Maternova Research Papers

Highlights:

  • Stylish apparel line that protects from Zika and other viruses

  • Made of innovative fabric with nanotechnology

  • Globally known brand for expertise in maternal and newborn health

  • Established cash flow-positive business

As seen in:

The world is not safe for women

Insect borne illnesses: Zika, Lyme, malaria, dengue, Chikungunya, etc., pose serious health threats for moms and babies. They spread quickly across the US and Latin America and trigger public health alerts.

Among significantly affected countries are USA, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and over 100 more.​ The effects of these viruses can be quite severe for pregnant women and their babies, with microcephaly as one consequence of Zika.

Current preventive solutions like mosquito repellents have proven to be ineffective. Research by our partner clinic in El Salvador (run by Americares) has documented that women avoid wearing skin based repellents because they smell bad and are expensive.

Our study found that only 89% of women are not comfortable applying repellent directly to their skin. Vaccines, bed nets, community spraying and mosquito traps are not enough.

Women need an inexpensive way to protect themselves from Zika as they move about during the day. ​This is especially critical for countries without a sophisticated medical system.

Introducing NovaVeil – a line of protective apparel by Maternova, incorporating stylish design and nanotechnology

A labor of love between Maternova, Inc. and a renowned Brazilian designer Alessandra Gold, NovaVeil is the first line of stylish protective apparel that allows women to feel empowered and confident, knowing that they are protecting themselves beautifully.

NovaVeil is using a patented nanotechnology-enhanced textile that repels the mosquitoes that carry viruses, This textile allows us to manufacture stylish but affordable garments that women can wear during the day to protect themselves against the Zika virus.​​

NovaVeil line:

We use the world's best scientific minds alongside the ideal creative partner to develop original and innovative solutions.

Each detail is crafted specifically for impacted climates and consider the habits of the mosquitoes – they bite in the day and they especially like dark colors – so the designs feature a lighter calming palette.

Maternity dress

First ever dress designed to appeal across cultures, expand to fit a growing belly and imbued with nanotech repellent

  • Thoughtfully constructed for women of all sizes and heights

  • Interior dress comes with simple cinching ties

  • Ruched hem adjusters for full or mid length options

Cardigan

  • lightweight elongated cardigan

  • includes a hood to protect the head and hair

  • sleeves that extend over most of the hand for maximum coverage and protection.

Scarf

  • Lightweight breathable scarf

  • able to cover the head or the lap

  • can cover an infant bassinet or an infant nursing with mother

Leggings

  • Light colored leggings

  • Protect the lower half of the body and ankles, an area of particular interest to the virus carrying mosquitos.

​​

Chemicals used by pregnant women must be safe for the mother and for the fetus. NovaVeil is protecting women using a special fabric that does not result in the absorption of repellent chemicals into the skin.


The Environmental Protection Agency reviews clinical and environmental data to ensure consumer protection. By using a chemical already approved by the EPA we 1) ensure that it is safe and 2) save years of approval and testing.

By ensuring a long life for a maternity garment and other pieces, we bring down the average cost per day of protection significantly.


According to studies, skin-based repellents are avoided because of odor. By providing an odorless solution in the form of apparel, we increase the chances that women will use it and be protected.​​

Skin-based repellents are a hassle and are quite costly. NovaVeil makes protection from mosquitos effortless – wearing clothing is easier than applying repellent every few hours.

Mosquitos in some countries, including Puerto Rico, have evolved to be able to resist permethrin – this widely recommended insecticide is simply not effective in many areas.

Nanotechnology processes allow the insect repellent to be bound to textile fibers at the molecular level. It is this process which gives the textile its long life through many washings.

A patented technology enables us to offer something that is exclusively our own. It can not be copied and allows us, with our partners, to maintain quality control.

And.. stylish.

Maternova considers style as a part of dignity. Women should be able to protect themselves and their babies while still looking stunning.

We’ve partnered with Alessandra Gold - the fashion designer behind the NovaVeil line.

Born in Brazil and headquartered in Miami, Alessandra knows how to design for women and is 100% committed to creative approaches to protecting women.

