There’s currently more than 18 million women in the United States that use the pill every day as their form of birth control. Of those 18 million, over 4.5 million are college women. Multiple studies have been conducted, and the results show that 98% of college women forget to take their daily pill at least once a month. This causes the pill’s effectiveness to drop which can result in numerous repercussions on one’s overall health.
Between balancing school, work and everything else, collegiettes often overlook the importance of routinely taking their pill. This is exactly why Kent State senior, Samuel Graska, came up with the idea of Alula. Alula is the first and only phone case to hold, protect and dispense women’s birth control pills. The entire point of this invention is to improve the overall daily health of women.
Her Campus: Tell me a little bit about Alula.
Samuel Graska: Alula is the first phone case that hold, protects, and dispenses women’s birth control pills! There is a lot that goes into and has gone into Alula, even with just the name itself. “Alula” being a palindrome in and of itself representing the never-ending cycle women endure, as well as its actual definition being a stabilizing bone in a bird’s wings that allows it to take flight. The idea behind Alula, giving women the freedom they need to go throughout their day without worrying about their birth control pills. And I would say overall, Alula represents the ability to stand up for women’s health and the advancement of women everywhere.
HC: What inspired the idea for Alula?
SG: So, Alula is the sister company of Case.MD, a medical device company focusing on the integration of emergency medical devices into cell phone cases. However, Alula was a separate idea. While doing research on Case.MD, I was sitting in the Undergraduate Student Government office and my business partner walked in in a hustle and said, “I forgot my birth control pill today, this is the second time in a row!” and I had a eureka moment. Such an astronomical problem that women, especially college women, face today.
HC: When was the idea for the Alula first formed? Tell me about the process taking this idea and actually creating a physical prototype.
SG: The conception of the idea for Alula itself came very quickly after the initial idea for Case.MD. We have been working on the design for what is nearing a year and a half. It took a lot of time on my part to figure out an original solid 2D design that I thought was protective of the medication as well as the phone case. Then once I was united with our third business partner, Justin Gleason, everything came to life in the world of 3D design. He was able to build a 3D model of the original design and 3D print iteration after iteration that I will talk about in the following question.
HC: Tell me about the product design. Who designed it? How did they come up with the design idea?
SG: So I am the original designer of Alula (which was originally called casecontrol, can you believe that?). I wanted to make the design simple and easy to access while being able to protect your phone effectively and this is where I came up with a very general dial design. Over time it has gone from 2D drawings and those efforts to kinda working 3D printed models with the help of Mr. Justin Gleason. Now together we were all able to come up with a design that is elegant, yet extremely effective and protective of not just your medication but also your phone. We have put a lot of thought, care and time into this design, making sure it is visually appealing without being necessarily 100% obvious of what it is holding inside. While all at the same time making sure the case stays as thin as possible. There has been well over 6 complete redesigns, and countless minor versions to see what little parts work and what don’t. But the standard of the dial on the back of the phone case has never changed. Needless to say we are very happy with the current design, and believe that it is more than capable to be the foundation for the alula 2.0 and the various versions that we see ourselves creating in the future.
HC: What is the mission of Alula? What do you hope to accomplish with this phone case?
SG: Alula’s mission as a product is to promote awareness and provide a solution to women’s reproductive health, improving daily compliance rate giving an overall increase to women’s daily health, and to give women everywhere a phone case they can love and trust. The company’s mission is a little broader: “We are passionately designing a future for the constant improvement of the daily health of women through medical, technical and social innovation.”
HC: What’s the next step for Alula? What are some of your future plans for the product?
SG: The next step is to launch a solid social media game here very soon, we’re pursuing IP (intellectual patent work) currently, and we will be launching an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign on April 8th! As long as the crowdfunding campaign goes well, we hope to be launching the product to the general public by August 2017 (with a corresponding app!) and then that starts the beginning of the process of how we stay on top of the market by producing the coolest, most elegant and smartest design. Be looking for some really cool tech additions in the near future as well!
HC: What are your overall goals for Alula?
SG: We want to create a product that women that use the birth control pill will love to help them increase their compliance rate. Because right now, college women have been studied and found that 98% forget at least one pill a month and every pill matters. We also want this to be our first job out of college and to use the funds to help advance women’s health through Alula and the possibilities there, as well as use the funds to advance Case.MD to provide people everywhere the medicine they need.
HC: What do you want women to know about Alula?
SG: Personally, I want them to know that Alula is all about them. This is an opportunity to have a relationship with a product and a company that is looking out for them and standing with them. Though we are not a politically based company, we believe in the optimal health and well-being of every individual and we believe it is our job to help our customers achieve that health and well-being to the best of our abilities. Our vision is that “We believe that women should be free to trust in a brand that works honestly to solve their issues effectively, sustainably and economically.” And that is something we stand by.
HC: Are you actively seeking donations to further the development of this product? If so, how can people donate?
SG: Once we launch the Indiegogo campaign we will be allowing people to donate directly, or donate as a backer in exchange for a product! Of course, if anyone is looking to contact us directly for a donation aside from the crowdfunding campaign they can feel free to donate on our website www.myalula.com. We will be having a donation ability on the Indiegogo campaign that will be sending 25% of those donations to Planned Parenthood specifically to the funds for free/reduced women’s birth control pills for those who cannot afford it and need it.
HC: How can students stay informed and up to date with Alula?
SG: They can follow us on social media! On Twitter and Facebook and they can sign up or “rsvp” on our website www.myalula.com and we will be sending newsletters weekly! Also, all the social media links are on the website if you want easier access. Instagram is coming soon!
HC: How and when can students buy Alula? Any ideas on what the retail price will be?
SG: So if they would like to be one of the first to get Alula they can be one of our backers of our Indiegogo that they most definitely will want to sign up online/follow us on social media to stay updated on. The price for the traditional Alula will be $30 on Kickstarter, and we plan to retail for $35. Once we have all of our start-up costs paid off we will be lowering the price of the case to $25 as we work on creating additions to Alula…the next version…and creating a second version! We want to make sure women can afford the product, and will be doing everything we can to give them an affordable product that is high in quality.
There will be and Alula launch event on April 7, 2017 at 9:00 pm. Check the Alula website for more details on how to register.
Follow Alula on social media to stay updated:
Instagram (coming soon): @myalula_