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KILI Drain Carrier

The experience of taking a notion, to the point of launching it as a business venture, is daunting. Let me tell you how I used resources in my local community to build a small startup that addresses a critical need within the population of cancer patients.

My background is in marketing, and though it provided valuable skills to address demand creation for my product, I was unprepared for the financial development side of the business. The big buzz among startups is acquiring venture capital funding. And, I assumed that was how I would be funded.

The reality is that the amount of money startups raise in their seed and Series A rounds is inversely correlated with success. I found this fact in the Harvard Business Journal, in an article, “VC Funding Can Be Bad for Your Startup.”

Thanks to suggestions from the region’s SBA lending relations team and valuable coaching from SBDC mentors, I applied for and secured a Small Business loan. The loan shifted the trajectory of my business.

My business product is the result of being a cancer patient myself. After nine surgeries that required wearing medical drains for two or three weeks, I realized the medical community had not addressed the need to manage these drains when the patient returns home. I based my innovation on a simple apron design for suspending drains, but using fine light mesh material – allowing the patient to wear it in the shower.

A number of area hospitals have adopted the KILI Drain Carrier, and patients are regaining control of their recovery process. The carrier provides a safe and painless way to manage drains, it also increases patient mobility and thereby accelerates their recovery time.

SBDC’s business loan provided funds for the purchase of additional inventory, in order to meet the demands of increasing sales. It also gave me the opportunity to hire a sales representative, so I could spend more time on the operations side of the business.

Thanks to a great team of helpful business advisors, we’re now in discussions about increasing the scale of our inventory in order to be a supplier to a major medical supply distributor.

And the SBDC Business Loan extends globally. Our business also contracts with women in Africa who make colorful aprons from local fabrics. By purchasing their crafts, we fund small businesses in their villages that allows them to pay school fees for their children and purchase farming supplies.