Gloria Kolb | Crain's Connecticut

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Gloria Kolb

Background:  

Elidah Inc., a Monroe-based startup, was founded in 2014 by Gloria Kolb and her husband, Eric, who met while working as research scientists at New Jersey-based Johnson & Johnson. The company is creating a product known as Elitone, which is a non-invasive wearable device that treats female urinary incontinence. The Kolbs hope to get U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval soon for Elitone, which is currently in two clinical trials, so they can begin marketing it by the end of the year.

The Mistake:

Not talking to enough people. This is my second time as a startup. The first one was definitely not a success. I have an MBA in entrepreneurship, so thought I knew a lot. But didn’t know as much as I thought.

At my first startup, Fossa Medical, we didn’t talk to enough urologists. We pooh-poohed their responses. A number liked the product [a device that dilated the ureter so that kidney stones could more easily exit the body], but we really didn’t understand the needs of the customers, which were the urologists. We ended up with a product that worked well but didn’t sell well.

So far, we’ve talked to 200 people, including 50 physicians. 

The Lesson:

Talking to more people has changed how we market.

We moved to a new methodology and we’re talking to many more people as we develop Elitone. We realize that we need to target the early and mild cases of incontinence. Stress is a major factor in these cases.

So far, we’ve talked to 200 people, including 50 physicians. We’re encouraging more people to sign up for the studies, and we’re fine-tuning the project based upon what the patients really like. What the market wants is a conservative solution that’s non-invasive. Some other treatments are vaginal, and women definitely don’t want that.

One of the great benefits is that it takes account of women’s lifestyles. Women are so busy. Many moms are working. They don’t want to wear something all day long. By talking to people we reached the finding that they really want to wear it once a day while at home and that’s it.

Follow Gloria Kolb on Twitter at @GloriaKolb.

Photo courtesy of Gloria Kolb.

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