  • trained at Fashion Institute of Technology, New York

  • named as this year's top 10 Miami designer

  • named one of 8 Latin American designers to watch by Glamour magazine

  • designs featured in Sports Illustrated, Nylon, and Vogue

​​

Solution for the whole world

Retail line for established markets

We will sell the NovaVeil line at retail prices so that higher-income women have access to stylish apparel that protects against Zika. Doctors and midwives will sell products through their clinics, governments will buy product in bulk, and individuals will buy retail so that the average woman in Europe, the U.S. and Brazil can be protected.

Subsidized line for lower-income women at risk

Part of the proceeds from the retail line will be used to subsidize a line of protective apparel for low-income women in the countries hardest hit by viruses. Humanitarian organizations will be able to purchase in bulk for distribution for displaced populations at risk of mosquito borne illness.

​​

About Maternova, Inc.

Maternova, Inc is a globally recognized women’s health solutions company. We’re the purveyors of hope and innovation: our mission is to improve the quality of life for women and newborns everywhere by accelerating access to life-saving technologies. We create health-enhancing solutions that young women will want to integrate into everyday life.

​​

We have the right pieces in place to launch NovaVeil  

We already distribute medical technologies around the world. We work with governments, hospitals, humanitarian organizations and clinicians. In other words, we have the customers and the distribution system in place.

A trusted brand

Maternova negotiates exclusive distribution agreements with innovators and entrepreneurs as well as corporates. We use a series of product screens to select life-saving innovations, and the innovators work with us because of our reach and reputation.​




A proven, working business model​​

A 15,000-strong provider network

Through our self-built mailing list and social media, we reach over 15,000 frontline providers and procurement agencies who equip them. This network allows us to 'take the pulse' of the needs of clinicians, and to test and validate innovations rapidly.

Existing products portfolio

Survival Duos: one of Maternova’s products on the market:​

See more products at maternova.net​​.

Happy customers & partners

Mentions in major press outlets

Hear the recent piece on BBC​.

Support by grants and experts

Maternova’s protective apparel concept is supported by some of the leading experts on global health and Zika. Maternova is part of an elite cohort of innovators cultivated by CAMtech and Massachusetts General Hospital. This cohort is advised by Dr. Michael Callahan, a top authority on Zika and head of the Zika Foundation. We are also supported with a seed grant from Grand Challenges Canada.

We're in the growing medical device market​

​What your investment will fund

  • Develop final prototypes for the protective apparel

  • Research demand for a full anti-Zika kit (apparel, repellent, bednets, etc)

  • Work with pattern maker to create patterns

  • Place order with the manufacturer

  • Launch marketing campaign

  • Deliver first run of the finished garments

​​

Where we are now

Within two months of developing the NovaVeil idea we have done the following:

  • sourced the patented textile

  • partnered with a talented fashion designer from Brazil

  • produced the first run of maternity t-shirts for testing

  • designed four initial maternity pieces for the NovaVeil line

  • set up a partnership with a clinic in El Salvador (Americares)

  • designed a user testing tool

  • received requests from around the world,  

  • Got early validation from the independent technical review teams in May 2016 from CAMtech, Mass General Hospital's Zika awards

​​

Why we want you to join us

We want investors who are mothers, fathers, grandparents and daughters.

We need passionate people who understand that to protect women, to reduce the number of women dying in childbirth and to improve the health of adolescent girls, we need innovative, pioneering business models.

We believe it’s a great time to be a woman. We are so excited to connect with your at the moment when innovation is desperately needed. 

Meg Wirth and Allyson Cote, founders of Maternova.

Maternal health is a concern the world over, especially in developing nations. Childbirth can be a precarious process; for some women and their infants it can be life-threatening.

According to the World Health Organization, 800 women die every day during childbirth, with 99 percent of those deaths taking place in the developing world. There are medical tools, often times inexpensive ones, that make a drastic difference in these outcomes.

However, these can be difficult to obtain and ship, and this is exactly where social enterprise startup Maternova has made—and continues to make—inspirational strides.

