TechTown and the Rocket Community Fund have partnered to shine the spotlight on business owners and ecosystem service providers who responded quickly to the COVID-19 pandemic. As we count down to the end of 2020, we will share the stories of these “Innovators” in an effort to elevate the ingenuity of Detroiters and lift spirits.
For our first Innovator Series spotlight, we spoke with Ramy Habib and Sean Carroll of HoneyCure by EnBiologics, Inc.
Q: Why do you do what you do, and how long have you been doing it?
A: We developed HoneyCure starting in 2016 and released it to market in 2017. In 2016, we started in TechTown’s Launch Detroit Program focusing on bringing a more useable clinical product to market. Our focus changed from a narrow pediatric focus in the early days to a broader wound care focus at the end of the program. Since then, we’ve focused on the veterinary care market which is underserved and greatly benefits from a natural wound care product like HoneyCure. Last year was our highest growth year before COVID, and this year we are on track to recover from COVID and grow!
Q: How did you adapt or pivot what you do since March?
A: HoneyCure took big sales losses starting March, like most other small businesses. Our biggest revenue sources rely on small business pet stores and many were either closed or had to restrict operations greatly. Being proactive business owners, we acted quickly to reduce expenses and extend our runway. Being biomedical engineers, we saw opportunities to volunteer time and expertise to assist the response to the pandemic. Sean started 3D printing PPE, and Ramy was one of the first and most active supporters of the effort. We also saw an opportunity in our filling and packaging equipment. Many businesses were investing in producing hand sanitizer, but few had experience in delivering this type of product in a user-friendly format. Materials were expensive, and many standard industry sources were unable to adequately assist the influx of business. By offering our expertise as equipment for contract packaging services, we were able to help small businesses bring better products to market, and execute on the hand sanitizer opportunities. We’re now moving to create a full business out of this with Camille Corr-Chism, an industry expert. This business addresses a core problem that many small businesses struggle with: how to produce well packaged, user-friendly products in small volumes at a price that allows for sustainable growth and operation. In other words, we’re a contract packaging service that seeks to offer services that can grow with a small business, not break them.
Q: What surprised you the most about how people reacted to the changes you made?
A: We have received enormous help from our professional network, family and friends. Everyone has helped in some way, and continues to offer to do so even now! TechTown is central to our success, as well, being the home of our business, the site of our expansion and linking much of our small business community here in Detroit together. TechTown continues to be helpful, and we’re incredibly grateful to the team. Our family and friends have helped from things such as working on our production line for a day, all the way to helping us put together important schematics for regulatory applications. It’s been difficult to start a new venture during the pandemic, but our support system is strong and has stood behind us!
Q: What has been the impact of your response to the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: We contributed to the response a couple of different ways. Sean’s 3D printing PPE effort raised almost 3x what he had initially thought possible. The group, supported significantly by Ramy and other local entrepreneurs, printed over 5,000 units of PPE. Additionally, during the pandemic, HoneyCure donated several units of product to local area rescues to help get injured animals care they needed in difficult times. The hand sanitizer co-packing initiative has grown to become its own company and promises to impact small businesses across the Metro area and more!