PITCH NYC 2012 finalist Maternova will be presenting live on November 14 at PITCH NYC Conference – join us!
By Allyson Cote & Meg Wirth (Co-Founders, Maternova)

Maternova was founded with the sole purpose of creating a bridge between lifesaving medical devices and the end-users who need them. The global health industry is experiencing unprecedented growth and interest as entrepreneurs feverishly develop healthcare innovations.

When the United Nations recognized maternal mortality as one of 8 major challenges for humanity through 2015, innovators and entrepreneurs took notice. As innovations continue to flood the map, it became clear that there was no one place to track and commercialize complementary innovations.

This lack of connectivity created an opportunity for enterprise that is now known as Maternova. To get an idea of how massive the problem actually is, let’s quickly look at some numbers – 2 million infants and almost 300,000 women die in childbirth each year globally. 99% of these deaths occur in developing countries and 90% of these deaths are preventable with simple technologies. For every woman who dies, there are 3 million who suffer disabilities due to physical trauma in childbirth.

What are examples of innovations that would make a difference? A great example is solar powered light equipment! It turns out that there are solar-powered headlamps and even photovoltaic systems to power a full obstetric theater. Other examples are simple anemia diagnostics, infection prevention, warming techniques and more.

When we research innovations, we follow a rigorous set of proprietary standards. All the innovations curated, endorsed and sold by Maternova have to be sustainable, effective, and thoroughly tested. As we’ve grown, we’ve realized the influence Maternova exerts on the industry. We’re increasingly known as the trusted global information network for maternal health. The need for a market leader was clear and we’ve needed to scale quickly to realize the impact we could have as an enterprise.

We tested the full vision for Maternova by entering the Live Plan Boost Business Plan Competition, judged by Tim Barry and Guy Kawasaki. Validation was first achieved when we won the Grand Prize this past September. They put a stamp of approval on the business case for Maternova, validating that we are poised for tremendous growth as we work to build out our three-prong offering: commerce, collaboration and content.

It would make send most folks think there are a lot of people and groups doing this, right? Sure, foundations and others had vast files of innovations, but these weren’t accessible or transparent. We believe that when innovators and end users are connected and when the full array of options are transparent and accessible everyone wins.

Shortly after building the platform, the users flowed in – we have reached 170 countries: India, Pakistan, the Philippines and Nigeria are amongst our top users. When clinicians reached the platform they wanted to know more about the products but they didn’t want to just talk about them in the abstract, they wanted to buy them and to test them in their own settings.

The Maternova Marketplace offers customers from any corner of the world the ability to buy life-saving products quickly in customizable quantities. Our current list of 20 products will soon expand to 50 and then to 100. We carefully curate the best low-cost innovations based upon reviews from our partners and other end users.

We also realized that product and person was the key equation missing in so much of this work. With the wave of increase in mobile phone connectivity across the globe, we had the opportunity to connect across boundaries in a way that hasn’t been possible. Our collaboration platforms will connect frontline providers around user groups for specific technologies, health issues and best practices.

We have a lot more to learn from our partners in places like the Sudan, India, Uganda, Turkey and Indonesia. We wake up every day excited to hear what they have to say, and what products they need right now.

Content + Commerce + Collaboration = More lives saved, more quickly.

Women 2.0 readers: Have business plans helped validate, fund or move your startup forward? Let us know in the comments below.

About the guest blogger: Allyson Cote is Co-Founder of Maternova. She has 20 years high-level sales, technology and business development experience. Most recently she was part of the founding teams of two successful startups, one in the Web 2.0 health and wellness space. Allyson is also an an avid animal rights activist.
About the guest blogger: Meg Wirth is Co-Founder of Maternova. She has worked in global health for 15+ years at the Rockefeller Foundation, the UN Millennium Project and in Indonesia. She has consulted to startup companies pursuing global health markets. Meg has been a finalist in the MassChallenge, Cartier Awards, LOHAS prize, the RI Business Plan Competition and most recently the Women 2.0 PITCH NYC 2012 Startup Competition. Follow her on Twitter at @maternova.