Jennifer Holland embarked on her entrepreneur journey when she developed the idea for a new and improved medical device – the Throat Scope.
After experiencing a “light bulb” moment when a doctor used a wooden tongue depressor to pry open her first-born’s mouth, Ms Holland found her drive and began researching her idea to develop an alternative revolutionary tool for oral cavity examination.
What started off as a prototype costing about $1 a piece led to an estimated $15 million business in just three years.
The Sydney-based mother of four visited Macleay College this week to share her experience with entrepreneurship businesses students.
“When I set out on my journey, I knew that I had to do one thing and it was to find a technology that could compete with the wooden tongue depressor which was about two to four cents, so how do you do that?” Ms Holland told the students.
“My very first prototype was actually an LED light strapped to a piece of plastic where the light transmitted through the blade and came out the end. I made that at home. It cost me practically nothing.”
After developing the prototype, Ms Holland presented it with the aid of a visual patent designed by herself to the Queensland government biomedical board at a mentoring session in 2010.
She then seized the opportunity of becoming involved in Queensland’s grant scheme What’s Your Big Idea? in 2011, successfully winning $50,000 to go towards the continual development of the design and the next prototype of the Throat Scope.
“I went in there and I executed, and I think the main thing around how I actually pulled off getting that money and the funding from the Queensland government was that I was prepared,” Ms Holland said.
After an appearance on Channel Ten’s Shark Tank in 2015, Ms Holland put together a team of professionals to help commercialise her product.
“It was all about building a tension around the launch and making sure that we built the media’s attention, got them interested in what we were doing and tried to bring them on board,” she said.
“We are actually now distributing to 145 countries around the world. We’ve done distribution deals in Europe, Canada and hopefully the US.”
The Throat Scope has made an appearance on Sydney’s well-known television show Bondi Vet, featuring a pug with a troublesome tongue, as well as The Today Show earlier this year.
Ms Holland is now focusing on distributing the Throat Scope into a number of retail chains. – Vivien Wickham
Photo of Jennifer Holland speaking to Macleay students by Peter Moon.