With a market of 2.3 billion people globally, the number of sufferers outstrips those for diabetes.
While social taboos around discussion are reducing as people become more open about personal matters, the culture shift still has a way to go.
And the area remains on the back burner medically, due to inadequate funding, fragmented care approaches, the debilitating side effects of many standard drugs and in some cases years of waiting for treatments.
Supporting healthy ageing and fitter bladders with comprehensive symptom-to-solution care are the London-based Jude’s inspiring targets after recently raising £3.4m ($4.2m) of seed funding.
“We are not about management, but prevention and treatment-led relief of overactive bladder symptoms and daily leaks,” explains Jude’s founder Peony Li.
“Our products bridge the gap between coping and difficult to tolerate medication, supporting where resources are lacking.
“Building our customer community with mentors and guides encourages product retention and our care plans include bladder retraining and pelvic floor exercises. We’re now developing a topical product to treat incontinence overactivity.”
Access to healthcare services, clinically-tested supplements and a support hotline are central to Jude’s offering.
Along with the US expansion there will be retailer pharmacy and direct-to-consumer launches over the coming months. Partnering with an e-pharmacy is also on the cards.
Already working with some NHS trusts and numerous clinics including Southampton University Hospital and the London Menopause Clinic, symptom tracking, prescriptions and advanced research will form part of Jude’s next growth stage.
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Its core customers are women, many struggling after a difficult childbirth or approaching the menopause, but also increasingly older people and social carers too.
Li’s own bladder infections as a teenager triggered the concept. “I thought the rest of my life would be a constant search for toilets when I was out and the misery of trying to pee”, she explains.
With a background in investment finance for entrepreneurs and women’s health products, during Covid she supplied protective equipment which led to the new purpose-driven mission with Jude.
Launched in January 2022, the company’s most successful product is its UK-made, vegan supplements with extracts of pumpkin seed and soy phytoestrogen to build bladder strength. Alongside these it also offers pants and pads.
Next year Li, who currently has a team of nine, is forecasting a £10m turnover.
Funding so far, including backing from Samos Investments and a grant from Innovate UK, totals £5.6m ($7m) with the latest round led by UK-based Eka Ventures and Joyance Partners which supports science and tech businesses dedicated to making lives happier.
Camilla Dolan, Eka founding partner, underlined Jude’s potential, saying: “We have been consistently impressed with Peony’s vision and the deep appreciation she has for building out a brand underpinned by a strong and supportive community and understanding the needs of the consumer.
“The size of the commercial opportunity is enormous. There is currently no scaled player that provides a holistic solution to prevention, treatment and management of incontinence and prostate related issues or a scaled player focused on healthy ageing.”
Next Jude will be launching on the QVC shopping channel and stepping up its customer diagnosis and health plan research.
And this month it is also tackling the public health crisis emerging from the loss of public lavatories in our towns and cities.
Together with charities it will be staging a public awareness campaign, backed by research that will reveal the damaging impact it’s having on the nation’s physical and mental health.
Wearejude.com, ekavc.com, joyancepartners.com
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