Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we’re talking with Jake Colvin, co-founder of baby health-tracker provider Owlet.
In 128 words or less, explain your business idea
Owlet Baby Care is an infant health platform empowering parents with the right information at the right time. Founded in 2013 by four passionate dads, Owlet is redefining the future of infant healthcare, starting with the flagship product, the Owlet Smart Sock.
Through tens of thousands of hours of in-home testing, Owlet redesigned clinically proven technology – pulse oximetry – combining it with cutting-edge communications, analytics, and a finely tuned, parent-driven user experience, to create the world’s smartest baby monitor. The Smart Sock wirelessly tracks a baby’s heart rate, oxygen levels, and other biometrics, providing infant wellness at a glance to parents, and notifications in case something falls outside set parameters. Helping increase peace of mind for over 250,000 parents, Owlet is focused on designing solutions for the 21st century.
What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?
Word of mouth is very important to our growth. We’ve built our product with the highest standards in quality and reliability. We’ve further enhanced this by leveraging parents’ positive experiences with our Smart Sock product, focusing primarily on social media, mum bloggers, and by working with other mission-oriented groups that want to provide parents with better solutions. Our efforts to constantly drive awareness have led to prime US retailers seeking us out to carry our brand, as we drive traffic into their physical stores. and we’re now are a category leader in major retailers across the United States. We’ve also been able to leverage venture funding, partnering with passionate parent-investors who have the desire and capital to provide the best products possible to families as they start on this new chapter of their lives.
Launching in Australia in November 2017 marked the start of our international expansion. The local market is already showing similar growth rates, relative to population size, which is hugely exciting.
How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?
At Owlet, we are dedicated to asking the right questions and then continuously iterating to get to the best solutions. Our product has fundamentally redesigned clinically proven technology to be appropriate for the home. Our focus has not been on being a baby monitor, but on how can we best solve parents’ issues and concerns. It just so happens that the needed solution to one of our questions fell under the category of baby monitors, coupled with new wearable tech, analytics, and cloud-based solutions, to answer one of parents’ biggest questions and concerns when it comes to their child – is my baby ok?
In addition to creating the gold standard of baby monitoring, as a company and as individuals we are driven by a mission. We strive to improve infant health and safety in every way we can, and along with our work on the Smart Sock and other products currently under development, we work with groups of medical professionals and researchers around the globe to better understand infant health. We currently have created one of, if not the largest infant health database in the world. This is allowing researchers to see things they have never seen before and will continue to help unlock solutions to infant health problems for decades to come.
What’s the biggest challenge facing your business?
Scaling. We have always pushed our resources to the limit, and growth has been a good but difficult challenge. Especially now as we are becoming a global company, each market is unique and while parents are tied together through common concerns and the wonderful experiences that come from having a family, each deserves to have the best solution possible, presented in a way that they can best relate to, in the marketing, messaging, and the user experience of the product itself.
What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?
Google Translate. I am a people person and Google Translate has helped me connect with people in their own language around the world. Understanding the human experience and cultural norms in remote corners of the world has been most rewarding and enlightening, and ultimately empowers me to have a bigger impact on humanity.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
Remember to take time for your family. If you say you are doing something for your family, but don’t spend time with them, you are only fooling yoursel
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