Preparing to make a live pitch to global investors at the Web Summit in Lisbon this month, Dublin startup Coroflo has just been boosted by a €900,000 funding round and a public mention from billionaire business magnate Richard Branson.
Since patenting technology in April which it says is the world’s first accurate breast milk flow monitor, the company has been busy — winning the Irish leg of the Virgin Voom pitch competition, qualifying as a regional finalist in the Intertrade Ireland Seedcorn competition and becoming one of three ESB Spark of Genius competition finalists which get to pitch at the Web Summit.
Company CEO Rosanne Longmore says that October has been particularly busy for Coroflo, which closed a seed round of €650,000 and also secured an additional €250,000 from Enterprise Ireland which identified it as a High Potential Start Up company.
In October Richard Branson gave a public mention to the company live on stage during the launch of his new book Losing my Virginity.
This came about shortly after Ms Longmore had attended a brunch with him which was part of the prize for the Virgin Voom pitch competition.
Ms Longmore attributes the company’s early success to the strength of the technology which she believes can address some of the problems around low breastfeeding rates.
“The response to it has been hugely positive — it’s a tangible product which has resonated with investors and with Richard Branson,” she said.
The company had originally set out to raise €250,000 but was very happy to secure almost four times this amount.
Ms Longmore says this was huge for Coroflo as was the public mention by Richard Branson.
“This provided us with the type of publicity money could not buy,” she said.
As part of its win in the Irish Virgin Voom event in May Coroflo secured €6,000 in prize money.
Following the Virgin Voom brunch with Mr Branson in October Ms Longmore also came away with photographs taken with him and a written endorsement for the company’s EU Horizon 2020 grant application.
November is now shaping up to be another busy month for Coroflo which will be taking part in both the Intertrade Ireland Seedcorn Regional finals and the ESB Spark of Genius final.
Patented in April this year, the Coro breast milk monitor, which works in conjunction with a mobile app, has been two and a half years in development.
The idea originated with the company’s co-founders Dr Helen Barry and her husband James Travers, who identified a need for this type of product when they had concerns about the feeding levels of their own baby.
“There was no way to measure milk supply accurately, precisely and in real-time so they set about creating one,” said Ms Longmore, explaining that this solution has only become possible now because of recent developments in micro technology.
An engineer who worked with micro flow sensors in the 3D printing industry, Mr Travers worked on developing the technology while Dr Barry carried out the medical research.
She discovered that some women stop breastfeeding because they are concerned that their babies are not getting enough milk and this is a problem in first world countries.
“In Ireland 36% of women who stop breastfeeding cite concern regarding low supply as the main reason for discontinuing, in Germany the figure is 95%,’’ said Ms Longmore.
When the founders secured patent approval in April this year they registered their new company which is based in Dogpatch Labs in Dublin.
Ms Longmore who comes from a financial services background then began fundraising and entering competitions.
Following the successful completion of its funding round, Coroflo is now making plans to hire between six and eight additional staff next year and to launch the Coro in the autumn.
The company is also partnering
with UCD’s Centre for Human Reproduction to apply for EU Horizon 2020 funding.
“This is hugely exciting for us, if funding is granted, the Coro will be used in research studies looking at the biological factors that can impact milk supply,” she said.