By Tobias Wall Belleville News-Democrat
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Love this story of an emergency room doctor who had trouble feeding her baby daughter medicine. So, what did she do? She creatively drilled a hole through the center of a pacifier and inserted a medical tube, then attached an oral syringe. Not only did Dr. Agnes Scoville get her baby to take the dose, she launched her own business called "Pacidsose." Female business ownership by way of the emergency room! SO cool.
Agnes Scoville, of Kirkwood, is a war veteran and an emergency room doctor, but even she had trouble getting her infant daughter to take medicine. But she had an idea.
She drilled a hole through the center of a pacifier and inserted an angiocath -- a narrow tube used in medical settings -- in the hole. She then attached an oral syringe. The next time she gave medicine to her daughter, the modified pacifier worked so well she decided to start a business that manufactured and sold Pacidose.
Now, Scoville & Company's Pacidose is sold in every Schnucks and Dierbergs pharmacy in the country. Scoville said she couldn't have had the success she's had without the help of SIUE's Metro-East Small Business Development Center, the university's pharmacy and business schools and the all-around supportive nature of people in the St. Louis area.
Scoville runs the sales side of her business out of the TRex co-working space in St. Louis, while the legal and logistical aspects are managed out of the Peer 151 space in downtown Belleville.
Q. How did the idea for Pacidose come to you?
A. "Fifteen years in the ER, you know (accurate dosage for children) is a problem. And I had my own daughter and it was impossible. I said, 'There's got to be a better way.' Through a series of prototypes we came up with the right design, and viola."
Q. What was the 'ah-ha' moment where you knew this would go beyond use in your own home?
A. "It was when I used it at home with my daughter for the first time. It worked so well. It's so simple. So when I first had the idea, I thought it was a great idea. But I had to prove to myself that other people would think it's a good idea. We had 400 units made up originally in 2014. We had them on Amazon and sold out in a few months. Then we made 2,000 units last summer and we sold out again in a few months. Now we're up to 50,000 units."
Q. How did you get involved with SIUE's Small Business Development Center?
A. "We found out about the Metro-east Startup Challenge, that's how we met (SBDC director) Patrick McKeehan. He has just been an amazing resource just in terms of helping us think about the business strategically as well as other competitions and resources available in the area. He was our biggest champion at the InnovateHER Challenge in Washington D.C. Another resource that's been fantastic is the pharmacy school at SIUE. They connected me with Miranda Wilhelm. She was very instrumental in helping me understand what pharmacists are looking for in products when they sell them from their store."
Q. You won the Metro-East Startup Challenge in 2015. Did winning that send you down the path to the national InnovateHER competition in Washington D.C.?
A. "Absolutely. A lot of it was just being aware of the competition and having (McKeehan) focus our efforts."
Q. What was it like competing in D.C.?
A. "What I was blown away by was how big it was. You apply to get into the competition and see the website, but you don't get it until you get there. The first night Microsoft invited us to their penthouse office and gave us champagne at sunset. The next morning we went to the White House. It was realizing that this is really, really a big deal. I would say it was opening my eyes as to how big the competition really was. There were over 2,000 submissions. We were one of ten finalists and won third place. The focus of the competition was products that will benefit women and families."
Q. What were the products that got first and second place?
A. "One was a woman from Florida who makes roll-up shoes you can sell out of a vending machine. She got second. And the number one was a woman who has figured out how to digitize and distribute sewing patterns."
Q. Did you think in 2014 that your idea would take you this far?
A. "No. The main difference was moving to St. Louis (from Los Angeles) and getting these awards from local competitions that we have applied to. There's a collaborative spirit and a very open-door feeling here. People have been very enthusiastic about the product, it's a family-oriented are in the Midwest. I think if I'd been in a different part of the country, I don't think we would be here now."
Q. Where do you take your company and your product from here?
A. "Ultimately I would like to show this to hospitals. This saves medication, it makes sure babies get better more quickly. It's not just at home. When babies are in the hospital, you don't always want to have to start an IV on a baby. It hurts. It's really painful to work with children and watch them suffering."
Q. Any new products you can tease?
A. "Let's say that they are all products that are designed to help parents give better care at home. We're not talking super high tech. They're all really simple products to use at home. Sorry, no specifics." Agnes Scoville
Job: ER physician, inventor of Pacidose and owner of Scoville & Co.
Why she does it: "I'm just trying to help moms and little babies everywhere."