Category: Meet the Entrepreneur

Meet the Entrepreneur

Meet the Entrepreneur: Lacstation Supports Working Mothers and Their…

Meet the Entrepreneur: Lacstation Supports Working Mothers and Their Babies

 

Meg Stoltzfus

Four out of five mothers breastfeed their newborns, but that number slips to two out of five after three months. A major factor for that steep drop off is a return to work, and it’s not just because of hectic schedules.

The coordinator of Johns Hopkins University’s breastfeeding support program, Meg Stoltzfus received countless phone calls from mothers who had forgotten a part to their breast pump. Though happy to help, Stoltzfus recognized that racing across campus to deliver missing parts wasn’t a sustainable solution.

Inspiration struck Stoltzfus while at an airport where she saw a vending machine selling electronics and wondered, “Why not breast pump supplies?” Soon after, Stoltzfus entered the Social Innovation Lab where she developed the startup Lacstation, a vending machine that provides supplies and support to breastfeeding moms.

Having solutions like these in the workplace decreases employee stress, lowers health care costs, builds the employer’s reputation as family-friendly workplace and keeps women in the leadership pipeline. Already in use at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, Stoltzfus is aiming to have 10 companies install Lacstation vending machines by the beginning of 2018.

Below, Stoltzfus describes Lacstation and her journey as a Baltimore entrepreneur.

In 5 words, what does your company do?

Support breastfeeding moms at work.
 

What are your goals and how will you get there?

My goal is to have a Lacstation vending machine to provide breastfeeding and breast pumping supplies in every hospital and large employer in the country.

To get there, I have to prove to companies that supporting breastfeeding employees helps the company’s bottom line by increasing their ability to recruit and retain female employees and lower health care costs.

Health care organizations who implement this solution have the added benefit of being able to provide breastfeeding supplies to patients in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

Why have you chosen Baltimore as your startup’s home?

Quite simply, because it is my home. My husband and I have lived and worked in Baltimore for 19 years.
 

What opportunities make it a good place for growing a business?

The cost of living and working here is low and the community is very interested in seeing successes come to life in Baltimore. I believe that social entrepreneurs can have such a positive impact on Baltimore’s reputation!
 

In terms of startups and innovation, what’s one thing that separates Baltimore from other tech hotbeds?

The number of world-class medical institutions that we have and their interest in developing solutions for both health and community challenges.
 

If you could give your past self one piece of advice for creating a startup, what would it be?

Seek out a community of entrepreneurs and innovators for support.
 

What book are you currently reading?

I am always reading at least five books at a time. The one on the top of the pile at the moment is
The Social Animal by David Brooks.
 

What innovator do you look up to? Why?

I look up to the moms who contact me with their stories about how they make breastfeeding work. They are amazingly innovative!

I recently talked to a mom who forgot her milk storage bags and the piece that attaches the bags to her breast pump. She works on a campus without a breastfeeding supplies vending machine, and she was able to engineer a solution using duct tape and a Ziploc bag.
 

It’s after a long day of work, and you don’t feel like cooking. What is your go-to Baltimore restaurant?

Niwana. I live in Charles Village, and I love being able to walk to a restaurant for take-out.
 

What’s your favorite non-work-related thing to do in Baltimore?

Go for a walk to Sherwood Gardens or eat ice cream at The Charmery.
 

Click here to learn more about the Social Innovation Lab!

 

Meet the Entrepreneur

Meet the Entrepreneur: Brittany Young Turns Dirt Bike Passion…

Meet the Entrepreneur: Brittany Young Turns Dirt Bike Passion Into Opportunity

 

Brittany Young

Growing up in West Baltimore, Brittany Young was only one of many in her neighborhood enthralled by the dirt bikers who would ride, rev and repair their bikes in Druid Hill Park as well as teach others how to do the same.

Now an engineer, Young created the social venture B-360 to show students how the skills they have developed to maintain their bikes can open career opportunities in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). It also advocates for safe dirt bike riding.

Developing STEM skills and interests early gives these children a greater opportunity to end up in a STEM career, which pays 50 percent more on average (starting at a high school diploma/GED) than their non-STEM counterparts. Additionally, a recent Brookings Institute study found that Baltimore has the eighth-highest percentage of job openings in STEM fields among large metro areas.

Another report shows that the city has more than 122,000 mid-skill level STEM careers that can lift low-income residents to the middle class.

Below, we discuss Young’s vision for B-360, Baltimore’s startup support system and the benefits of the Social Innovation Lab.

In 5 words, what does your company do?
B-360 turns passion into opportunity.

What are your goals and how will you get there?
B-360 aims to change the perspective of engineers and dirt bike riders using STEM/STEAM (science, technology, engineering, architecture and math). It also provides safe spaces for students in the program to ride and work on dirt bikes.

In addition, we aim to create a STEM workforce development pipeline by establishing an elementary and middle school program that teaches students the engineering design process, safety protocols and mechanics.

For riders, we want to advocate to the city government for safe spaces to ride and the decriminalization of riding. We also aim to partner with STEM organizations and companies to provide occupational opportunities in this field.

Why have you chosen Baltimore as your startup’s home?
Baltimore is my home and I need to start with solutions here first. Also, Baltimore is a perfect place to prove the model works. If the model can work here and be sustainable, it can work anywhere and help others who are developing social ventures that have the potential for great scalability.

Baltimore is the dirt bike capital, and dirt bikes and all their positive attributes deserve to be included in the culture of our city. As the city develops, I want its citizens to have the opportunity to grow with it and expand their career options.

What opportunities make Baltimore a good place for growing a business?
There are a lot of incubators and startups in Baltimore already as well as initiatives, such as the Social Innovation Lab, that help develop social ventures. Baltimore has a lot of resources, and people want to see innovative solutions grow and thrive here.

In terms of startups and innovation, what’s one thing that separates Baltimore from other tech hotbeds?
Baltimore is a city with great potential because it has the perfect climate for innovation. Not only have established Baltimore changemakers built a tremendous infrastructure that facilitates change in the city, they are supportive of new ideas and initiatives. It’s the perfect mix between new ideation and traditional solutions.

If you could give your past self one piece of advice for creating a startup, what would it be?
Never be afraid to get out there and try something new, and don’t think your idea is too simple. Also, understand that not everyone was given your vision, so it is okay if people do not get it.

What book are you currently reading?
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nahisi Coates and Building Nonprofit Capacity: A Guide to Managing Change Through Organizational Lifecycles by John Brothers

What innovator do you look up to? Why?
Kimberly Bryant of Black Girls Code. I feel like we have similar stories of noticing inequity/disparity in our communities or workplace and wanting to help future generations not have the same struggle.

She was able to start with a small model, teaching girls of color how to code locally and then was easily able to replicate her model and help so many in a powerful way. Her program gives hard skills for careers but also social and life lessons on the importance of power in numbers, community-based solutions and impact as opposed to quantification.

It’s after a long day of work, and you don’t feel like cooking. What is your go-to Baltimore restaurant?
Depending on my mood, it will be either Connie’s Chicken and Waffles, Home Maid or Land of Kush.

What’s your favorite non-work-related thing to do in Baltimore?
I honestly just enjoy family time; getting together to go for walks or having picnics at Druid Hill on warmer days, visiting a museum, going to visit my grandmother, taking random car rides around the city. My siblings and I get together every weekend just for some “us” time and they keep me grounded.
 

Want to join the Social Innovation Lab? Click to apply!

 

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