
Within two years of working after her kids went to bed she had provisional patents, trademarks and her business name: “It came straight to me …Certain things just fall into place and the ones that don’t aren’t meant to be”.
In 2010, the Holland family was living in Brisbane when she presented her idea to the Queensland Government biomedical board.
“They said it was the best idea they had seen in 12 months and it just gave me the confidence I needed, I thought ‘this could be something big, I’ll keep going’, she says.
She entered Throat Scope in a State Government innovation grants round and won $50,000, ploughing the booty into product development.
I thought ‘this could be something big, I’ll keep going’.
Things looked up when a US medical company showed interest in partnering, but the ramifications of the GFC saw it cuts its innovation budget.
“It was gutting but you get the knockdowns,” Holland says. “The thing is you can’t take it personally, you may get a no today but tomorrow might bring the yes you need.”
When Andrew Holland’s job saw the family relocate to Perth, Jennifer kept beavering away at the lengthy patent authorisation in Australia and the US and developing her website.
Back in Newcastle in 2013, the couple’s fourth child, Isabella, was born as more investors were biting, but when Holland fell ill and delayed in signing the contract, the interest dried up.
“Business moves quite quickly and you have to jump on when things are hot, so I missed that opportunity but my priority has always been my family,” she says.
Fate would intervene, though Holland may wish the circumstances were different.
In May, 2014, she put a dab of peanut butter on a biscuit for Isabella, then eight months, to try for the first time, only to watch in horror as her baby suffered an anaphylactic reaction.
“The biscuit touched her lip and she just exploded, her whole mouth was swollen up to her mouth, I put her in the car and drove her to hospital, which was a mistake,” Holland says, chastising herself for not waiting for an ambulance.
Isabella recovered but during her treatment Holland again watched with dread as three medical staff held her baby down to use a wooden tongue depressor to examine her mouth.
“The staff were just doing their job, but I just thought, ‘I have a product that could change this situation’, it kicked me into action,” she says.
Weeks later she saw a TV ad to compete in Channel Ten’s entrepreneurial program Shark Tank, giving her a one-off chance for financial backing.
And not a moment too soon.
“I needed an investor because we had run out of money, my husband and I had put $150,000 into it, it was everything we had, patents cost a lot of money and I didn’t want to risk any more,” she says.
Holland had spent hours researching the US version of Shark Tank, working out to the dollar and per centage what she would take if she was offered a deal and how much equity she would relinquish.
But moments before being thrust before a panel of three potential investors, or “sharks”, and rows of TV cameras, she lost momentum, thrown by a request to not say the name of her product during filming, due to editing requirements.
It was her eldest son Ronan, he who set the whole Throat Scope journey rolling and stood beside her during her first televised pitch, who came to her rescue.
“He just said to me ‘mum, you look after four of us every day, this is easy’,” she smiles, “and I thought ‘right, I’ve got nothing to lose’…I didn’t notice the cameras, the nerves just vanished and I pitched my heart out.”
Tech start-up multimillionaire Steve Baxter offered her $76,000 for a 30 per cent stake in the company, and five per cent of royalties to that sum.
“I decided to invest because Jennifer’s idea solved a problem, was easy to understand and was scale-able,” Baxter says, adding that Holland is “passionate, focused and driven” and has “successfully executed her goals with the support of a good team”.
Holland’s A-team includes corporate director David Toomey and commercial director Charles Cornish, who helped woo Brisbane multimillionaire Michael Dempsey to become a major shareholder.
In its first capital raise last year, Throat Scope netted $360,000 from private investors before securing a distribution deal with Ebos Healthcare, one of the largest medical distributors in Australia and New Zealand.
The best was to come: the company recently signed a distribution deal with Gima Italy, Europe’s largest medical distributor, and Paris Labs in Canada, which will see Throat Scope used in hospitals and surgeries and sold in pharmacies in 140 countries.
Holland won’t be drawn on the value of the deals, only saying the GIMA Italy and Paris Lab partnerships were worth about $15 million over three years.
Another capital raise to fund the company’s push into Europe and the US is underway and she says she wants to retain 51 per cent ownership of the company (at present she holds 60 per cent).
Holland has designed accessories for Throat Scope and is already moving further, developing prototypes for new products – inspired by her brood’s medical experiences – that she hopes will hit the market sooner than later.
“The [new] products can assist doctors with their diagnosis and are also designed for in-home use, giving parents the ability to examine kids themselves,” she says, choosing her words carefully.
Lunch aside, Holland speaks quickly of her goals to have Throat Scope in every corner of the world – “we are well on our way!” – and the importance of consistency in building the brand.
She admits her personal life consists of taking her kids to play dates but her eyes light up when she explains how she wants parents to use her product, and kids to “enjoy” a visit to the doctor.
And then, her chair scrapes back and she’s off, scurrying like any harried, working parent to school pick-up, a self-made multi-millionaire in our midst.