By Lisa Brown
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Empowering women to have a little more privacy when pumping! Whoohoo!!! Instead of having bottles hang from a mother’s breasts when pumping for breast milk, Babyation’s new breast pump (which includes an app) has a breast shield worn under a bra that’s attached to thin tubing that transports breast milk to bottles. Samantha Rudolph’s crowdfunded invention offers women a little more discretion when pumping because mom doesn’t have to remove her shirt.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Babyation, the St. Louis-based maker of a new breast pump that promises a quieter, more discreet device than existing pumps, surpassed its fundraising goal on Kickstarter and plans to ship products in March 2017.
The startup said Thursday that it raised $81,045 on the Kickstarter crowdfunding website from 427 backers after 30 days, after initially setting a $50,000 goal. The app-enabled breast pump product is available for pre-sale for $400 on the company’s website, babyation.com.
Co-founder and CEO Samantha Rudolph said the Kickstarter funding will allow the company to finish the pump’s design for production, with production beginning within six to nine months. Manufacturing will be in the U.S., but a site hasn’t yet been selected. “Our goal is to go as close to St. Louis as possible,” Rudolph said.
Instead of having bottles hang from a mother’s breasts during pumping, Babyation’s design includes a breast shield worn under a bra that’s attached to thin tubing that transports breast milk to bottles.
“The current way creates a barrier because a mother has to remove her shirt and it’s very difficult to go on with your life while pumping,” Rudolph said. “Ours offers discretion because you don’t have to remove your shirt and it’s lower profile.”
Rudolph, a former director of business development at ESPN, came up with the idea for a new breast pump design after reading a New York Times blog in March 2014 on the noisiness and poor design of existing pumps.
Rudolph turned to her engineer husband, Jared Miller, to develop a new design, and Babyation was born.
Babyation was founded while the couple lived in Connecticut but they moved to St. Louis in November after winning a $50,000 Arch Grant last year. The nonprofit Arch Grants group was founded in 2012 to fund entrepreneurial activity in St. Louis.
“The amount of buy-in that people in St. Louis have shown for entrepreneurs has been incredible,” Rudolph said. “We had more progress here in three weeks than 18 months in Connecticut.”
After starting the company, the couple had their first child, Exton, who’s now eight months old and helping Babyation develop new product ideas.
“We definitely have a product road map and plan to expand Babyation beyond breast pumps,” Rudolph said. “We think there are a lot of opportunities for innovation in the baby space.”
Babyation is based in the T-Rex tech incubator downtown at the Lammert Building at 911 Washington Avenue, along with 153 other businesses. T-Rex is embarking on an $8 million capital campaign to fund a renovation of the eight-story Lammert Building the nonprofit owns, said T-Rex’s community director Kathleen Bauer.
T-Rex offers startups like Babyation the ability to grow their business in close proximity to other startups and entrepreneurial support organizations including Arch Grants, other accelerators and a venture capital firm.
“It’s really a dense little city in here,” Bauer said. “Having that accessibility where you can bump into people and having those resources at your fingertips is important. It’s that community piece that’s really unique.”