Part of what makes working for #BlogHer so damn inspiring is the way the company orients itself around helping women at every turn. Whether it be connecting women with tools they need to scale their businesses, inspiring women within our incredible community of creators, or supporting forward-thinking, cutting-edge entrepreneurs — BlogHer will never shy away from our core purpose of making sure female’s voices are heard and celebrated.
#ThePitch was founded as a way to serve, empower, and connect female entrepreneurs while giving them a platform to share their stories. Contestants take the BlogHer stage and pitch themselves and their businesses to a panel of judges and our attendees — and a winner is chosen among the bunch. Since launching the competition in 2015, BlogHer has had the honor of hearing from a range of one-of-a-kind women, each taking the stage to present their groundbreaking innovations that not only refine and reform the world around them, but also stand as exemplary, female-led businesses in a traditionally male-dominated industry.
Adriana Vazquez of Lilu graduated from MIT and joined the corporate workforce. After witnessing multiple coworkers struggling to carve out time for pumping after returning from maternity leave, Adriana decided to be the change she wished to see in the world. She conceptualized, designed, and is currently producing a bra for breast-pumping mothers — the first one designed with female comfort, maximum milk-pumping efficacy, and easy-use in mind.
Bethany Edwards of Lia Diagnostics has developed a pregnancy test that doesn’t hurt the earth or your wallet — you can flush that baby down once you’ve gotten your results. It’s compostable, biodegradable, and is setting the bar for making the world a greener place.
And last, but certainly not least — Jennifer Mons won The Pitch for her company, Soft Health Technologies, and has since CHANGED the female incontinence game with Finess, a product that temporarily halts the leakage of urine. For new moms (and really everyone), this product is the difference between getting back to the office, continuing their exercise regime, or simply getting out of the house — and literally staying home worried you might pee your pants.
We are so proud to once again recognize these incredible women for their contributions to the female healthcare industry. Read on to hear a little bit about life since The Pitch, how their businesses have grown, and what they’re hoping for next!
ADRIANA Vazquez of Lilu
What’s new with you! Has your business or your mission evolved since you won #ThePitch at #BlogHer19 Health last year? If so, how?
When we pitched we had just started shipping the first units of the Lilu Massage Bra. It was quite a journey to get there after 3 years of product development, intense product and market testing, regulatory paperwork and more! So for us, pitching at BlogHer was almost like a celebratory milestone where we were able to announce the launch of online sales. Since then we’ve been focused on generating more awareness about the product and its benefits. We’re working also to build new channels beyond D2C, partnering with key players in the pump industry.
What is the biggest hurdle you’ve had to face?
The biggest hurdle has been fundraising. It’s hard for every entrepreneur and I don’t know many who enjoy the process, but it certainly is pretty exhausting and distracting from the day to day business. I once heard another fellow founder say they think about it as customer discovery and a pretty intense way of doing market research so I’m trying to think of it that way and perhaps I can trick myself into actually enjoying the process!
How did winning The Pitch affect your business?
The exposure was fantastic and support from the audience was really motivating. We are about to start working more closely with the SheMedia team also to share more about the Lilu Massage Bra with a more targeted audience and we’re very excited about that. Stay tuned — hopefully we’ll have more updates on that in the coming weeks!
When you think about your career, is there a woman who stands out as someone who was instrumental in getting you to the place you are today? How are you paying it forward and helping other women who are walking in your footsteps?
My Maths and Computer Science high school teacher Lynne Mochon was pivotal in my life. She believed in me and encouraged me to look into studying abroad (I grew up in Mexico City). She made it really easy loving Maths and CS, and knowing what I know now about the lack of women in STEM, I’m even more full of admiration for her. (I hope to) pay it forward to more women and minority groups in general. I try to agree to speaking or mentoring opportunities as much as possible, and one of my goals is to be more involved with a group called Women Who Hardware in NYC, which fosters a support network for entrepreneurial women in the hardware space.
Bethany Edwards of Lia Diagnostics
Give us the scoop – what’s new with Lia?
We’ve been focused on scaling our manufacturing, this has included scaling our proprietary coating technology, as well as the creation of custom automation and significantly increasing our team. Since winning The Pitch, we have also been building retail and channel partner relationships, this included participating in Target’s Takeoff Accelerator. We’re thrilled that Target loved our discreet, uniquely Lia, award-winning packaging — and are actively working to get Lia into the hands of women everywhere.
What’s been the biggest hurdle you’ve had to face?
Tackling the depth of new knowledge we’ve had to gain and execute on in a short amount of time, with limited resources.
When you think of your career, is there a woman who stands out as someone who was instrumental in getting you where you are today? How are you paying it forward and helping other women who are coming up behind you?
Cindy Eckert! I met her (at another) pitch competition and she’s been instrumental ever since. I very rarely turn down phone calls or coffee meetings with female entrepreneurs who reach out to me. I love hearing their story, brainstorming with them, providing honest advice and offering relevant intros. I’m hoping to be able to do more with this in the near future.
Jennifer Mons of Soft Health Technologies
Has your business or your mission evolved since you won The Pitch at #BlogHer Health last year?
In addition to being Co-Founder of Soft Health Technologies, I am now the CEO of an exciting new health and wellness company called AccessElite. AccessElite is a comprehensive health and wellness membership program that empowers consumers to take their health into their own hands. We connect our members with an elite network of local health and wellness specialists through our mobile app and provide a first-class experience from end-to-end.
How did winning The Pitch affect your business or brand?
Winning the pitch helped Soft Health Tech, a company I am a Co-Founder of, gain additional exposure which was crucial for the brand at the time. We have an amazing product that meets a hugely under addressed issue, stopping bladder leaks, but we struggled to gain mainstream exposure so the more than 15 million women dealing with the issue can find out above our novel new product.
What’s been the greatest challenge to your career so far?
Balancing my priorities and my time has probably been the biggest challenge I have faced. I happen to be passionate about my career, but even more passionate about my family. Finding the time to excel at being a CEO, wife, mom and friend has truly been a challenge as my family has grown. I recently welcomed my third daughter and had the pleasure of experiencing this challenge once again as I respond to these questions with a seven-week-old strapped to my chest. I have come to find that there is no perfect way to find balance and that the best way to address it is to give yourself grace, be patient with the process and be okay with accepting help.
When you think of your career, is there a woman who stands out as someone who was instrumental in getting you where you are today? How are you paying it forward and helping other female entrepreneurs?
The most rewarding thing I do in my career is has the opportunity to coach and mentor young women as they grow in their career. I happen to have a team of 12 young, rockstar women that I have the privilege of watching excel both professionally and personally. I truly believe that a person success should be measured by the success of the people around them and when I analyze my performance on a regular basis I take note of how my team is performing and how each individual is growing.
As a newbie to #BlogHer, I am constantly counting my lucky stars. When I’m in an all-female meeting, writing about a woman who have inspired me all my life (Hey, Hilary Duff!), or learning more about women who are working to change the world around us for the better — I am so grateful to be a part of SHE Media and have the opportunity to engage with #WinningWomen like those who have participated in #ThePitch. Thank you Adriana, Bethany, and Jennifer!