By Ryan Waldrep, Assistant Director for Entrepreneur and Small Business Development
Atlanta, Fulton County | Region 3
For many of us, aches and pains are a part of everyday life. Maybe it’s a bruise from last night’s pickup basketball game, a sore joint to let you know that the weather is changing, or a bee sting you got while working in the garden.
But what if your pain stems from something a little more serious, like regular needle sticks or injections? Dr. Amy Baxter was searching for this very answer when she developed the idea for the Buzzy.
Buzzy/MMJ Labs, LLC was founded 2006 by pediatrician and emergency physician Amy Baxter in Atlanta. She previously developed a device to block the pain from children’s vaccines but wanted to study how it would work for IV access.
There was a federal grant for small business research and development, but in order to qualify she had to commit to owning her own business. MMJ Labs received the grant, and Amy and her team got to work.
The idea behind the Buzzy is pretty cool, literally. Buzzy uses a combination of ice and vibration to block sharp sensations. It desensitizes the area directly where it is placed and an inch or two “downstream.” It has been studied for injections, IVs and phlebotomy and gives the same pain relief as numbing cream (without the mess!).
The medical concept is called gate control. When you send more motion and cold information through the brain’s “gate,” like rubbing a bumped elbow, only the strongest sensations get through. By sending more motion information to the brain, the pain gets stopped at the gate.
The Buzzy has been very successful. Since its initial launch on May 1, 2009, more than 70,000 Buzzy units have been sold and sales this year are expected to top the $1 million mark. Most of the Buzzy sales are to individuals who use it for IVs, first aid or medical injections at home.
MMJ Labs has been the recipient of various forms of assistance as the venture has grown. “We’ve had phenomenal support from the Global Center of Medical Innovation (GCMI) from the inception of the company,” said Dr. Amy Baxter.
MMJ Labs now has five full-time employees and has actively exported their products since 2010. From their first international distributor in Australia to more recent candidates in Brazil, the Middle East and the European Union, the company has consulted with the knowledgeable trade managers at the Georgia Department of Economic Development.
“With help from GDEcD, we have entered markets we would not otherwise have the resources to explore including Brazil.” -Jennifer Tipping, Director of Business Development, MMJ Labs.
“In the last six years, our export sales have grown from less than five percent of sales to nearly 20 percent,” she said. “We credit this growth opportunity in large measure to the consultative services provided by GDEcD.”
“The entrepreneurial microcosm [of Georgia] is astounding,” said Dr. Amy Baxter, CEO and Founder, MMJ Labs. “From GCMI to ATDC to Atlanta Tech Village to the CEO Council and TAG, we have such a rich milieu of wisdom to draw from.”
This network has helped with many aspects of the business. MMJ Labs is also an active member of the Atlanta Metro Chamber and was recognized as one of Georgia’s 2015 Small Business Rock Stars honorable mentions.
So make sure your first aid kit includes a Buzzy! Check them out online and in wards and gift shops in local hospitals and clinics.
Got a Small Business question? Start the conversation! Contact Ryan Waldrep, Assistant Director for Entrepreneur and Small Business Development, at (229) 868-3428 or [email protected].