Pacifiers have soothed babies for many years, yet it can be difficult for parents to find pacifiers in the darkness of night. To that end, inventor and entrepreneur Josh Wiesman invented the “#Smilo” line of glow-in-the-dark pacifiers. These pacifiers come in many sizes to grow with the child, and their soothing anatomical shape helps manage the often difficult and painful times of colic, reflux, and teething.

Inventing for the medical field

A born inventor, Josh Wiesman has been designing, licensing, and patenting products since he was a student at Tulane University. While still in college, he founded TWI, LLC., and went on to fund/support several startups and offer consultancy services for several prominent medical companies.

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In 2008, Josh landed the role of Director of Engineering at Portaero, Inc., which was a #Startup company based in the Bay Area of California. Through this startup, he was working on creating a device that would help treat people who are in therapy for emphysema.

Creating items for the medical field has always been Josh’s primary passion. To date, he has over twenty patents issued and many more pending; and most of these items are available globally. Josh has also written a number of papers that have been featured in medical publications. Josh believes in using his BS and MS in Biomedical Engineering to help people, and he views Smilo as an extension of this philosophy. Smilo is essentially a company that was founded with one purpose: to make life easier for both babies and their parents.

Josh Wiesman recently agreed to an exclusive interview where he discussed being an inventor, starting up Smilo, and more.

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Startups, pacifiers, and design

Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you think of the idea for the glow-in-the-dark pacifiers?

Josh Wiesman (JW): Problems deserve solutions. When my two kids were babies, my wife and I would take turns searching to find their pacifiers at 2 AM in a dark room. Smilo is about creating the best products for parents to help with every stage of childhood, so creating a stylish, but effective glow-in-the-dark pacifier was a must.

MM: What kinds of benefits have you found that #Children get from pacifiers?

JW: Pacifiers are a great tool for soothing fussy children, so when offering your child a pacifier, you want to make sure that it's not going to cause long-term problems. The shape, fit, and response of a pacifier in your baby’s mouth can influence how their palate develops and, ultimately, how their teeth will come in. Other pacifiers may collapse during soothing, which can cause the palate to cave-in over time. This can lead to a condition known as a cross-bite.

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Smilo's anatomical shape helps prevent this problem by expanding slightly during soothing. Smilo's flex and response pacifier help support the palate and the development of wide, healthy grins.

MM: How did you establish Smilo, why did you choose that name, and what are some of the biggest challenges that come with being an entrepreneur?

JW: The inspiration for creating Smilo came from years of developing category-leading products for other brands and watching my friends struggle to find the best products for their babies and kids. For most people, finding the right bottle or pacifier requires tons of trial and error. We want Smilo to be the brand we wished we had available when our kids were babies. Smilo is the brand that has the best products for each stage of childhood.

The name Smilo partially came from a design feature in our bottle. We are the only company to have a bottle buddy sleeve. This feature allows you to have a better grip on the bottle during feeding as well as the ability to carry your bottle with one finger. The bottle buddy finger loop makes it easier to carry your baby or move around with the bottle. It can also be used to connect the bottle to a diaper bag or similar. The finger loop actually looks like a smile / our logo. This was the inspiration for Smilo.

I think the biggest challenge of being an entrepreneur and running startup companies is the unknown. There are actually a lot of unknowns that you continually deal with. Will you be able to raise money, will people like your product, will people like your brand, what will be the new unknowns tomorrow? For me, this is also the best part of being an entrepreneur.

MM: What benefits do your pacifiers have that other companies lack?

JW: The shape, fit, and response of our pacifier help prevent the baby’s palate from collapsing during soothing. This flex and response help support the palate and the development of wide, healthy grins. Other pacifiers tend to be undersized, generically shaped and may collapse during soothing which can cause the palate to cave-in over time, also known as cross-bite.

MM: What have people’s responses been like thus far and are you planning to expand the line in anyway?

JW: The response has been amazing. In the last two months, we have received so many great stories of how our newborn pacifier has helped preemies develop their suckling, swallowing, and breathing skills faster and how our pacifier has been the only one their newborns would take. We have also received amazing stories about our bottle helping kids who had previously suffered from reflux or other feeding difficulties. This has been incredibly rewarding for us. We are planning to release several new products over the next few months. Most of these products will be complementary to our pacifiers and bottles, and some will be for toddler-age kids.

Smilo customers can look forward to a few holiday promotions this year, but mainly we are excited about the limited-edition products we will be releasing. Our limited-edition Halloween pacifiers sold out in just three days. Our design aesthetic, like our technology, is very different from our competitors and it was great to see our customers appreciate that. We are focused on delivering the most innovative and safe essentials for every stage of childhood. Part of that innovation includes graphics and industrial design.