While training to become a nurse at Kingston University, Bennett was given a risk assessment essay requiring her to look for, and solve, a problem.
“Both NICE and the Department of Health recommend the use of ant-embolism stocking,” she said. “However, because of their tight nature many people give up on them because they are so difficult to put on.”
She even witnessed an elderly lady who, too afraid to ask her nurse for help, used them as curtain ties instead.
“This is where my invention comes in,” Bennett explained. “Through my general research I came to realise 25,000 die each year from hospital acquired deep vein thrombosis (DVT). They are going into hospital having these operations, which are successful, but they develop a blood clot. When they go home they might be sitting about, watching TV and not walking around. It is worse with older people – a lot of them aren’t being warned and they just give up. A clot develops and they die of DVT.”
Neo-Slip serves as a “simple and affordable” alternative to an old problem, consisting of a lubricated pouch that supports the application of the stocking.
Building on its launch, Bennett won a funding award from UnLtd and began supplying hospitals, independent pharmacies and nursing homes. Neo-Slip also recently expanded into the US and Canada. So far the product has won eleven awards for its ingenuity.
“I’ve been running my venture for two years,” Bennett said. “I sold my first Neo-Slip in 2012. Since then I have supplied over 9,000 units. I have a patent pending and a registered trademark.
“Demand for Neo-slip is growing. I’m supplying NHS hospitals and working with private hospitals. I’ve started to produce flight socks to prevent DVT. The flight socks are especially made for people that travel long haul for over four hours to wear them. I didn’t anticipate how much work goes into running the business. Now I need wider distribution, which is why I went on Dragons’ Den.”
Bennett stepped up to the plate and pitched her venture in front of the Dragons.
“It definitely was fun and took a lot of courage,” she said. “After doing this I feel like I can do anything.”
The Dragons were impressed, but the ever-tricky, and still pending, patent proved to be her downfall.
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Debroah Meaden was keen to see what protection she was getting and asked to take a look at her patent application.
“I think you have done something amazing,” Meaden said. “It’s brilliant, but I think you won’t make any money out of it because there are so many ways of doing it.”
In the end Bennett walked away with no investment.
“It was unfortunate not to get investment from the Dragons due to issues with the patent, but it is definitely still pending and I am very excited to see the application get accepted,” Bennett stated. “I have taken all the right steps to do so, using a patent attorney significantly increases my chances of a successful application. Now that the dust has settled with Dragons’ Den, I am looking forward to focusing on my position as a nurse and bringing Neo-Slip to as many patients as possible.”
She added: “The experience has helped me enormously and the response I have received since the show aired has been fantastic.”
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