10 min 37 sec

Physician Designs Plush Toys to Teach Anatomy

A physician designs and manufactures plush toys in the shape of human organs. They’re used to teach kids about the human body and as “get well soon” gifts for hospital patients.
Children Education Health & Wellness Manufacturing Product

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What It's About

Punny plush toys that take the edge off of hospital visits.

Business Model
Skills Required
Design & Creativity
Profit Potential

Words of Wisdom

One thing that I thought was really brilliant on Ronak's part was setting a hard limit on her investment and risk. The $10,000 she invested was what she felt she would be okay never recouping, and she stuck to it. It's important to remember that success is never guaranteed and that there's always a risk starting something up. Don't ever feel that you have to go more all in than you're comfortable with!

Fun Fact

Here are some fun facts about neurons! To start, there are A LOT of them—approximately 100 billion neurons make up the big smart brain of yours. They're also even smaller than the period at the end of this sentence. But don't let their size fool you, just one of these little guys can go as fast as 268 km/hr. Now that is impressive!

Notes from Chris

Episode 634

By day, Dr. Ronak Mehta is a physician at a Veteran Affairs Hospital in Utah. As a doctor, she’s spent a good chunk of her life helping those who need it. More recently though, she decided to get into the side hustle game and do something for herself. And the beginning of this story takes us back to her time in medical school, the better part of a decade ago.

While studying, Ronak wanted to help children understand the human body. She decided the best way to do that was to write an educational kids book. She titled it “The Extraordinary Expedition Into The Human Body.” The goal was to create a book that was similar to the old Dr. Seuss stories. The characters in the book would be walking, talking, cartoon versions of organs in the human body.

However, Ronak wasn’t an illustrator. Not by a long shot! So, for the illustrations, she turned to Upwork, a popular outsourcing website. There, she found an illustrator who was able to create the characters of heart, lung, bladder, and uterus. She decided on an ebook format for easy distribution but, alas, unlike Dr. Seuss, it wasn’t a best seller.

Still, the lackluster performance didn’t phase her. She thought of one of Dr. Seuss’ best quotes:

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself… any direction you choose”—so it was time to steer in a new direction.

The organ illustrations weren’t created in vein. Ronak had fallen in love with the cartoon organ characters. Her hope was to someday create plush toys in their likeness. She thought they could serve as a cute get well present for someone who was hospitalized or preparing for surgery.

The idea stayed with her through graduation and didn’t go away even after years of working as a physician. But it wasn’t until earlier this year that she decided to bring her characters to life. She decided to call the business, Nerdbugs.

To get things going Ronak set aside $10,000. It was a lot of money but she looked at is as an educational expense. If NerdBugs didn’t work out, then so be it. She’d still be OK, and always had her full-time job as a physician.

With the assistance of some Google Adwords and some Amazon Sponsored Ads, Ronak ended up making a sale her first day. But at the time of recording, that was just over 3 months ago! Sales have continued to trickle in and, over the past three months, she has tripled sales each month selling several hundred Nerdbugs to people all around the world.

Most sales have come from people buying them as gifts for folks in the hospital, or that are soon to head into surgery. And despite only being three months in, Ronak expects that that initial $10,000 investment will be fully returned to her within the next two months.

Once that milestone is reached, she plans to extend her line of products to include adorable plush versions of a pancreas, liver, and bladder. And she also hopes to partner with Children's hospitals so that she can give Nerdbugs as a donation to hospitalized children.

Ronak, thanks for sharing your side hustle story with us. The first 3 months have already been successful for you, and for the future, our team was reminded of another Dr Seuss quote:

“You're off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So... get on your way!”

And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)


  • Nerdbugs: Urine for a real treat when you head over to Ronak's website to check out these adorably punny plush toys!
  • Shopify: Ronak used Shopify to setup the website for Nerdbugs, and they're offering a 21-day trial and exclusive discount for all Side Hustle School listeners!
  • Upwork, Google, Alibaba, & Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA): The four common tools that Ronak used to get Nerdbugs up off the ground and into our hearts


Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,


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Quote of the Day
"Going into this entire endeavor I told myself, I will invest 'X amount' of dollars, and I need to be ok now with losing that because there is always a chance that this will not succeed. Nothing in life is a guarantee, and in the event that this doesn't work out, it's ok. I came to terms with not seeing that money again once I made the decision to invest it in myself."
—Ronak Mehta #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau