Jin Lee, Ph.D.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that approximately 13 percent of children between the ages of three and 17 percent have a developmental or behavioral disability, such as autism, intellectual disability or attention-deficit and hyperactivity disorder — with many of them going undiagnosed before they reach 10.Early detection has been shown to significantly improve outcomes and reduce the overall cost of intervention, saving an average of $23,000 per child, but according to the American Academy of Pediatric (AAP), 52 percent of pediatricians don’t have either the time or expertise to fully screen their patients for developmental issues.
In order to address the need for access to developmental information, San Francisco-based startup Qidza offers a mobile platform that enables parents to work with their physicians to improve their children’s overall health and well-being.
Founded in 2015 by Oxford University-trained developmental psychologist Jin Lee, Ph.D., consumer baby-space entrepreneur Jonathan Tuttle and former NASA bioengineer AvishaanSethi, Qidza’s first app BabyNoggin allows parents to monitor their baby’s developmental milestones through step-by-step video instructions that are based on CDC and AAP guidelines .
“Our mission is to bridge the gap between day to day parenting and children’s development science in order to empower parents and caregivers to support the healthy development and growth of the children they love,” Lee said.
Lee drew the inspiration to create Qidza from her and her husband’s personal experience of planning to expand their family. It was during this time when she soon noticed other expectant and new parents couldn’t identify the different stages and milestones of a baby’s development process.
“When my husband and I were thinking to have kids, he asked, ‘What can a six-month-old baby do? How about a four-month-old vs. nine-month?’ I realizedthere are way too many information for parents to grasp on a baby’s development,” Lee said.“I started talking to new parents and quickly found out that it’s a huge unmet need. Soon after, I quit my corporate venture capital job to follow my passion and expertise.”
Since the company’s inception, it has steadily gained traction, turning ideation to paid contracts with major hospitals over the span of eight months, and has continued to grow with thousands of app downloads of BabyNoggin. With no end in sight for Qidza’sprogress, the three-person team now sets their sights on the Texas Medical Center for more growth through the TMCx Innovation Program.
“I really like how it’s a small accelerator […] and accessible they are at all time,” Lee said. “[We were soon introduced and now working closely with TMC personnel on how to structure our value proposition to create a better product for pediatricians. Their overall mentorship and eagerness to help,is highly valuable.”
Lee said she hopes to use this opportunity to tap into the TMC’s network of hospitals and develop new partnershipswith pediatric programs, including Texas Children’s Hospital and Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, to pilot its efficacy, co-create new products, and expand Qidza’s reach and help all new parents across socioeconomic statuses better understand and improve their baby’s development.
“Our vision is for a world where early detection and early treatment of developmental issues is something every parent can participate in regardless of social or economical background,” Lee said.
Lee and her team are now developing the second version of Qidza’sBabyNogginwith updated content and integrated app features based on input and feedback from other mothers, pediatricians, and developmental psychologists.