Maryland internist finds inspiration in her grocer's freezer

She and a business partner knew there must be a better way to reduce pain and swelling than bags of frozen peas.

By Victoria Stagg Elliott — Posted Nov. 7, 2011

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Making sidelines pay

Business Pitch

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: Carol Baltazar, MD

Specialty: Internal medicine, but she primarily provides nonsurgical cosmetic procedures.

Location: Columbia, Md.

Company: TheraPearl is a reusable hot/cold pack designed to mimic the bags of frozen peas that can be used to care for an injury (link).

Annual revenue: Revenue was not disclosed. The company, which has 15 staffers, has sold more than 1 million packs this year.

Why she started the business: Dr. Baltazar was always giving bags of frozen peas to her patients who needed to reduce pain or swelling from the procedures she performs. One patient, Gina Dubbé, scoffed at the frozen vegetables. They decided to develop an alternative.

"Most ice packs, when you take them out of the freezer, are rock hard," Dr. Baltazar said. "They don't conform to the area that I want to provide relief. I started thinking that there should be a cold pack out there in the market that was really more like a bag of peas."

The two founded a company to develop gel beads that could be heated or cooled, and they designed various packs to contain the beads.

"I tried it out on a few patients. It was well-received, and people started coming to my office and asking where they could get it," Dr. Baltazar said.

Dr. Baltazar and Dubbé launched the company in 2008, selling TheraPearl to local doctors' offices and spas. The product comes in several shapes, such as a frog and a pig for children, and can be purchased on several websites.

Why she still practices: "It's what I love to do."

Words of wisdom: "Starting a business always seems like a daunting task. It can seem overwhelming, but you never know what doors will open for you."

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