Mompreneur: KK Patton of Patton Medical Devices
By: Deirdre Uria
Catherine “KK” Patton went from an expectant mom to a diagnosed diabetic in 2001. As she began to address her Type 1 diabetes and introduce herself to injections and then pump therapy, after becoming discouraged with the first treatment, Patton invented a medical device that would take the pain out of her treatments. In 2004, she founded Patton Medical Devices in an effort to expose the diabetes community to her creation, the i-port Injection Port, a small, low-profile device that aids in medicine being delivered to the body.
Read the rest of her story:
Q: What was your big idea, and how did you translate it into a product or service?
A: After I was officially diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, requiring multiple daily insulin injections, I began to look at things very differently. I was never a person who was scared of needles, but after taking a minimum of four shots a day for several months, I began to dread injections and mealtimes. I started doing things that I shouldn’t, like skipping breakfast and not taking the correction doses I needed. I was constantly trying to make my treatment regimen less invasive.
I tried other options, such as the insulin pump. I thought that this was going to be the answer to all my problems. However, after wearing the pump for about six months, I realized that this wasn’t the option for me either. I was tired of letting diabetes control my life. I was motivated by my husband and son to take control and do what was right for me without sacrificing my health or my family’s happiness.
It was through this struggle that I came up with the idea for the i-port®. I knew that there could be something that would fit my needs. I wanted the simplicity of injection therapy with the flexibility of unlimited dosing and fewer needle punctures. I wanted the best of both worlds. No machine and only one needle puncture every three days seemed like the perfect solution to my struggles. This is how I came up with the idea for the device.
Basically, the i-port® is a small, circular, low-profile device that is about the size of a quarter. When the i-port® is applied, an insertion needle guides a tiny, flexible tube under the skin. Once applied, the insertion needle is removed and only the tiny soft tube remains below the skin, acting as the medication gateway into the subcutaneous tissue. The application process takes only seconds and feels like taking one shot. Once in place, one can take up to 72 needle free injections over three days with no worries about showering, swimming, exercise, etc. I officially filed for a patent on my idea in July of 2002, one year after my initial diagnosis. In February of 2004, Patton Medical Devices was formed to begin the process of bringing the i-port to market.
Q: What was the process that got you to where you are today?
A: I filed for a patent on my idea in July of 2002, one year after I was diagnosed. I soon discovered that coming up with the idea was the easy part. I knew that we needed to design something that would work well and that people would want to use regularly. I founded the company in 2004, and three years later i-port® came to market. During the three years, we worked with a number of design and development groups and identified a manufacturing partner who had outstanding experience in bringing devices to market. We initiated clinical trials to test the i-port®, and got a great response from the patient population.
Q: What kind of support did you need to make your dream a reality? Who was your support system?
A: I was a 27 year-old wife and mother who was frustrated that there was not a product to address the burden that I experienced due to daily insulin injections. I did not have the medical or business background that I needed to start the company and develop the product. Still, I knew that my idea had potential, so I enlisted the help of a number of healthcare, financial, and general business advisors to work with me on bringing this device to the public.
I count my blessings that I have been lucky enough to watch my dream become a reality. I am grateful to so many people who helped me through the long process, especially my husband who supported me from the very start.
Q: How old was your child (or children) when you became a mompreneur (if you had already had your child)? How old are they now?
A: I have one child named Will who was just 14 months when I filed for a patent on my idea. He is now almost eight years old.
Q: Do you find the balance between work and home life difficult? Did you find it harder when he, she, or they were younger? How did you cope?
A: I think finding the correct balance between work and home life is difficult no matter what you do. For me, the most important thing is to always put family first. Definitely things were more difficult for me when my son was younger. Not only was I a new mom, which made my health even more important to me, but I was faced with learning how to deal with a very difficult disease -- for the rest of my life. I tried to keep my focus on all of the positive things in my life and not let diabetes control me.
Q: What is it like to be a mompreneur, both professionally and personally?
A: I can’t really separate the professional from the personal, because the two coincide when it comes to inventing the i-port® and founding Patton Medical Devices. When I began working professionally to get the i-port® developed I had to quickly change gears from spending less time on my passion of teaching horse riding and more time spent in an office setting.
Working day-to-day with Patton Medical Devices opened my eyes to another passion, which is building something that will benefit others. I’ve always loved to volunteer and help out in non-profit settings, but this was different because it was my vision that I was building that was going to help a greater whole. In addition to bringing the product to fruition, I also wanted to incorporate great customer care as a benefit of the product. As someone living with diabetes, I knew how I would want to be treated by a company- and so building genuine customer service into the mission was just as important as developing the product.
Q: What about your career brings you the most joy?
A: My favorite part of this whole process has been meeting and talking to people who tell me that the i-port® has truly changed their lives.
Q: What advice could you offer to other women who have an idea, or have even started a small company, but want to grow and develop, as you did?
A: Take it one day at a time. If you truly believe in your product or what you are doing, you can make it happen. Don’t let skeptical people get in your way. I had so many people tell me I was crazy to pursue developing a medical product, but I knew there were so many people that could benefit. I wouldn’t take no for an answer.
Q: If you could do it all over again, would you change anything?
A: I can honestly say, I feel so lucky I wouldn’t change a thing!
Q: What is the hardest part about being a mother?
A: Finding a good balance.
Q: What is the easiest part about being a mother?
A: Enjoying every minute that I spend with my family.