I met Ben Cooper, co-founder and CEO of Sensible Baby at Tech in Motion's recent "Wearable Technology Mixer" at the Baseball Tavern in Boston. Cooper's product introduces sensors into the sleep monitoring space. By placing a little chip in your infant's nightwear, you can monitor their breathing, and even know what position they are sleeping in. Alerts are sent to you via iPad or mobile app based on the baby's movements. Pretty cool.
1) Tell me about yourself, how you came up with idea/what the basics of what your product does and what pain point for the consumer does it address?
The idea was generated from a personal need of our co-founder Jeff Tagen. He’s a father of two and when we were looking to start a company we wanted to find out what we had experience in. He spoke to us about how he was anxious about his daughter and her safety when he brought her home from the hospital. At night, he would actually sneak into her bedroom and get close to her to figure out if she was still breathing -- but then how was he going to get out of the room? As a soon-to-be father, I could identify with this as well. At that point, we had the idea. We wanted to keep our children safe, but there had to be a better way. That was really the pain point we wanted to address: Give parents peace of mind and be able to alert them without having to go and physically check on their child.
2) What went into your strategy to disrupt this space?
We’re considered to be in the sleep monitoring industry, but we’re really creating a new category because our approach is focused around sensor-based co-parenting tools. The product is being driven by our customer. It’s parents’ voices we are listening to. We are parents, so we’re trying to help be the voice for them and bring solutions to their needs. So, our strategy for disrupting the space is really providing the monitoring needs for parents by utilizing the latest technology to deliver the best experience for them, while reducing that anxiety that comes with being a caring parent.
3) What would you say is your biggest challenge?
It’s like you’re in an ocean in a rowboat with a thousand little holes with varying sizes. You really need to make strategic decisions based on what holes you need to plug. The holes are the challenges, but the beauty of being a startup is that you’re agile and can nimbly plug those holes. Whether it's an issue with technology, development or manufacturing, we can pivot, move and triage the situation to solve the problem.
4) After you have been through building, strategizing and launching, do you think you would do this again?
Absolutely. I would do everything again and I’m excited and driven to find a solution to this problem. Of course, there were failures and learning experiences, but anything that wasn’t the most efficient or successful was a lesson learned. Even though it’s a cliché, it's true: you learn more from failures than from successes.
5) What do you think the future of your product is? How do you define success?
I think it comes from seeing a solution to the problem in general. Until all parents have peace of mind, we’ll continue to strive for perfection. Each parent who wants access to this product desires it. We want to make them sleep a little better at night. But I think ultimately, we want to see this become a staple of parenting and incorporate other types of sensors. When it’s widely adopted and delivers the results of convenience and peace of mind, that is when we’d consider moving on.
Bonus: What is the funniest or most awkward story you have around the product?
We had just gotten out of the Harvard Business School New Venture Competition pitch and we were all excited and happy it was over. I was putting my things away from the pitch away and stuffed everything in my bag. I walked down the hall and a woman literally gasped because doll’s feet were hanging out of the bag. I remember her saying, “Oh my goodness!?” It didn’t immediately connect in my head that she was referring to our fake baby doll, but it's still something that happens every so often.