Problem: The anatomy of the female pelvic region makes women particularly susceptible to inappropriate urethral catheterization. To date, there are no devices that block the vaginal entrance, expose the urethral opening, and guide the catheter.
Solution: Sonia Rocha-Sanchez and Michael Feloney have designed and obtained a full non-provisional patent on a female catheterization assisting device that blocks the vaginal entrance, exposes the urethral opening, and guides the catheter into the female urethra.
The device, called SimplCath, was the focus of the winning presentation at the Nebraska InnovateHER 2017 Challenge hosted by The Center for Rural Affairs’ Rural Enterprise Assistance Project (REAP) Women’s Business Center.
Sonia and Michael are owners of F&S Medical Solutions, a start-up company, with a primary goal of improving the lives of women and men by offering new approaches to solving old problems.
“Because women's products are a significant part of what we do, entering InnovateHER seemed like the perfect course to follow,” Sonia said. “SimplCath, the device we used in the competition, is an incredibly novel but simple medical device designed specifically for women, which, when brought to market, will improve the lives of millions.”
SimplCath can be used by medical personnel and caregivers, as well as patients who self-catheterize. It comes as a disposable item to be used in hospitals, nursing homes, or clinical environments, and as a reusable device to be used at home.
“It is the only device on the market to assist on women catheterization in any setting,” Sonia said. “When we won, we felt validated that the judges believed in our product and most importantly we felt honored for representing Nebraska.”
The duo of Sonia and Michael was among three finalists who participated in InnovateHER, a marketing pitch competition, in Lincoln, Nebraska, on June 2. This is the third year of competition in cooperation with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
InnovateHER calls on businesses which develop a product or service that 1) has a measurable impact on the lives of women and families; 2) has the potential for commercialization; and 3) fills a need in the marketplace.
“InnovateHER provides an opportunity for participants to gain valuable input and feedback on their innovative business ideas even if they are not selected to move forward to national competition,” said Monica Braun, REAP Women’s Business Center director.
The winner’s application was entered into the national competition, which is a second marketing pitch event. SBA officials will identify 10 finalists to compete for cash prizes totaling $70,000.
Other finalists competing in Lincoln were Kate White with Third Space Coworking and Childcare and Carina Glover of Ace Empire, a business magazine. All three businesses are based in Omaha.
“The competition felt a little like ‘Shark Tank,’ but friendlier,” said Sonia. “The judges were very professional and asked excellent questions. Their comments after the presentation were very positive and their critique was very well-taken. We could tell they knew business a lot more than we did.”
Sonia added, “We would like to thank you for promoting such a unique competition, supporting women health, and providing opportunities for small business such as ours.”