21 Apr 2016 — Snuza Hero, A Short History
It’s amazing how time flies. Around 10 years ago I envisioned a portable breathing monitor for babies that exceeds the performance of anything on the market. I wanted to make something that improves lives. That gives parents the peace of mind that they so badly need during that first critical year of their baby’s lives. That speaks for babies who are unable to, at their most vulnerable moment – when they’re alone in their crib and unable to breathe.
I’d read some reports stating that these devices don’t save lives, or at least there was no evidence to support that claim. Legally speaking that is quite true but it didn’t make sense to me that given an opportunity for early intervention, a parent couldn’t save their own baby. I’ve seen nurses in NICU units rush up to babies who have stopped breathing (indicated by the sound of a breathing alarm) and tickle their feet or give some other tactile stimulation to get babies to breathe again, so why couldn’t parents do the same? I thought to myself that if I had the opportunity to be alerted to my baby having stopped breathing, would I want to know? I couldn’t imagine any parent answering no to that question, so I went ahead to develop Snuza.
It took a few years to register patents, develop the technology and test it against hospital equipment to perfect the design and get the necessary certifications and by 2008 we were in the market. Now how do we tell the world about our new device? I know a lot about technology, microprocessors, software semaphores, real-time mission critical systems (my first job was with a company developing military technology) but I didn’t know a huge amount about how to market a product – especially on an international level!
We initially approached various retailers in South Africa which proved to be futile at the time. Perhaps it was too early for the South African market? So in the interests of getting a device to market sooner rather than later, we shifted our attention to the rest of the world. We packaged the Snuza Hero (Called the “Halo” back then), created some branding and travelled across the globe to various baby goods trade shows such as Kind Und Jugend in Germany, the ABC show in Las Vegas USA, the CBME show in China, to name a few, with the hope of building a network of contacts interested in investing in our idea and product, and hopefully to represent us in their respective countries.
Needless to say, it was a very slow start. But as the saying goes you can’t keep a good man down. Slowly Snuza began to gain traction. It was a bumpy first few years, streamlining production and our internal systems to handle the load of increased demand taking its toll. They call it growing pains. And believe me it hurt. But things gradually improved. As sales in the rest of the world were increasing, which helped establish the brand, we were getting our company’s management system up to ISO 13485 standards.
In recent months we hit the 250,000 unit sales milestone. Becoming ISO 13485 certified had lifted our game beyond anything I could have imagined. One of many invaluable processes we are required to adhere to is ‘Post Market Surveillance’. This has given us the opportunity to gain significant knowledge of how customers use our products with the goal of ‘Continual Improvement’, another ISO requirement. Our Post Market Surveillance has enabled us to conservatively estimate that our devices now have an accumulated 1,000,000,000 (1 billion) hours of tried and trusted use. That’s more than 100,000 years!
We have steadily become the largest selling mobile baby movement monitor in the world and our commitment to continuous improvement, with ground-breaking new technology we’re about to launch, should see us achieve our goal of becoming the world’s number one baby monitoring solution.
Every so often a testimonial comes across my desk of a life changing event, where our little Hero acted as the voice for a baby that could not.
That is what drives me.
Founder of Snuza