Interviews

Healthcare Product Innovation for Parents and Babies

Author Agnes Scoville Published August 8, 2017
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After becoming a mother and experiencing common “mom struggles,” Agnes Scoville took her MD training and started tackling infant healthcare issues with innovative products. 

How have you deviated from your original plan? Has anything stayed the same since day 1?

My original plan was to make it easier to give medicine to babies. That has stayed the same, but I realized that there was a void in baby OTC health products. So instead of just one product, we now have a brand of products to help keep kids healthy from day 1 to grade 1.

 

Do you create goals for yourself or your team? How do you measure and define success and how far are you willing to go to succeed?

We have but one goal: sell more products. For our first 6 months of sales that meant in small independent baby stores and pharmacies. Now that we have grown, it means increase sales in the big box retailers and internationally. How far am I willing to go to succeed? I’ll work 24/7/365, but I’ll never compromise my family or my health for my company. Perhaps because I have encountered so much tragedy in my job as an ER doctor, I have a very clear hierarchy in my head of what’s important in life.

“How far am I willing to go to succeed? I’ll work 24/7/365, but I’ll never compromise my family or my health for my company.”

When you first started, where did you see your company headed? Where you see yourself and your business in 10 years? 20 years?

I thought we would license Pacidose to a larger company. But then the sales and accolades started adding up, and I realized the potential for a whole line of smarter baby health products. Now I see us growing the brand and selling to another larger infant retail company in 4-5 years.

 

How do you generate new ideas? How important is innovation in your business?

Super easy. Motherhood gave me special insight into baby health issues. Doctorhood (really, did I just say that?) gave me insight into clever ways to address those issues. My whole focus is to equip parents with tools so they can avoid a trip to the doctor or the ER. Innovation is critical to AGGIE MD. I’m not interested in slapping my label on something that’s already out there. I want to make better products.

 

How do you view strategy? Do you have some examples of tactics you use to look at the big picture and work “on” your business (vs. “in” your business)?

Strategy occurs away from the office when I am doing some physical task like exercising, yard work, or folding laundry. My brain is then able to see the big picture better. I break the company into sales, marketing, and product development. Then under those categories I have subcategories of ways to move ahead. Then I dictate notes into my phone to revisit back in the office.

 

How long do you stick with an idea before giving up? When do you know that it’s time to pivot? Can you give us an example of a dead end strategy or a time you had to pivot?

First I evaluate the need for the device. Not many infants suffer from SIDS (fortunately) so I am not focused on home monitors. I focus on the most common health problems. We’ve played around with some devices until we figured out that we couldn’t make it for less than $25. That’s my limit because I want my products to be affordable to parents of all income levels. We did quit on a home ultrasound machine for several reasons, not the least of which is that ACOG (the professional organization for OB’s) recommends only ultrasounding babies for medical reasons. There is limited data on safety of repeated exposure to ultrasound waves.

“$25 [is] my limit because I want my products to be affordable to parents of all income levels.”

Your first product, Pacidose, was inspired by your own experience as a mother trying to give medicine to your baby. I’m sure there are many healthcare products for babies that have not seen innovation in years. What other products from Aggie MD are in the pipeline?

We have 6 other products in development that address colic, rashes, and overall health. They are super cool and we’ve gotten rave previews at the baby shows. And, there’s more to come! But I have to pace myself (and our R&D budget).

 

Owning a business is a lot of hard work and comes with its fair share of difficulties. What have been your biggest rewards as a business owner and entrepreneur? How have these rewards also affected your role as a mother?

The biggest reward, by far, is receiving testimonials from parents who say Pacidose has been a huge help in giving medicine to their babies. Some of these babies have lifelong problems requiring multiple doses of medicine a day. It makes me grateful for having been able to help them. I do try to communicate this to my seven year-old daughter. It’s more important to help people than to make a buck.

“It makes me grateful for having been able to help them. I do try to communicate this to my seven year-old daughter. It’s more important to help people than to make a buck.”

You are an MD so your training and experience are all in the medical field. What business skills have you had to actively learn or work on to help Aggie MD succeed?

Ugh. Can I mention how Quickbooks still gives me palpitations? I really do not enjoy the financial aspects of the business. Fortunately, my business partner is a Quickbooks whiz kid (please don’t tell him I said that), so he’s been super helpful in guiding me on the finances.

 

You can follow Agnes and AGGIE MD on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @Pacidose and you can check out their website at aggiemdbaby.com

 

AGGIE MD creates smarter products to keep your baby healthy at home. From day 1 to grade 1, we have the solution to every common childhood illness. AGGIE MD: invented by a doctor, inspired by a daughter.

 

Agnes Scoville grew up in Richmond, Virginia and graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s of science degree in Applied Mathematics from Virginia Commonwealth University. She was a computer programmer for four years, then attended Brown Medical School and completed an emergency medicine residency at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, DC. She served four years of active duty in the US Navy, and was a combat doctor in the Iraq war.

After leaving the military, she practiced emergency medicine in Los Angeles, where she met her husband and had her daughter, who inspired her to create Scoville & Company, DBA AGGIE MD. Pacidose, the first product, was launched in June 2015 and is now in over 300 stores including Giggle, Whole Foods, Nordstrom.com, Buy Buy Baby, Babies R Us and soon Target.com. She won an Arch Grant, MESC, the Accelerate Saint Louis Bright Futures Award, the Husch-Blackwell award, InnovateHer, a national small business administration award, and a grant from the New England Pediatric Device Consortium.

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