Our start-up of the week is Coroflo, which is developing the world’s first accurate breastfeeding monitor.
Dublin-based Coroflo has developed and patented a revolutionary nipple shield and app that aids mothers in the breastfeeding process.
The company was recently named winner of the Dublin leg of the Virgin Media Business Voom Tour.
‘As baby feeds, quantity is measured accurately and precisely’
– ROSEANNE LONGMORE
“‘The Coro’ is a revolutionary product, which will allow mothers to know exactly how much milk their baby is getting,” explained Coroflo CEO Roseanne Longmore.
“The Coro gives accurate, precise and real-time data of milk flow, which can be tracked on mum’s phone via the app.”
“Coroflo’s target market is pregnant women planning to breastfeed and mothers who are currently breastfeeding,” Longmore said. “The World Health Organisation recommends babies to be exclusively breastfed to six months.”
Longmore said that internationally, up to 60pc of mothers who give up breastfeeding cite not knowing how much milk their baby is getting as the main reason.
“Even when women are given lactation support and education, some remain concerned or curious as to how much their baby is getting. Our target market is the cohort of women who would have potentially continued to breastfeed to the six-month mark had they access to accurate information about how much milk their baby was getting.”
“My background is in financial services so making the leap into the world of start-ups has been very exciting and challenging,” Longmore said.
CTO Jamie Travers is an engineer and Helen Barry is a doctor and the chief medical officer.
“Jamie and Helen invented and developed the Coro technology out of their personal experience, having had a very tiny baby of their own and experiencing the anxiety and stress of not knowing how much milk their baby was getting.
The Coro takes the form of a standard silicone shield, which holds Coroflo’s patented technology: a tiny micro-flow sensor that is embedded within it.
“Most types of flow sensors are physically bulky, but ours is specifically designed to be small enough for mother and baby to maintain close contact. As baby feeds, quantity is measured accurately and precisely,” Longmore explained.
“The shield is completely self-contained so there is no need for wires or chargers.”
As the Coro measures feed instantly and in real-time it relays data via Bluetooth Smart, which mothers can track on their phone via the app.
“The app gives feed information around quantity, duration and volume over previous days or weeks. Our cloud-based analytics can show you how your feeds have varied over time and how they compare with babies of a similar age.”
“Our vision probably best sums up our ultimate goal: success for every woman who wants to breastfeed.”
Longmore said that Coroflo’s momentum is continuing and has been given an added boost after winning the Dublin leg of Voom.
“We’ve had interest from various sectors including breastfeeding groups, universities, hospitals as well as potential distributors.
“We are looking to attract investment in the coming months and are keen to identify investors who we can partner with, who understand our market and what our product can achieve globally.”
Testing the market
Longmore said that testing has been a challenge as it is difficult to test a product that has no precursor.
“Given that there is currently no accurate way of measuring feeding, we have had to employ high-precision industrial flow meters to compare on a bench setup.
“We would like to follow this up with customer testing in a medical environment but again this requires equipment not generally available to maternity hospitals. In a similar vein, applying for FDA approval is more complicated as there is no ‘substantially equivalent’ product to base the application on.”
The start-up scene
Being completely new to the start-up scene, Longmore and her colleagues are impressed with the supports available.
“Coroflo is based in Dogpatch Labs. Communities like Dogpatch provide a professional forum for mentoring, networking as well as general accessibility to the start-up ecosystem.
“Ultimately, it’s within these hubs that start-ups can learn, gather information and hustle in a competitive yet engaging environment.”
Her advice to fellow founders thinking of starting up is to just go for it.
“Ireland has always punched above its weight in terms of successful tech start-ups but at the moment, there is definitely a movement of sorts, there are so many communities, supports, public funding and investment available.”