World Intellectual Property Day 2022: ‘IP and youth’ with Ostique

To celebrate World Intellectual Property Day 2022, Mathys & Squire has collaborated with three SME leaders on a series of articles, exploring innovation and the impact IP has had on each business.

In the final interview of our series, we spoke to Toni Schneider, COO of Ostique, a UK company offering innovative and affordable ostomy care products.

1. How is your idea/invention creating a better future?

There have been incremental developments in ostomy care over the last few decades, yet despite this, products still impact on ostomates’ daily activities and psychological wellbeing. Even the most body-confident ostomates find current products stigmatising and the lack of choice frustrating. 

We create innovative and aesthetically empathetic ostomy care products, as we believe that everyone living or adapting to life with a stoma deserves ostomy care that not only delivers on functional needs, but also supports them mentally and physically. We understand that there can be stigmas and challenges that people with stomas will face, and with our product we hope to improve their quality of life for a better future.

2. What were the challenges you or your team faced when growing your business?

Similar to other young businesses, we needed to raise funds to grow our operations and have found the process of fundraising to be challenging. However, we are overcoming this challenge by ensuring we get our brand into the marketplace and connecting with the various networks that support businesses looking to fundraise.  

Furthermore, due to the nature of our work, when COVID restriction took place, we were unable to run a few of our daily activities, such as carry out patient focus groups. Despite this, we were very quick to adapt our process and took sessions online, and sent products via post to individual participants. 

3. What role does IP play in protecting your invention and supporting your business objectives?

IP is very important to our business, as we invest heavily in developing new and innovative products which address the significant issues of existing ostomy product offerings. We also recognise the vital commercial importance of protecting the company’s innovations to prevent other players in this space from free-riding on our developments. Our IP strategy is thus to seek robust protection for all of Ostique’s IP, where commercially appropriate to do so. 

Our earliest patent applications in fact pre-date the incorporation of Ostique as a company (they were filed in the name of our founder Stephanie and were later transferred to Ostique) – emphasising the fact that defensibility has been a core pillar for us from the very start.  

4. What advice would you give to your younger self to better navigate your journey?

My advice would be to believe in yourself, self-doubt and imposter syndrome can be your worst enemy and limit your progression. I was fortunate to have a very supportive network of family and friends to encourage myself and Ostique’s CEO, Stephanie.

Also, trust the path you are following, I started a career in law and then founded my own business with my friend. Although I stopped practising law, I use so many of the transferable skills that I learnt to run the business today. Finally, trust your gut!! 

5. What forward-looking plans do you have to ensure an even better future for your business and/or the wider society?

We have specific milestones for Ostique to grow and we continue to focus on working with patients impacted by stoma surgery and help integrate them into society, whilst promoting awareness and social inclusion. 

6. What activities do you carry out to ensure your business keeps innovating?

We keep an eye on the market as well as ensuring we are signed up to the relevant publications and newsletters to hear the latest industry news. We also consistently collaborate with patients, care-givers, nurses, clinicians and academics to receive feedback to input into our innovative products.

Mathys & Squire recognises the invaluable contribution inventors and innovative businesses offer to building a better future, and we are also aware of some of the challenges they might face. In an effort to help entrepreneurs, startups and scaleup businesses protect their inventions, we launched the Scaleup Quarter, a microsite with resources and a tailored offering for SMEs.

For more information, contact a member of our team.