Putting Autism and Anxiety Under Pressure

by Mark Burdon

3 min read

According to 2014 statistics from the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States, about one per cent of the world’s population shows signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Many experts say these rates are growing. In addition, many other children and adults experience irregular health conditions such as:

  • Anxiety and Stress
  • Depression and Insomnia
  • Fetal alcohol syndrome
  • Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Asperger’s
  • Rett Syndrome

To help people better cope with these conditions, Vancouver’s Lisa Fraser developed Snug Vest, initially as her thesis project when she attended the Industrial Design Program at Emily Carr University. Lisa had years of experience working as a swimming and art instructor with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and she found the weighted vests in the marketplace didn’t provide the effective deep pressure therapy on kid’s bodies, which is calming. The typical weighted vests are often not user friendly, or uncomfortable, and in some cases even dangerous to the person wearing them.

Snug Vest is unique in the market, because the vest applies consistent deep pressure all over the torso, which helps reduce cortisol and adrenaline by those who wear it. This can help to reduce tantrums and anxiety, while improving focus and feelings of well-being. Former Calgary Flames and Canadian Olympian Theo Fleury is a proud owner and user of a Snug Vest.

Lisa founded Wearable Therapeutics Inc. and officially brought the Snug Vest into the marketplace after experimenting with hundreds of different prototype designs. Over the last two years, her product has won a number of industry awards. Lisa also had a successful pitch on CBC’s The Dragon’s Den this past season, but she opted for a different funding source with an industry partner.

How Long Have You Been Using QuickBooks?

Wearable Therapeutics has been using QuickBooks Online for about a year. They initially used the Desktop version, but Monica McMahen, Wearable Therapeutics’ Marketing and Sales Specialist, says the online version helps her team collaborate more effectively with their bookkeeper. They have achieved great success in selling Snug Vests from their e-commerce storefront, not only across Canada but to countries including the United States, Australia and the UK.

What are the main tasks that QuickBooks helps you perform?

“We use QuickBooks Online for a number of our business processes including invoicing customers, generating receipts, reconciling orders, and ensuring our budgeting processes are in line with the funding programs we’re involved in,” says Monica. “We really like the ease of use QuickBooks Online offers, and plan to take a look at how the mobile applications and complementary add-ons can help our business as we grow.”

What was your “Ah Ha” moment that made you decided to start your business?

“Many people, when they saw my designs and prototype vests, encouraged me to start a company to make Snug Vest on a large scale,” says Lisa. “I had letters from parents who found out about the design awards we won for Snug Vest in the news. They asked repeatedly for us to build our business.

I guess it was a series of “Ah ha” moments which led up to when we had our final product. We continue to work on ways to make our product better for our customers.”

Lisa and her team value Snug Vest customers so much, they not only feature some of their stories on their website, and they also offer a 60-day money back guarantee, which is very uncommon in the medical device industry.

What was your first “big win” moment as a business owner?

“The real “Ah Ha” moment was hearing from the first family of a young man to own a Snug Vest,” says Lisa. “They were telling us how his life was changing for the better by wearing the Snug Vest. It was really moving.”

What is the best advice you could give to someone just starting out?

“I would say that if you are looking to start a business, to find a good mentor,” says Lisa. “We have three initial great mentors who work with us. David Christie was instrumental in encouraging me to launch our company from the beginning.”

She also said she feels events which celebrate mentorship are extremely valuable, which is why she nominated one of her mentors, Keith Ippel for Startup Canada’s Canadian Mentorship Challenge in 2013.

Launching a business and choosing the right tools like QuickBooks Online to keep it running efficiently are key to Snug Vest’s success. Lisa and Monica have an uncommon passion for both their customers and products. They are dedicated to continue changing the quality of life for many people around the world.

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