Maternova is an online marketplace for low-cost but vital obstetric tools; you might think of it as something like Amazon for childbirth-related medical supplies. The business model is innovative and unique, and the business itself serves as a fantastic “how to” example for entrepreneurs looking to start a social, mission-driven business. I was fortunate enough to speak with co-founder Allyson Cote, and hear the Maternova story, as well as some of its exciting plans for the future.

Allyson met her co-founder Meg Wirth in 2012 when Wirth was working as a consultant for groups like the Rockefeller Foundation and the United Nations. She was initially drawn to Wirth’s passion for the cause of maternal health, but she also came to see that the two of them were well-matched for a business partnership because their skill sets were so complementary. While Meg was deeply involved in the nuance of the maternal health crisis worldwide, Allyson had in-depth experience building successful startup companies.

“It was her commitment that really tipped the scales to make me say, ‘Yes, I’m coming with you,’ but I also wanted to do something that had more of a social impact than what I had done previously. I think that you can create a business, and you can run a profitable organization, but you can also be socially conscious and do good at the same time,” Allyson says. She and Meg formed Maternova and set out to doing just that.

As can be imagined, tackling a global, public health problem through social enterprise is not just a worthy goal, but a lofty one. Maternova’s business model is breaking new ground, and co-founders Meg and Allyson had to invest a lot of time simply laying the foundation for something that has never been done before. “It took an enormous investment of sweat equity on both our parts,” Allyson admits. What started as a basic obstetrics kit, adopted early on by doctors and midwives, has expanded into a global, online marketplace.

Allyson offers a concise description of what Maternova does: “We’re almost like Amazon in the sense that we’re click-and-ship. 90 percent of our clients are ordering more than one product at a time, so we’re an aggregator. We give them the ability to outfit an entire obstetric theater for significantly less of a typical investment, not only financially but also with their time. They don’t have time to go digging around to find all these great innovations; we do. We’ve actually helped save the lives of over 180,000 women and children.

At this point, they have launched products in over 40 countries. Allyson attributes part of their large reach to Maternova’s strong social media presence, which she says is essential to their marketing strategy.

As an employee of Palo Alto Software, I remember reading about Maternova because in 2012, they won the “Business Boost” competition we were sponsoring, and a grand prize of $10,000. Allyson told me that winning the contest was a huge victory for Maternova, and thanks to those winnings they were able to create the company’s nonprofit arm, Maternova Research.

Allyson is very down-to-earth; she describes a typical day at the Maternova office as busy and creative. The small team works out of a rehabbed shipping container. Working with so many international clients means that the “work day” is 24/7, but they find fun ways to de-stress: she notes that they take breaks to stay active through things like yoga and archery, and that her beloved dog accompanies her to the office.

The quirky and cute Maternova offices.

Of course, managing stress is a priority for any startup founders, but likely a little more so when you’re dealing with life-saving medical equipment that people otherwise would not have access to. The pressure is understandably high to select the most effective products. Customer feedback, both from medical professionals and the patients themselves, is a key factor in how Maternova selects their products, in addition to copious in-house research. They interview customers about their experiences; what worked, what didn’t, and what products they wish they had. Allyson says: “If it’s a matter of life and death, we need to get it right, and we do. We will work until we get it right.”

Maternova also reaches out directly to entrepreneurs who are developing these products. Through this work, they’ve created their innovation index, a database intended as a free public health resource for what medical products are in development across the world. In the future, Maternova’s nonprofit arm, Maternova research, will continue to research and maintain the innovation index. Maternova itself is heading into the patenting stages for some proprietary products, a project they’re very excited about.

Business planning is something Allyson notes has helped Maternova navigate the waters of being a startup, from raising capital to transitioning from an LLC to a C Corp with a 501 (c) 3 under its umbrella. “I’m a firm believer that you can have the best idea in the world, but if you can’t put together a cogent business plan, it will become very difficult for you to get something off the ground.” She says that planning keeps them on track as goals get larger and their growth becomes more ambitious.

