Founder Profile: Pippy Sips

 
Pippy Sips on Wefunder

Maia cools and monitors breastmilk so it's safe all day. Like a fridge that fits in your purse.

Summary

Breast pumping for the working mom can be incredibly inconvenient and cumbersome. The team at PippySips wants to change that. Their sleek products keep breastmilk cool for long periods of time and store it inconspicuously. 

 

We sat down with Amberlee and Joe Venti to learn more about how their company came to be, how they plan on allocating funds raised in this round, and more-


Kingscrowd
For those who don’t know, what is the genesis story of pippy sips?
Amberlee

In 2016, I gave birth to my second daughter.  After three months of maternity leave, I returned to work committed to breastfeeding for at least the full year recommended by the CDC.  To do so required using a breast pump, a process laden with challenges that can be exacerbated by the specifics of one’s workplace. In my case, I ran a fast-paced outpatient mental-health clinic in a part of Philadelphia hit particularly hard by the opiate epidemic.  In between helping people get mental-health treatment and managing walk-in substance-abuse crises, I exasperated myself thinking about the army of parts needed to pump (breast pump, flanges, tubing, storage bottles, refrigeration/cooling mechanism, etc.). It was easy to forget one or more parts on a given day.  Another challenge was cooling my milk after it was pumped: I often couldn’t access the shared work fridge because it was in the room where we held group therapy. On top of all of that, I wished there was a way to more discreetly pump and store milk at work because I often felt awkward juggling my clear milk bottles while supervising my staff.   Additionally, I often wondered why the choice of aesthetic for pumping accessories seemingly had to be ‘hospital equipment’ or ‘baby product’; why not have an aesthetic that appeals to moms? 

 

On one not-so-unusual day at work, I was dealing with requests from therapists and doctors, a crisis in the waiting room, and breasts engorged with milk.  And of course, I’d forgotten my cooler and couldn’t access the shared work fridge. In a moment of near- delirium, I looked at my S’well water bottle and thought: “There are so many sleek, temperature-optimizing products out there for beverages; why don’t we have something like that for breastmilk?” (maybe not those exact words, but you get the gist).  This “a-ha” moment started our journey toward forming Pippy Sips and creating Maia, the first-ever portable storing, cooling, and monitoring system for breastmilk.

Kingscrowd
How do you plan on allocating funds raised in this round to scale the business?
Amberlee

With the funds raised, we will be able to complete our first production run of Maia, build an e-commerce platform, develop a more comprehensive marketing plan/advertising strategy, execute said plan/strategy, and sell as many units of Maia as we can.  In sum, we will be able to make Pippy Sips commercially operational.

Kingscrowd
Do you have any competition, if so, how do you differentiate?
Amberlee

There is another breastmilk cooling device on the market.  A key differentiator is that, unlike Maia, the competitor device has no built-in mechanism for monitoring the temperature of breastmilk.  Also, Maia cools milk all day with a single, small steel cooling puck that is ‘re-frozen’ in the fridge overnight, whereas the competitor device apparently must be filled with ice cubes and cold water at least once per day.  Furthermore, Maia will be built with domestically sourced materials and will be tested in the United States; the other device appears to be manufactured outside the country. For all of those reasons, Maia has a higher retail price, which is consistent with our intent to position as the premium option.   

Kingscrowd
How long does the cooling mechanism last?
Amberlee

Maia keeps breastmilk at a safe temperature (59 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler) for 24 hours – because you never know what twists and turns life will hand you on a particular day.  The steel cooling puck should be ‘re-frozen’ in a standard freezer overnight. 

Kingscrowd
Who is your target customer?
Amberlee

We will target working, breastfeeding moms ages 25-45, though not to the exclusion of all moms who use a pump.  Maia will help these women-on-the-go find a quick, efficient way to store their milk in between meetings, or offsite when there’s no access to a fridge, or in a pinch when they are stuck at the office later than expected. 

Kingscrowd
How does maia integrate with other popular pumping tools and accessories?
Amberlee

Maia readily connects to standard-mouth pump-flanges (e.g., brands like Medela, Ameda, and Evenflo), and with a small twist-on adapter connects to wide-mouth pump-flanges (e.g., brands like Spectra, Lansinoh and Philips Avent). 

Kingscrowd
Do you have any early reviews of the product?
Amberlee

We are raising money to build our product, so no one has tested a finished version of Maia.  That said, moms who used our early prototypes were thrilled with Maia’s features and performance.  And the product has only improved since then.

 

Kingscrowd
What are the biggest risks associated with your business?
Amberlee

To scale this business in the manner we envision may require outside investment.  Unfortunately, access to capital can be particularly difficult for women-led companies.  For example, last year such companies received less than 3% of VC money available in the landscape.  We are nevertheless optimistic that the landscape, like attitudes toward the capabilities of female founders, will – sooner rather than later – change for the better.  

 

In addition, it is possible that Congress will pass much-needed, comprehensive parental leave reform.  If working moms can breastfeed at home for 30+ weeks while on paid leave (like their counterparts in Japan, South Korea, Chile, and numerous European countries), then it will be less likely that those moms will need a breast pump and relevant accessories like Maia.  

Kingscrowd
How is your team uniquely positioned to win out in this market?
Amberlee

We are passionate about our goal of making life easier for nursing moms who pump.  And we work extremely hard to meet that goal. Ultimately, we agree with the statement that “Winning companies have winning products.”  We will prevail in large part because we have the best ideas. We also believe that women are increasingly looking for products, like Maia, that are made by other women based on shared experiences and empathy.

Kingscrowd
What does your business model look like?
Amberlee

Initially the model will be DTC through an e-commerce platform.  We aim to eventually incorporate B2B sales after making relationships with companies interested in supporting their breastfeeding employees.

Kingscrowd
As you think about the business 5-10 years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like?
Amberlee

In addition to Maia, Pippy Sips has in its ideas portfolio a number of prospective SKUs that will completely revolutionize the breast pump accessory market.  Some of these ideas are extremely capital-intensive. Between years 5 and 10, we will thus be looking at opportunities to partner with larger companies (e.g., pump makers) that have the resources and established distribution channels to help us roll out our family of products.      


A full rating on Pippy Sips will be published in the coming week. We at KingsCrowd are excited to see where Amberlee, Joe, and the team take the company. Pippy Sips is currently raising funds on the Wefunder portal. Get in while you still can!


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About: Olivia Strobl

Olivia comes to KingsCrowd with a background in venture capital and technology. She spent time at Glasswing Ventures, an AI-focused venture fund in Boston, before joining the KingsCrowd team. There she helped develop machine learning algorithms for the opportunity qualification of preseed and seed-stage startup companies. Prior to her time at Glasswing, Olivia worked in a lab studying the neural correlates of attention. She holds a degree in Neuroscience from Wellesley College.

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