Maternova: A Marketplace for Technologies and Ideas That Improve Maternal and Neonatal Health
This entry has been selected as a finalist in the
Innovations for Health: Solutions that Cross Borders competition.
Maternova is the first global marketplace for ideas and tools saving mothers and newborns. We help frontline providers track and buy innovative health products.
About Your Organization
United States, RI, Providence, Providence County
Country where this project is creating social impact
Is your organization a
How long has your organization been operating?
Has the organization received awards or honors? Please tell us about them
-Semi-Finalist in the Secretary of State's Competition for Empowerment of Women and Girls
-Semi-Finalist for the 2011 Buckminster Fuller Prize and the -William James Foundation Social Enterprise Competition
-Finalist in the Rhode Island Business Plan Competition
-Finalist in the MassChallenge competition!
-Participant in the 90 day MassChallenge Accelerator program in Boston over the summer of 2011.
-Winner of the LOHAS Prize (Life of Health and Sustainability) in June 2011
-Finalist in the Cartier Women's Initiative and in the Katerva Prize on Global Sustainability, Fall 2011.
-Recognized by the Providence Business News in the Innovations Awards.
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Select the stage that best applies to your solution
Growth (your pilot is up and running, and starting to expand)
How long have you been in operation?
Operating for 1‐5 years
Which of the following best describes the barrier(s) your innovation addresses? Choose up to two
The Need: What problem are you trying to solve?
Unbelievably, pregnancy is a leading cause of death amongst women of childbearing age in the developing world. In Sudan, a teenage girl is more likely to die in childbirth than she is to finish primary school. In approximately a third of the cases, women literally bleed to death. And for every woman who dies there are a dozen who survive what is called a ‘near-miss’ and who often endure lifelong disability. And newborns are also at risk—a staggering 4 million newborns die each year during birth or shortly thereafter. Compounding this issue, newborns who survive early childhood despite their mother’s death are six times as likely to die later in childhood. Most of these maternal and newborn deaths are preventable. Drugs, devices and protocols exist to save mothers lives.
The Solution: What is your solution? Be specific!
Global health innovation is exploding, but until now, we've seen a series of research projects and a la carte companies. We create the 1st online marketplace tracking and selling innovative technologies.
We make it easy for frontline providers and those who equip them to find and purchase the lowest cost technologies that save lives. In the last 18 months, Maternova built a global online marketplace for life-saving tools and ideas. Specifically, Maternova has:
•Built a user-friendly marketplace of health care products that have the potential to improve maternal/neonatal survival in low-income settings
•Pioneered and branded high quality product bundles with an innovative delivery and distribution mechanism
We aggressively market a set of obstetric and newborn technologies to our customers (governments, non-profits and health franchises) in low- and middle-income countries. We believe that technologies that are used together should be marketed together.
The Model: Walk us through a specific example of how your solution makes a difference; include your primary activities
We got a call from a group headed to work with the Masaai in Tanzania. This group needed to be able to test for anemia and to see at night. They ordered solar powered headlamps and the hemoglobin colour scale. In their report back, they noted how useful the solar headlamps were (they left them behind) and also noted that they tested 50 Masaai women with no other access to care and gave them iron pills.
Another group, also in Tanzania, is training local women to identify danger signs of pregnancy. Maternova fully equipped this group with basic obstetric tools for the lead obstetrician, a Tanzanian, and clean birth kits, ThermoSpots, fetascopes and more for the newly trained community women.
Responding to the needs of our beta testers has improved our obstetric paks, and strengthened the Maternova Innovation Index by focusing on the products our customers demand. Our ability to respond to the customers needs means that they can focus on doing what they do best, and what is needed most- high quality, accessible clinical care for mothers and newborns.
The Marketplace: Who are your peers and competitors? Identify others also working to address the needs you are and what differentiates you from them. What challenges could these players pose to your success or growth?
Until Maternova, there was no single place where these new diagnostics and devices, new and already on the market, were tracked and sold. Maternova addresses market inefficiencies with accessible and life-saving product bundles to transform customer access to needed products.
In terms of obstetric supplies, groups like UNFPA, IDA and in-country groups like the Nepal CRS company, Contac in Pakistan and AYZH in India pack supplies for midwives. No single site online aggregates life-saving technologies in an accessible marketplace with customizable bundles the way Maternova does.
Standalone companies could challenge us by selling competitive products but we believe that we can add value to them by marketing their products alongside others going to the same customers.
