JettStream, Inc., a new start up company in Bend, has been working hard to get their product to market, estimating launch in spring 2013. Jettstream doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but rather has redesigned the way medication is administered to children suffering from asthma through a device created by JettStream Founder Sarah Cota and engineered by Chief Technical Officer Mathew Smith. Their mission statement is quite simple: to reduce asthma attacks and emergency room visits for children with asthma and to relieve the burdens of the families with asthmatic children.
CBN: Tell us about the background of your company.
Cota: I have four children and Jett, whom the company is named after, was two years old when he had an asthma attack that put him the hospital for a week. I didn’t know anything about asthma before that. I was sent home with medication and the nebulizer, with very little information on how to treat asthma. As I tried to give the medication to Jett with the nebulizer, he would refuse it, and push away the face mask. He wasn’t getting his daily full doses needed and still having severe asthma attacks. I was frustrated and asked doctors and nurses for help and they just said you got to do what you got to do [to give Jett the treatments]. I just thought there had to be a better way. One night while I was giving Jett his medication, I had an idea of a way to dispense medication above his head while he is asleep. I shared my story and design idea with product developer Smith and we became a team a year ago.
CBN: What have been challenges for the company in creating your new product?
Smith: In January we got involved with Venture Box, a business accelerator. This is when our full team formed and through 12 weeks of extensive training we had a streamlined focus on how to approach our specific market and to launch the product. We are practicing lean startup principles. Our largest hurdle to tackle was to make sure our product could deliver medication equivocally to every current device on the market. Bend Research did our product testing and it is proven our device is equal, delivering the same doses of medication. Then the FDA question came up. We are finalizing our application to the FDA in the coming weeks and do not expect any problems as we are class one, exempt with the lightest restrictions. We have moved to the next phase, raising funds to be able to launch our product by spring 2013.
CBN: How do you launch your product?
Smith: With a big web presence, feeding ongoing education behind the product. We want to be the number one educational location for families with asthmatic children. We will have the JettPak, the device and JettEd, the education needed on treating asthma. The current traditional method of dispensing medication is through the face mask attached to the nebulizer. With our current device, it is designed for giving children the medication at night. The base of the device can slide under a pillow or the mattress, and it has an adjustable arm to put next to the child’s face when they are sleeping, administrating the full dose needed therefore reducing asthma attacks. We are gaining a lot of traction, with support from medical professionals and our devices would go to individuals, through hospitals and insurance companies. We also will be doing a clinical trial that will allow us to get 50 devices to local families to get feedback, to make sure we are meeting our mission statement.
CBN: What advice would you give to others interested in establishing a new start up?
Cota and Smith: Having the right team and the right people around you is important. Ask for help. There are many resources in Bend. EDCO (Economic Development for Central Oregon) has been a great help to us. Do your research and always look for feedback. You might not always like what you hear. Also don’t let anyone leave a meeting without asking for something in return; you can’t be afraid to ask. Most people want to help.
CBN: What has been the biggest highlight in this process?
Cota: I am using the device for my son Jett, treating his asthma and his disease is now manageable. I look at his asthma in a whole different way and that is relieving for me as a mom. He has not been to the ER since we have been using the JettPak. It is a great validation as a mom, knowing I have a product idea that works. Jett is now seven and is doing well. Coming from the non profit world, this has been quite a big switch for me. I am a social worker so I don’t have a MBA but I feel like I should have one after this experience.
CBN: In terms of volunteering, what is or will be your company’s contribution to the community?
Smith: We would like to do a Kick Starter campaign to raise funds for our company and there will be offers to any individuals interested in our product to use in their home. With a pledge option, our devices could be donated to children needing asthma treatment. Currently, our focus is accomplishing our product launch, but we want to be able to sponsor children in need. It’s just not right that children have to suffer with this chronic disease.
CBN: After all of this hard work, what do you do to relax?
Smith and Cota: We love doing this [business]. We do enjoy the outdoors and skiing. Bend is a great place to live. The entrepreneurial experience here is great. Bend was recently named as the next big city for entrepreneurship in the Entrepreneur magazine.
Visit www.jettstreaminc.com for more information.