business

N.Y. pediatrician takes child's play to the mat

Inspiration for the educational toy came from the experiences of the physician's 3-year-old son.

By Victoria Stagg Elliott — Posted March 1, 2010

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Making sidelines pay

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Doctors who branched out beyond running their practice tell why they did it, how they did it, and what you should know before you do it.
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Name: Jennifer Canter, MD, MPH

Specialty: Pediatrics

Location: Valhalla, N.Y.

Company: Play This Way Every Day (link). The company develops and sells educational toys.

Annual revenue: The first product, the U-Play Mat, was launched September 2009. Sales figures are not available.

Why she started the business: Dr. Canter, the mother of two sets of twins, was at a speech therapy session with one of her 3-year-olds in September 2008. Her son sat on a large rectangular piece of paper trying to carry out an exercise with various cards. The paper tore. The cards wouldn't stay put, and her child got frustrated.

Dr. Canter came up with the idea for a sturdier mat that wound around the child and had 15 plastic sleeves where various cards could be slotted. The arrangement also made it easier for parents or professionals to sit directly across from the child and facilitate the chosen activity.

She created the U-Play Mat, which comes with up to eight sets of 30 picture cards and is suitable for children age 1 to 5. The accompanying instructions for several speech and language development activities have been translated into Spanish. A special supplement with information about how children with autism spectrum disorders can use it is also available for download from the company Web site.

Because Dr. Canter works full-time as a physician, several of the business's activities, such as fulfillment and customer service, are outsourced.

Why she keeps practicing: "I would never give up my medical practice. It's a very interesting job. The business is truly a side business."

Words of wisdom: "Every dollar you spend is an important dollar when you are starting a business. It's very important to understand how you are spending your money. Ask multiple questions. Make educated decisions."

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