Startup Corner

Lindsay McCurren, Contributor

What is the problem you’re trying to solve?

The number of women breastfeeding is increasing, yet the process of pumping and storing milk is terrible and outdated. Right now, almost all women store their breast milk in plastic bags in the freezer. The overall pumping and feeding process involves several transfer points to the get the milk into and out of the bag, creating lots of opportunities for spilling and lost milk. Added to that, however 90% of women store breast milk in single-use plastic – not only does this plastic get thrown away, but because women often heat the frozen bags in hot water to thaw, there is a risk of harmful chemicals from the plastic leaching into the breast milk. New parents already have so many things to think about and manage, on little sleep. This process shouldn’t be one that adds to the stress.

What is your solution?

We want to give Mom a one-container solution, from pump to feed, eliminating the need for transferring milk. The ReMana system will provide Mom with adapters, so she can pump directly into our bottles, use one of our caps to store and then use our uniquely designed nipple to feed. ReMana bottles are designed to maximize efficient storage in the freezer and are made from silicone, a natural material that is ideal for children’s products. It won’t leach chemicals, can be sterilized (or put in the dishwasher) without tearing or degrading and feels more natural to baby. We’re excited to be offering an alternative to single-use plastic that makes sense functionally to help Mom save time.

What was the inspiration behind ReMana?

The inspiration behind ReMana is very personal. As working parents, we felt this pain-point intimately. We hated spending so much time managing milk to get ready for the next day in daycare. As a mother, when you’re back at work and already trying to find the time to pump, away from your baby, you don’t need any more stress. That’s really where the inspiration came from…we want to make life easier for new parents. We picture a much bigger vision than just breast-milk storage that can grow with families all the way to toddler years and are excited about where this could go. In Austronesian languages, “mana” means the embodiment of supernatural force in a person. That’s our own view of motherhood. We’re just trying to empower Mom.

Who is the team behind ReMana?

The ReMana team is me Lindsay) and my husband, Nathan, as co-founders. We’ve hired freelance engineers up to this point to take my hand-drawn designs and create real products from them. While we recognize that the idea of married co-founders can be met with skepticism, we think it’s actually crucial for our brand and mission. We believe that making Mom’s life easier is a must, and a great way to empower Mom is to engage Dad. Nathan did almost all the “milk management” in our house; after I pumped, he did the rest. He’s been very close to the problem and how it can be made better and that viewpoint is important for what we’re aiming to do.

How did you get started?

We knew we wanted to start a company focused on improving the lives of parents before HBS. This specific focus came about in the winter of my RC year. We used experimentation funds from the New Venture Competition to do initial discovery and rough product design and the momentum has really carried from there. I (Lindsay) spent the summer in the Harvard iLab VIP program and as a Rock Summer Fellow working on ReMana. We’ve been able to leverage resources in the iLab such as the Maker Studio to do 3D printing of prototypes, as well as leveraging the community to make connections to relevant people or companies in the space.

What’s next?

This fall we’re continuing to leverage the Harvard and HBS resources to make progress in testing, through the VIP and Rock Accelerator. We’re going to spend the rest of the time here at HBS testing as much as we can and leaning on mentors and advisors, to make sure we’re exposing our blind spots and ready to approach the jump off point at graduation.