The fight against cancer can be stressful, scary and uncomfortable. The founders of the start-up Chemo Cozy know this first hand, and have developed a product to make the experience of chemotherapy more pleasant.
"We're not curing cancer. … We just want to make [patients] more comfortable while they are going through these treatments, because it's not easy," said co-founder Greg Hamilton.
CNBC gave Hamilton and his wife and partner, Ellen, 60 seconds to present their idea to “Power Pitch” panelists Dr. Nimesh Nagarsheth, Norwest Venture Partners' Casper de Clercq and CNBC host Mandy Drury. Click the video to see whether they thought the company had what it takes to become a successful business.
Greg Hamilton has been a cancer survivor since 2010. His treatments have included chemotherapy and surgeries. During chemo, nurses needed to repeatedly access different areas, like his forearm and chest where he had infusion sites. This would sometimes require him to disrobe when he was already feeling cold and uncomfortable from the treatment.
He and his wife searched for more suitable clothes but couldn't find anything that was practical and comfortable.
"I'm a runner, and I can walk into any sporting goods store and find something for when it's raining, snowing, when it’s hot, cold, there's a zillion different things out there for me, and there's really nothing out there for people fighting for their lives," said Ellen Hamilton.
They decided to create their own jacket with concealed zippers that allowed nurses and doctors access to infusion sites. "The staff loved it, the patients loved it, and we were like 'we have to make this for everybody,'" Greg Hamilton told CNBC.
From cancer survivor to entrepreneur
The couple launched a Kickstarter campaign in October and reached their funding goal of $20,000 in 10 days. By the end of their 30-day campaign they were 150 percent funded.
The jackets, which retail for $54.99, are manufactured in China and cost about $18 to make. However the founders disclosed the costs do not include distribution and marketing costs.
While Power Pitch panelist Dr. Nagarsheth said he loved the company’s mission, he had concerns about the market size.
“One-point-six million people in the United States are diagnosed with cancer each year. But by CDC estimates, about 650,000 of those patients are actually chemotherapy patients in outpatient clinics,” Nagarsheth said. “And on top of that, not all of those patients would have long-term chemotherapy regimens.”
The founders said they believe chemotherapy patients benefit from their product, as do people with blood disorders or those who require routine dialysis.
"If we even get only 5 or 10 percent of that market, that's 60,000 jackets annually, and that's just with people that have chemotherapy," Greg Hamilton said.
Currently the jackets can be found on chemocozy.com and in seven hospital gift shops in the U.S. as well as several boutiques that sell items for cancer patients. The founders are also working with some foundations that buy and gift them to their patients.
“We're going through an application process now with Medicare and Medicaid, to try and get this as a nonmedical device for reimbursement ... but that'll also make it much more available and affordable for people,” said Greg Hamilton.
In the future the couple plan to add more products to their pipeline such as children’s jackets, pajamas, functional T-shirts, and jackets/pants for dialysis patients.
So far, the company has raised $140,000 from Kickstarter donations, friends and family, and total sales are $60,000.
See Ellen and Greg Hamilton pitch their start-up Chemo Cozy to “Power Pitch” panelists Dr. Nimesh Nagarsheth, Norwest Venture Partners' Casper De Clercq, and CNBC host Mandy Drury.
--Additional Reporting by Joanna Weinstein and Kelly Lin
--Comments, questions, suggestions? We'd love to hear from you. Follow us @CNBCPowerPitch and join the #PowerPitch conversation
- Health Care Industry
- Greg Hamilton
- Norwest Venture Partners