business

Arizona doctor comes up with a hands-free way to keep cool during workouts

It may seem a trifle odd, but a headband straps a water bottle to the neck and head.

By — Posted Jan. 2, 2012

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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: Eva Liang, MD

Specialty: Ophthalmology

Location: Scottsdale, Ariz.

Company: SWIH, which stands for "so what it's hot," sells a headband that holds a water bottle to aid in cooling and hydration during physical activity. Headbands are available in 12 colors from the company's website (link).

Annual revenue: $7,000

Why she started the business: Dr. Liang is an avid in-line skater. But living in Scottsdale, where the average high temperature is more than 100 degrees in the summer, made the activity a challenge. She realized that many people exercising and trying to stay cool -- herself included -- carried a frozen or chilled water bottle that they drank from and frequently placed against their necks and heads.

"I would stick the frozen bottle against my neck, and I wanted to keep it there all the time," she said.

Dr. Liang designed the SWIH to do just that. There are many products in the marketplace to help runners and other active people carry drinking water, but most involve attaching a container around the waist or back. She wanted one that would cool as well as carry water. She launched SWIH, which is manufactured in China, in 2010.

The SWIH can be worn around the head or neck and used under a helmet, if need be.

Dr. Liang owns a number that she wears frequently, even when not exercising outside. She has sold several thousand, although efforts have been hampered by other commitments. She works full time and has three children under the age of 4, but she hopes to devote more time to her company in the future.

"It's a lot harder than I thought it would be," Dr. Liang said. "I had no idea that it was this hard to sell something, and I don't really have the time to push it. Most people are not early adopters, and it does look crazy. I feel if more people tried it, they would probably accept it better."

The SWIH is adjustable because getting the tension right is important to prevent the water bottle from injuring the cervical spine.

Why she still practices: "I think it's a privilege to be able to help people see. I don't see myself giving up ophthalmology any time in the near future."

Words of wisdom: "There's a reason why there's a huge marketing industry. You really have to do your homework and be willing to do the time."

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