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Qudo is an innovative business delivering specific solutions for colic and persistent crying, supporting babies, parents and their families. Based on scientific research, the Qudo team develops simple and accessible products to help young families experience the best start in life.
The SETsquared Surrey team spoke to Qudo’s CEO, Nicky Bateman about the journey so far, the upcoming launch and the business’ next steps in 2023.
Tell us about Qudo and your journey so far
The Qudo Soother has been created from a need for an effective solution to colic and persistent crying. Our first product launches in early 2023 following around 12 years of R&D. The journey has taken time because I was determined not to saddle future investors with debt – I wanted to achieve proof of concept and was working full time to earn funds to invest in the business. I realised that developing an innovation with young babies is a very hard thing to do, particularly when it comes to user research. Step by step, the way unfolded, with inevitable twists and turns along the way, but there have been so many inspiring and moving moments, mostly led by the babies and parents who have tried the prototypes over the years.
The very first baby ever to try a prototype sucked on it and immediately fell fast asleep. Mum wanted to take it home! One of the Dads said they couldn’t have managed without one. Every Qudo life story, experience and emotion, is memorable. These experiences are the bedrock on which Qudo has been built. Our ambition knows no limits and we plan to rapidly scale up and deliver our solution worldwide – the Qudo Soother is no dummy!
What inspired you to help babies and parents with the Soother?
As an experienced Craniosacral Therapist/Chiropractor I have treated many adults, children, and babies for over twenty years. Treating young babies suffering from colic and discomfort resulting in persistent crying, I discovered from parents that available colic solutions didn’t really work. My inspiration came when considering why my treatments were effective where available solutions were failing, and how I could make a solution accessible to all. Understanding that all babies like to suck on a finger and knowing that tension release in the palate can relieve strains in a baby’s cranium, I found a way to mimic part of this treatment in the form of a soother. The result: the Qudo Soother – an effective solution designed scientifically with a unique teat. Its specific density, angle and shape gently rest on a baby’s upper palate, relieving strains on a baby’s cranium, reducing tension and relieving discomfort in otherwise healthy babies suffering from pain, discomfort and colic.
The independent University of Surrey study showed incredible results. 73% of the babies could use the Soother. Of these, 100% experienced relief from pain and discomfort. This reduced crying times, gave deeper and longer sleep, improved feeding patterns and general well-being. Further research and testing have proved this innovation improves the cranial rhythm and settles uncomfortable babies, reducing crying and discomfort.
It’s a win-win for the babies and their parents. Helping babies to feel more comfortable and helping their systems work effectively is a big part of being a Chiropractor and Craniosacral Therapist. Having a baby persistently crying causes much stress for parents and infants, a contributing factor to postnatal depression in parents, causing isolation and lack of confidence. The Qudo Soother can help alleviate discomfort and crying, which has a positive knock-on effect for the whole family.
Which innovation grants have you achieved and how have they helped you to develop and get the soother to market?
Qudo has received two UK Edge Innovate grants to support R&D for the Soother and Qudo Product 2. This includes funding from the SIGHT programme at the University of Portsmouth for IP costs.
What have been the key highlights and challenges of 2022?
There have been many highlights in 2022, including a successful Crowdcube fundraising campaign, finessing of packaging and marketing collateral, sourcing a fantastic UK manufacturer and future-proofing our IP. We have joined forces with a recognised baby product retailer and a fulfilment house to provide excellent customer service. We are now excited to be in the development process for Product 2.
Who has helped Qudo along the way?
A number of key supporters, whose expertise and advice have been invaluable, alongside committed early investors who wholeheartedly took risks and believed in what we were doing.
Qudo has a small team with key advisors instrumental in the development of the business and brand. The Financial Director, Business Advisor, Marketing Advisor, and Comms & Ops Advisor have helped the business get where it is today. We also have great agency support. We pride ourselves on using local businesses, from IT support to photographers.
How has being a SETsquared member helped when developing the business?
When I began the commercial plan for the QudoTM Soother I didn’t have a team around and it was very beneficial to discuss my challenges and ask for support, insight and help from the SETsquared Surrey team. I really enjoyed attending seminars, learning about new topics, networking and getting views and knowledge from the SETsquared advisors whether on legal or other matters. Sole entrepreneurship is a challenging but rewarding journey and I gained confidence from the knowledge and help. The support was given at a crucial time to help me run a clinical study for the soother under the guidance of the Maternal and Health Department at the University of Surrey and the direct feedback and results from that piece of work completely convinced me and others that my idea worked and was reproducible outside of a clinic environment. This was the trigger for me to take that leap of faith and fully focus on raising capital and launching the product.
I enjoyed the challenge and preparation for investment pitches – delivering a five-minute pitch to convey your whole business idea is quite a stretch! All at a time when we had to rapidly adapt to the restrictions of the pandemic and make those pitches online, a different experience when you can’t see your audience face to face. I am grateful to have met many inspiring business owners and mentors.
Can you give details of the launch?
Qudo Soother launches at the start of 2023 with online adverts and social media campaigns along with in-person events. We’re selling directly to our customers from our website and will extend our sales channels as the year progresses.
What are your plans and hopes for QudoTM in 2023?
2023 is set to be an exciting year, starting with the launch Qudo Soother to help babies and families struggling with persistent crying and colic. We are planning in-person Baby Hub events, to share useful information and build a community. We will have guest health professionals, for example, a registered Health Visitor, to give parents time to ask questions and support their journeys. We are working on Product 2 development, another science-driven, innovative product for young babies.
We will be looking to fundraise for expansion and further science-driven products and services.
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