Breast Health App Sends DU Seniors to Paris
At first, there was some confusion as Amelia Coomber unwrapped her Christmas gift.
A homemade salve? For her breasts?
“Dude, I've never once put anything on my boobs,” she remembers saying. “[But] this is amazing. It smells like a bakery on your chest.”
Pretty soon Coomber, a senior in the Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science, was cooking up something more potent. She went home, bought a web domain and set up a rough website.
Boobi Butter was born. And soon, a related mobile app was developed and introduced, leading to an invitation to Paris, where she’ll join co-founder Julia Farrell in representing Colorado in an international innovation competition.
“People don’t talk about their boobs,” Coomber says. “We really have the opportunity to get somebody to feel their boobs and detect cancer early.”
The premise behind Boobi Butter is prevention. Though one in eight women will contract breast cancer in their lifetimes, most cases occur after age 40.
To Coomber and Farrell, a senior majoring in computer science and mathematics, that means women their age are often overlooked. Just 4 percent of breast cancer cases occur in women under age 40. However, those cases tend to be more aggressive and diagnosed later, according to the Young Survival Coalition.
“Translating awareness into action, that’s what we do,” says Farrell, whose own mother was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. “Everyone knows breast cancer exists, but how do I protect myself personally? We’re trying to bridge that gap.”
Boobi Butter products attempt to do just that. The organic ingredients are intended to keep breast tissue healthy by decreasing inflammation and increasing circulation, but the real purpose is to familiarize women with their bodies while making monthly breast exams a more comfortable experience. “It doesn't have to be this scary thing,” Coomber says.
Accomplish that, Coomber and Farrell reason, and women will be more likely to know when something isn’t right. Other products for sale on the Boobi Butter website, including stickers and mirrors, should serve as reminders to conduct a monthly self-exam.
The duo advanced their concept at Denver’s Startup Weekend Women’s Edition in February. Over the course of 54 hours, Coomber and Farrell developed an app to complement their product.
Norma, as the free app is known, reminds women to make regular exams a priority. It also provides a platform for tracking and recording results. Like many popular exercise apps, Norma is designed to create a community. Users can initiate “Boobie Bumps” to remind their friends to stay on top of their health.
Both Farrell and Coomber — who call themselves the “Boobi Babes” — are so passionate about the products, they plan to continue working on the business full time after they graduate.
But first, there’s the trip to Paris for the international finals of the startup competition.
“There is not a more fulfilling thing in our lives right now,” Coomber says. “In Paris, we’ll have another audience to just push this movement out to. It is our passion. And this is so neat that we’ve been able to work on it.”
Update: The Boobi Butter/Norma team placed third in the Global Startup Weekend Women Big Final in Paris. Twenty-two teams from 15 countries competed.