Jessica Ching, founder of Eve Medical, has invented a time-friendly and less awkward way for women to carry out a Pap test – allowing them to test themselves in the comfort and privacy of their own home.

We recently spoke to Jessica about Eve Medical, her new product, the Eve Kit, and about her experience working with MaRS.

Tell us a little about the Eve Kit and how you came up with the idea

Eve Kit is a simple, convenient way for women to screen for the infections that can lead to cervical cancer and pelvic inflammatory disease from home. It will include a collection kit, laboratory testing, and will deliver results through an online portal. Women will be able to order the kit online at evekit.com and receive a collection kit at home. Users can then self-collect a sample and send it off to an accredited lab for testing.

When I was studying industrial design at OCAD University, I would have never imagined I would end up becoming an entrepreneur. It all started with a casual conversation with some female friends – the topic of Pap screening for cervical cancer came up, and no one really felt this was a great experience. In fact one friend had been actively avoiding it, just because it was “awkward”.

This is a really bad reason to take such a necessary risk, so I began some research to understand why 1/3 of women in Canada weren’t screening. My research partner, Nancy Seto, and I began to understand that it was less about women not wanting to screen and more that women were facing barriers to screening, such as a lack of time, transportation, childcare, etc. We started to think about how women could collect their own samples to screen in a more convenient way.

My Aha Moment with Jessica Ching of Eve Medical #MaRSaha

Is the product available internationally?

We have been using our device in several studies and pilots internationally. The product is CE marked and Health Canada has approved it for commercial sale in the European Union and Canada. As we expand in the future we’ll look to make the kits available in Asia too. 

When you set up the Indiegogo campaign, what did you think the outcome would be?

Our goal for the Indiegogo campaign was to raise capital to help with the production of Eve Kits, but we also wanted to gauge some general responses from women about the product. Our hope was that we could identify the type of women for whom this product resonated and work to understand them better.

An incredible part of launching the Indiegogo campaign was hearing from women who had experienced cervical disease themselves, or people who had a family member suffer from it. Some of these stories were close calls and others are more tragic.

This was important for me since sometimes when you’re working towards something day in and day out, you wonder whether what you’re doing is going to make a difference. Getting these personal messages sent me a clear “yes” message and helped strengthen my mission. I’m so grateful for the openness of the women who have been willing to share their experiences with us.

Virgin Unite, Entrepreneurship, MARS, Eve Kit, Jessica Ching

Virgin Unite, Entrepreneurship, MARS, Eve Kit, Jessica Ching

Were you surprised at how well the Indiegogo campaign performed?

We were cautiously optimistic when launching the campaign – you never really know how it’s going to go! We were initially concerned that our audience was only in Canada (and a few other countries) for regulatory reasons and so we tried to tailor the campaign accordingly. I’m not too surprised (only relieved!) that we reached our goal. What I was surprised by was the incredible support that we’ve received.

How did you become involved with MaRS?

I first got involved with MaRS through their Entrepreneurship 101 course. I then attended several workshops on topics including business modelling and sales. My co-founder, Evan Moses, and I later went through a program called Impact8 run by the MaRS Centre for Impact Investment, in which eight healthcare startup companies received a mentorship through advisors at MaRS and St Elizabeth.

How has the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing helped you?

They have helped us in many ways, including scholarships to events like SOCAP, opportunities for exposure and introductions to investors that have supported the company. An investment through the MaRS Catalyst Fund would help us continue the work that we’re doing internationally, and to bring Eve Kit to more women in Canada. 

Virgin Unite, Entrepreneurship, MARS, Eve Kit, Jessica Ching

Virgin Unite, Entrepreneurship, MARS, Eve Kit, Jessica Ching

What was it like being on the panel with Richard and Alison Lawton when the partnership between Virgin and MaRS was launched?

It was pretty amazing to be on a panel with Richard and Alison! Not only because I was so excited to be sharing a stage with such incredible, inspiring people, but also because of the commitment that Virgin Unite and MaRS were making to support Canadian entrepreneurs tackling big challenges.

What’s next for Eve Medical?

We’re working hard on finalising Eve Kit, which will be launched by the end of this year in Canada.

We will also continue to do research and work with screening programs globally, so self-sampling can be implemented as part of the screening guidelines. Ultimately, the goal is to facilitate access to sexual health screening and disease prevention to under screened populations.

MaRS Discovery District (@MaRSDD) in Toronto is one of the world’s largest urban innovation hubs. MaRS cultivates high-impact ventures and equips innovators to drive economic and societal prosperity. MaRS provides expert advice and market research, and makes connections to talent, customers and capital. 

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