Category: Startups

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!



LifeSprout, Proscia and Sonavex CEOs Named to BBJ’s 40…

LifeSprout, Proscia and Sonavex CEOs Named to BBJ’s 40 Under 40

The Baltimore Business Journal included three CEOs with ties to FastForward on the annual 40 Under 40 list it released Tuesday: Sashank Reddy of LifeSprout, David West of Proscia and David Narrow of Sonavex.

The BBJ selected the top 40 professionals in Baltimore under the age of 40 after receiving 450 nominations, significantly more than last year’s 250. In its announcement, the BBJ wrote of the honorees, “They are innovators, professionals and entrepreneurs in Greater Baltimore who have already made great strides before the age of 40. They are hungry for success.”

As the CEO of the FastForward startup LifeSprout, Reddy, 39, is leading the development of a technology that may one day enable the millions of Americans who lose a significant amount of soft tissue through facial aging, trauma or cancer to feel whole physically and emotionally. LifeSprout’s solution is a nanofiber-hydrogel composite material that restores three-dimensional volume, feels like your body’s own soft tissue and can promote tissue regeneration.
West, 23, started Proscia in 2014 while a biomedical engineering student at The Johns Hopkins University. Proscia’s digital pathology solution enables pathologists and other researchers to access and tap into pathology data from across the institution. The startup is currently developing a computational pathology solution that could help eliminate subjective cancer diagnoses. Under West’s leadership, the company has secured nearly $2 million in outside capital over the past year.
While a master’s student at the Johns Hopkins Bioengineering Innovation and Design program, Narrow and a classmate invented and developed an innovative solution to address the issue of postoperative blood clots. Now 27, Narrow has turned this technology into a promising startup, Sonavex, that has raised more than $4 million. Sonavex recently moved out of the FastForward Homewood innovation hub into its own office space in Baltimore’s Canton neighborhood.
In addition to Reddy, West and Narrow, three other honorees had ties to Johns Hopkins:

  • John Avirett is a Johns Hopkins alumnus who now serves as a partner at Greenspring Associates.
  • Sarah Hemminger co-founded Thread as a Johns Hopkins graduate student and now serves as the social venture’s CEO.
  • Wendy Osefo is a Johns Hopkins University professor and founder of the 1954 equity project.

This year’s honorees continue a tradition of strong representation of Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures entrepreneurs and staff members on the 40 Under 40 list.

Last year, the Baltimore Business Journal selected Urban Pastoral CEO and founder J.J. Reidy and Fusiform CEO and co-founder Param Shah among its 40 Under 40 honorees.

In 2015, the BBJ recognized Vasoptic Medical CEO M. Jason Brooke, Social Innovation Lab Director Darius Graham and AsclepiX Therapeutics co-founder Jordan J. Green. Graham now serves as the director of student ventures for FastForward. In 2014, the BBJ named Rehabtics (now Kangaroo Health) CEO Xiaoxu Kang to its list.

Click here to learn more about FastForward startups!


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