Founder Edwina Sharrock says the decision to exit from her 8-year-old edtech startup Birth Beat is like selling a child.
The childbirth education platform has been acquired by Device Technologies for an undisclosed sum.
Birth Beat offers comprehensive, interactive digital childbirth education, as well as baby and child first aid courses, that have helped more than 5,000 impending mums and their partners to prepare for parenthood
The startup, launched in Tamworth, in the NSW New England region, in 2016, was born of necessity after the city’s private hospital shut down, putting an end to its specialised birth classes.
Sharrock, a Registered Nurse and midwife Edwina calls herself an accidental entrepreneur after she began teaching classes in her home without a business plan or the intention of becoming a startup founder.
The mother of two went from teaching on weekends to looking for a scaleable digital solution after seeing would be parents drive for up to eight hours to attend her her face-to-face classes.
The result, Birth Beat, launched in 2017 as an online online course. A year on, Sharrock won a Commonwealth Bank Innovation Award, and access to their innovation labs, followed by a 12-week stint in HCF’s Slingshot Accelerator.
She also had a crack at Shark Tank, with Boost Juices boss Janine Allis offering Sharrock $200,000 for a 10% stake, a deal she turned down. She did take on seed funding in 2018, but subsequently bought out the investor.
Her star continued to rise as winner of the NSW Telstra Business Women’s Small Business of the Year award in 2019, then being chosen as a Cartier Women’s Initiative Oceania Fellow in 2021.
Sharrock is now a director of the Hunter New England and Central Coast Primary Health Network, a member of the Advisory Board of the UNE SMART Region Incubator, and a Telstra Regional Advisory Committee member.
“Since launching Birth Beat, I’ve had incredible opportunities to work with other businesses and organisations,” she said.
“This transition will allow me to focus on helping other businesses, particularly women in business, grow and scale.”
Over the last three years, with the tailwinds of the pandemic also bolstered demand for online education, and Birth Beat signed multiple corporate and private hospital partnerships as well as attaing private health fund rebate status.
Sharrock admits she wasn’t looking to sell when Devine came knocking after she was introduced to CEO Michael Trevaskis, CEO of Device, by a mutual friend from her nursing days. But as the conversations continued, she saw their shared values and the opportunities to take Birth Beat to the next level with a company that specialises in building brands.
“By partnering with Device, Birth Beat will be able to make more of an impact and ultimately reach more women and their families, which has been my mission from day one,” she said.
Trevaskis said Device is always on the lookout for medical devices, innovations, systems, and services looking to deliver the best possible patient outcomes.
“Birth Beat is renowned for providing world-class childbirth education, helping improve health outcomes for mothers and families,” he said.
“Although we search the globe for the best, we’re proud to have found a world-class offering right here in Australia. This strategic investment reflects our commitment to growth and innovation in the health and wellness space. We are excited about the opportunities and positive impact this partnership will bring to families and the healthcare industry well into the future,” he said.
Sharrock will collaborate with Device on Birth Beat, but said that: “In some ways, it feels like I’m selling my third baby”.
Conscious of low investment levels for women-led startups, she’s keen to contribute to the broader business community through board work, consulting and mentoring, while keeping an eye on her offspring as Birth Beat makes its own way in the world.
“It’s been such a huge part of my life, of my family’s life, for more than eight years now,” she said.
“Much like a proud parent, though, saying goodbye to their child when they move away from home, I’m excited to see what this next chapter brings for Birth Beat.”