Maternova has raised a seed round of funding, and is currently working on its series A. Allyson says that she and co-founder Meg knew that more traditional sources of funding like venture capital wouldn’t be the easiest avenue for a social enterprise, so they connected with an organization called Investor’s Circle. Investor’s Circle gives qualified organizations the chance to pitch impact investors who are looking for startups with social missions. Allyson highly recommends it, saying that the opportunity to talk about their company with like-minded people who could also invest in their company was incredibly helpful.

When I asked Allyson about what makes running a business and all of the hard work worth it, with a startup like Maternova the answer came easily, which is the beauty of it. I’ll leave it in her own, eloquent words:

“I can tell you firsthand, I was in a complete blind spot before I joined Meg. The initial shock and heartbreak of what women and girls endure, was mind-blowing. I really believe, and so does Meg, that once people know, they will want to help.

Our numbers are growing, and our supporters are growing. It’s wonderful to say that there is a lot of good that’s still out there in the world. The more moms we can save, the healthier and better those communities and families will be. It’s wonderful that other people are finally waking up to that. Women are valuable. They are invaluable.

There are women all around the world who are giving birth in bad situations that are completely preventable. We can do better. Maternova is here to do that.”

Chinomnso Ibe, Registered Nurse and founder of Traffina Foundation, a Nigerian partner of Maternova, listens to a patient’s heartbeat with their fetascope.

Allyson Cote’s advice for entrepreneurs:

  • Make sure you have a viable product. “You need to be realistic,” she says. “The first thing to do is make sure that you’ve done your homework, that you know your competitors, that you know if there’s a place for you in the market.”
  • Put together a great team. Allyson says the biggest mistakes she sees entrepreneurs make is gravitating toward team members that are similar to themselves. “The biggest thing that you can do to help yourself is to find other team members with complementary skill sets, but not identical,” she urges. “As soon as you go for funding, they will point that out immediately if you don’t have a well-rounded team.”
  • Target the right funders and investors. Cote says: “Know your audience. Know who’s going to be moved by your story. Your time is precious, and you need to focus on the people who are going to get your message.” Allyson and her partner knew where not to look for funding, so they could focus their energy in the right places.
  • Always be learning. “There are always people who can give you hugely helpful advice, with your business model, or with your products, or even with your team members.”
  • Make smart agreements with strategic partners. Allyson notes that the agreements Maternova makes with their distributors basically determine the success of a given product. In your own business, carefully consider contracts, pricing, anything that might affect the commercial viability of a product you’re selling.
  • Be your own advocate, and keep the faith. “You’ve got to stick to your guns, stay focused on your mission, and you’ve got to ring your own bell. You have to tell people you’re there.”

Maternova’s recommended tools and books:

  • Google AdWords. “Absolutely invest even a minimal amount in SEO and Google AdWords. Even a small investment can make a huge difference.”
  • Social media. “Social media is our primary marketing channel,” Cote says. “Hootsuite, where we can schedule tweets and updates, and Thunderclap to amplify the impact, have been highly successful for us.”
  • The Back of the Napkin by Dan Roam is an insightful and interesting look at how visual thinking and illustration can help entrepreneurs solve problems.
  • Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. This book addresses the fascinating case studies of people and businesses that are the true outliers and have been wildly successful—and analyzes why.
  • The Lean Startup by Erik Reis. Also a favorite around Palo Alto Software, this is a book that highlights a path for startup success, focusing on agility, tracking the right metrics and KPIs, and adapting to a changing business environment before problems become overwhelming.
  • Buyology by Martin Lindstrom evaluates why people make purchases at a scientific level and offers solid insights applicable to any business person.

What’s the secret to your success?

“First and foremost, while we take our mission seriously, we don’t take ourselves seriously at all. A sense of humor and a willingness to laugh at yourself are key to survival when you’re launching a company with a brand new business model. We like being the upstart, the disruptive voice puncturing the pretension and processes that have yielded little success for women globally.

It may sound trite, but our total inability to accept defeat, coupled with our commitment to our mission has kept us growing long after many companies would have folded. And we have the battle-scars to prove it,” Allyson says.

What is the secret to your business’s success? Write to us and tell us your story!

Posted in Customers' Stories

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