Last September, an article by Emily Chang (if you haven’t read her book Brotopia, it’s a quick and fascinating read) and Ellen Huet was featured in Bloomberg entitled, “A Smart Breast Pump: Mothers Love It. VCs Don’t” – Link here.
The article features the Naya breast pump, a $999, new and improved breast pump that struggled to get interest from the VC community because it was a women-focused product and most VCs are not women (my summary take).
This article was timely for me. I had just found out I was pregnant a month before and was in hardcore research mode. I spent hours researching everything from diapers to strollers. In all my research I never once came across this breast pump, so it got my attention.
When I dug in to the product, I was disappointed. It was expensive, not covered by insurance so I would have to pay out of pocket, and it solved none of the problems I perceived with existing breast pumps on the market (annoying tubes and wires, having to clean each time, etc.).
I’m sure when you opened today’s ROND report you were hoping for a primer in breast pump deficiencies. You’re welcome.
I’m a new mom, I can afford an expensive gadget, and I’m an investor. I think that makes me uniquely qualified to understand the value of this product. However, after 30 seconds of researching the product, I knew why this company struggled to raise funding and it wasn’t because most investors are men.
In my opinion, it’s because they built a marginally better product that the market doesn’t want.
In an effort to bring to light the difficulties a woman-focused business experienced when raising VC funding, this article made the same error that many entrepreneurs make.
It’s easy to blame the ignorance or bias of others vs accept the reality that our babies are ugly.
Here’s another example that doesn’t involve breast pumps:
I was once talking to a CEO about his technology business’ sales strategy. I was utterly confused by the lack of sales focus at the company. They weren’t moving towards product market fit, they were spraying and praying with terrible results.
Instead of hearing my concern, the CEO dismissed my comments and chalked them up to lack of understanding of his market. That business never quite got off the ground.
I can go on and on with examples of this mistake. I’ve done it several times myself.
As an entrepreneur, you almost have to have a blind faith that your business will work, or no one would ever have the courage to start a business.
However, while it’s incredibly hard to hear your baby isn’t pretty, sometimes that’s just the case.
BTW – I struggled with whether or not to include the name and article link referencing Naya. In general, I don’t like speaking about private businesses in a negative way. It’s incredibly difficult to start and grow a business and who am I to make that effort any more difficult. However, I never received any private information about this business and was simply responding to one of the main points of the article: The Company struggled to get funding because it was a women-focused business. I strongly disagree with this.
Have a great weekend everyone!