This Entry is about (Issues)
Founding Story: We want to hear about your "Aha!" moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution's potential to change the world.
One was a surprising story in the paper about Shannen Rossmiller. From the LA Times: "Shannen Rossmiller, 39, is a cyber-spy and former judge who taught herself Arabic after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and began infiltrating websites and chat rooms to hunt for terrorists. As her children slept, she [posed online] as more than two dozen Muslim militants from her home computer to gain information about planned attacks and terrorist cells across the world. Her investigations have led to two terrorism-related convictions in the U.S., and she has provided intelligence in dozens of other international cases." Rossmiller shared her idea at an FBI symposium at Fordham.
I found her story really inspiring, and saw the need for a cybercorps for maternal health. That was really the inspiration for taking a new kind of network or marketplace online--and it came from such an unlikely place!
Please describe the goal of your initiative; outline what you are trying to achieve
Maternova Inc.’s e-commerce marketplace delivers instant, efficient, and unprecedented access to new information and low-cost products needed by international healthcare organizations and health workers to save lives.
Death during or because of childbirth is the leading cause of mortality for women in dozens of countries around the world. An estimated $15B is lost per annum due to the loss of economic productivity of the women who die giving life.
Simple technologies save lives. And innovation is skyrocketing in the global health field. Maternova built a global online marketplace of tools saving the lives of mothers and newborns.
Our mission is to widely disseminate technology solutions to the clinicians who need them.
What has been the impact of your solution to date?
Within its first 18 months of operation, http://maternova.net has attracted 30,000 unique users from over 170 countries. We have also rapidly increased our customer base and the number of countries that we serve. The size of our orders is also increasing. The number of products we sell has increased from 1 offering to 10 over the last year. The average time spent on the site is greater than 3 minutes, a very respectable level for such a new site.
What is your projected impact over the next five years?
We project that can reach reach 6% of global births by 2015 by piggybacking on existing networks and distribution channels reaching the last mile in 60 of the poorest countries around the world. Obviously, each birth directly affects 2 people, mother and infant, but often affects a large extended family as well.
What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?
We face three major potential barriers. First, securing enough dollars for marketing at the appropriate scale. Second, securing funding for and retaining enough human resources/personnel for sales and marketing. Finally, we need investment from a mission driven investor.
We aim to overcome there barriers in a variety of ways. First, we will use pro bono services for social media and for marketing. To retain quality personnel, we will use creative solutions using incentives for a portion of sales or equity. To find a mission-driven investor, we participate in gust, Angellist, Toniic, which are all aggregators of mission driven investors.
Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
Maternova will sign an additional 5 distribution agreements with innovators who are looking to distribute and market their goods
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Conduct in-depth interviews with innovators to determine which 5 technologies best complement our current products
Engage the Advisory Board (scientific and business) on decisions about which innovations to pursue
Use financial modeling to determine products with greatest social impact and contribution margins for Maternova
Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
Triple the number of customers Maternova reaches
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Develop mechanisms for producing social media outreach in several languages
Apply directly for foreign government tenders for medical supplies
Continue to pursue new agreements with suppliers and distributors
Tell us about your partnerships
Maternova has signed an MOU with the World Computer Exchange (WCE), a decade-old group that sells supplies by sea container to 71+ countries. The Kopernik is a micro-donation site with which Maternova has a partnership. We have also worked with Concern Worldwide over the last six months.
Are you currently targeting other specific populations, locations, or markets for your innovation? If so, where and why?
Globally $15B is spent per annum on maternal/newborn commodities and services in the 60 lowest income countries. This market is growing with international attention to death in childbirth. Our immediately addressable market is the top ten international non-profit organizations funded to provide maternal newborn health care in low-income settings.
We focus on this market because our mission is to provide high quality, low cost supplies to front line healthworkers in resource limited settings. The first five target countries are Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and Haiti.
What type of operating environment and internal organizational factors make your innovation successful?
We are a startup company with a social mission. We are small, flexible and able to respond rapidly to market feedback. We believe that rapid prototyping is not used often enough in global public health. Core to everything we do is innovation.
In addition, we bring together multiple perspectives including design, medical device experience and global public health. We have a flat organizational structure where all ideas are welcome and valued and where everyone in the organization gets to try their hand at different aspects of the business.
Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list
We are specifically looking for groups that might want to pilot some of our products!
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