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Pippy Sips is a startup developing a breast milk cooling and storage system
Steven Loeb speaks with Amberlee Venti, CEO and founder of Pippy Sips, a startup developing a breast milk cooling and storage system.
Our goal is to understand tech breakthroughs radically changing healthcare: the way we screen, diagnose and treat conditions and measure outcomes. And whether tech is helping or hurting our well-being physically and mentally.
Highlights from the interview:
- When venti had her first daughter, it took about six weeks for her to successfully breastfeed; when she had her second daughter, breastfeeding was fine, but she returned to work running a mental health clinic and, in between all of that, she was trying to pump and store milk. One big issue was the shared fridge where she stored her milk was in the room where they did group therapy, so it wasn't always appropriate to go in and out of there and the other option for storing her milk was a bulky campsite oil cooler, which is what most moms rely on.
- Venti found many crossovers between mental health and the hardware space, including that when you're designing a product you want to have empathy for the consumer that you're developing it for, and when you're a mental health professional the number one thing that you're doing is having empathy for other people and seeing how you can help them. She was also used to working in an under-resourced, overworked environment, which is startup life, where you have minimal resources, you're trying to build something, you're trying to make it great, you're working day in, day out. She was already scrappy, because she already knew what it was like to run a mental health clinic in Philadelphia, where she had to be scrappy every day.
- When Pippy Sips created its product, called Maia, five years ago, the consumer it was building around were moms like Venti who just didn't expect better. They just hoped it would get the job done but didn't think it wasn't going to be very innovative or have tech involved. The younger consumer, the moms now who are breastfeeding and pumping, expect really amazing products like the Willow Pumping Bra, or a product like Maia, so that breastfeeding won't stop them from going to work, hiking, traveling, and just doing all the things they did before they had kids.
- The biggest misunderstanding with the product is people thinking it’s just a stainless steel water bottle but for breast milk. While a stainless steel water bottle maintains temperature, it doesn't change temperature, so it's not going to get the liquid either super cool or super hot. Maia has a cooling pack which goes in the freezer overnight, and then it will last more than 16 hours. The biggest differentiator for Maia is its thermo lid that displays the temperature of the milk.
- When you're a pumping mom you're carrying around the pump, the tubing, the phalanges, the bottles, so the company wanted Maia to be compact and sleek and to make sure that everything was as small as it could be. Everything fits snug together, because that also helps with the cooling energy reaching the milk efficiently.
- In the future the company would like to add apps and software because when data is very important for pumping moms: sometimes moms are really worried about how much they're pumping, and whether the baby is getting enough and being very hard on themselves. Also, tracking how much you're pumping, how often you're pumping, how much the baby is getting, all of that stuff, is really important and when you're not sleeping at night handwriting that on a notepad is probably not the most effective method.
- It will also eventually add education and the ability for mothers to connect with lactation consultants to its platform. When you talk about accessibility, education is a huge aspect of it since babies don't come with manuals and neither does breastfeeding and pumping. Lactation consultants are very expensive and not all insurances cover it, so Venti would love to integrate a lactation consultant and to have a model where, with the purchase of Maia, you get a 15 minute or half hour session, or having a lactation consultant doing a virtual chat board.
Thank you to our sponsors: Advsr; a boutique M&A advisory firm. They wrote the book on startup M&A called "Magic Box Paradigm: A framework for startup acquisitions." Go to Amazon.com to get your copy. Also thanks to Stratpoint, an outsourced engineering firm and Scrubbed, an online bookkeeping firm. If you need affordable and quality engineering and bookkeeping, check them out. We highly recommend them!
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