How Lilu is trying to make breast pumping more manageable for moms
This Brooklyn startup is trying to ease the burden of mothering an infant.
March 12, 2019
Founded by Adriana Ortiz and Sujay Suresh, Lilu has created a bra that attaches to a breast pump, allowing women to use their hands while pumping, potentially saving hours each day. We talked to co-founder Sujay Suresh about how the company came to be and what their goals are.
DBP: Explain the problem you saw in the world?
Sujay Suresh: Lilu is building technology to empower mothers. Our first product is a hands-free pumping bra. My co-founder Adriana and I created the company right out of graduate school. We took a robotics class together and for our final project we realized we both wanted to do something specifically for women. Adriana had worked at Morgan Stanley for a couple years and saw colleagues come back from maternity leave and struggle with the whole process of motherhood and work, and was interested in doing something with breast pumps. Our professor had just come back from paternity leave and liked the idea. I did some research and the first six or seven pages of Google were all moms complaining about pumping. We sent out a small survey on Facebook about the problems of breast pumping and received an overwhelming response with 600 or 700 moms talking about the amount of time they lose to pumping.
DBP: How does this solve it?
SS: The product is a bra that assists pumping. Moms will still use their existing breast pump, and the bra initiates the breast massage. Combining compression and massage technology, our bra maximizes milk output. Our tests show moms getting 30 percent more milk with our bra than with breast pumps alone. Moms today are using their hands the whole time they are pumping, which can be for two to three hours a day.
DBP: What did you do before this?
SS: Before this my background was in engineering. I come from India, where I started a nonprofit to help the victims of sexual harassment and rape, and then came to the United States for graduate school. Adriana, prior to her masters in product design, graduated from MIT and then went to Morgan Stanley.
DBP: Why did you choose to be based in Brooklyn?
SS: We’re based in a WeWork in Downtown Brooklyn. We were originally working in Manhattan as part of an accelerator program. We wanted to stay in New York and when we saw the Downtown Brooklyn location we really liked it because of its accessibility to Manhattan. Then we realized there’s a lot of other benefits, like there’s a lot of diversity and it feels like everyone is willing to help. We saw a lot of tech startups that are in the same boat as we are and trying to go through the problems together. We are working out of WeWork Labs and the idea of the incubator program is they bring in mentors from big companies and they help with marketing and sales. Which is exactly what we need at this stage.
DBP: What are you focused on for next steps?
SS: We’ve been working toward beta testing with our moms for the last few months. I was in China for the last two months finalizing our supply chain. We are going to launch on Kickstarter next month and hope to ship in the spring.