A Temple University School of Media and Communication alumna has designed a new product that allows for privacy and discretion during what can be a woman’s most nerve-wracking and life-altering moment.
The flushable LIA pregnancy test, designed by Bethany Edwards, ADV ’06, and her business partner, Frances DiMare, won the top prize in this year’s Innovative Idea Competition, hosted annually by the Fox School of Business’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute. (see related story)
The pregnancy test has no digital displays or plastic casing; it is made from a special cellulose paper that is able to determine if a woman is pregnant from a urine sample. And when the result is revealed, any traces of the LIA can be flushed away.
“The plot of so many great movies would be ruined if you didn’t see the evidence in the trashcan,” Ellen Weber, the institute’s executive director and assistant professor of strategic management at the Fox School of Business, said of the grand prize winner.
Edwards, of Philadelphia, spent her early career as an ad agency associate creative director and designer, but now works as a freelancer to focus more on her entrepreneurial efforts. She earned $2,500 for winning the competition, as well as $500 for taking second place in the audience choice award, money that will be used to aid in the creation of second phase prototypes and help pay to incorporate their company.
The concept for LIA was born while Edwards and DiMare were pursuing a master’s degree in the University of Pennsylvania’s Integrated Product Design program.
Edwards credits her background as a designer for helping to shape the idea. While studying advertising at Temple, Edwards worked in the creative department at Fox’s Small Business Development Center with Stacey Harpster, now an assistant professor of advertising. It’s that experience that showed her how her advertising talents could enhance her entrepreneurial drive.
“It’s part of a new wave in the advertising industry,” she said of her concept for the company. “It’s a hybrid model of an industrial design firm that bakes its advertising and marketing in by designing a good product.”
Edwards said companies can offset some of their marketing costs if a product is able to speak for itself.
From sustainability to privacy
But even a well-designed product needs a good pitch behind it.
The duo set out to create something that didn’t outlive its usefulness and was environmentally sustainable. They tinkered with the idea of children’s toys but soon segued into single-use items and the medical test realm.
Edwards said she and her partner thought the sustainability of LIA was going to be its main selling point, but after a number of interviews with people in their target market, they realized the privacy the test allows is what makes it truly stand apart from the competition. Seventy-two percent of the women they surveyed who had thrown away a pregnancy test made sure it was hidden.
Edwards and DiMare currently have a rough prototype and a patent pending for LIA and plan to use the confidence they have gained from placing first at Temple’s Innovative Idea Competition to invest their time and money to take their creation to the next level by seeking out press opportunities and potential investors.
“Winning … was a surprise and honor,” she said. “It’s validation that there are people out there who not only value innovation, but also want to help innovative ideas come to fruition. For me, having others believe in the idea builds the confidence to push it forward.”
By Jeff Cronin