Updated: Jan 21, 2020
Getting your startup off the ground is full of ups and downs. The ups are very high and the downs are pretty memorable. This "Startup life" blog is about the startup House Calls Mobile® founder and her process of getting her startup off the ground.
I equate bringing a startup to life like giving birth or starting a fire. You are trying to breath life into something and you start to see it move and come to life but then that fire gets blown out and you need to get that tinder out again and start all over. Thats how I feel getting a startup off the ground. Here is my Startup story.
I am a small town girl, I grew up in Templeton California and lived my childhood in a town of 800 people. As a small town girl my dad was a school teacher but due to being in a small town he didn't have work as a teacher so tried to make a living doing odd jobs. My family did not have money growing up so when my mom became sick with cancer it shook my family of 4 (dad, mom, sister and myself). My family decided to move to the big city, Los Angeles, for my dad to find work and so that we could be closer to medical treatment for my mom. As my mom became sick with cancer I began taking care of her, I was her nurse. When I was 15 years old my mom passed away from cancer. It was at that time that I realized I wanted to become a nurse to help others so they would not suffer as my family did. I feel that things may have been different for my family if my mom had better access to medical care and was able to get her cancer diagnosis earlier.
After my mom passed away I knew the only way I could go to nursing school was if I went on full scholarship. I worked hard and kept my grades up. After putting myself through USC for my bachelors in nursing and Yale University for my Master’s degree in nursing on full scholarship I sought out to improve access to care. I began work in a Community health center seeing up to 28 patients/day. It was at that time I realized that I physically could only see so many people with my own hands and could not make a dent in the total number of people who needed access to care. After the community health center I began work at the VA serving American war Veterans back in a Rural area of California near where I grew up. Working back in a rural area and now with advances in technology I started to notice that much of medical care could be addressed virtually through live video chat on smart phones or tablets saving the American veteran long drives into the Urban medical centers. In school they had taught us that 90% of a diagnosis is made by history (interview) and the last 10% is by physical exam. I felt that if only I could create a better way to provide a remote physical exam virtually then I could improve access to care for so many people. It was at this time that I got in touch with Cal Poly University and started working with the Biomedical students to create the ‘Virtual stethoscope/otoscope’. The stethoscope and otoscope are the two main tools in a doctor’s tool kit.
I created the ‘Virtual stethoscope/Otoscope’ with ease of use in mind. I wanted to make something that would just plug into the phone and be simple to use for both the elderly as well as young mothers who would struggle with toddlers and school aged children. I wanted to have something that didn’t need to be figured out and that worked automatically once it was plugged in using existing technology that the phone or tablet already used.
The ‘virtual stethoscope/Otoscope’ does just that. It plugs into a smartphone or tablet and automatically uses existing technology that the phone or tablet already has. The Stethoscope portion uses the earphone jack and works on the same technology that make your earphones work. The Otoscope works on the video technology that the phone already has and streams video of the inner ear. This all works using your phones existing video capability and works with any video streaming technology.
The ‘virtual stethoscope/Otoscope’ is made up of 3 main components. The first component is the stethoscope which is basically a regular stethoscope with a microphone connected to it. The next component is the Otoscope which is basically like a regular otoscope which is a doctor’s tool that looks into the ear. The only difference is the virtual otoscope has a camera attached to it so the inner ear is visualized using a camera. The 3rd component is the box which connects the two devices Otoscope and stethoscope to the phone using a phone jack. Inside the box is a circuit that filters out high and low frequency noises to prevent outside noise from disrupting the stethoscope sounds. The box also houses a rechargeable battery which the Otoscope uses for its light and the stethoscope uses for its microphone.
The invention part of a startup is the easy part. Now how do you form a company, get the device patented, FDA approved, manufactured and to market? This is my journey. Welcome to the wild ride!