Mum’s invention -illuminating tongue depressor – finds funding

Jennifer Holland with her illuminating tongue depressor – or Throat Scope – for kids. Picture: Ryan OslandREDHEAD ‘‘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.
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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 and doctors – 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’.’’

Jennifer Holland with her illuminating tongue depressor – or Throat Scope – for kids. Picture: Ryan Osland

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