Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in health and wellness but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Vanessa Jupe, Founder and CEO of Leva, located in Westwood Hills, KS, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Leva is here to support new moms every step of the way! From expectant moms through the first 12 months as a mama, with Leva, you're never on your own. Whether you're up for a 2 am feeding or you're struggling with your milk supply, the Leva app and team are here to support you every step of the way. Leva is the first app of its kind holistically focused on supporting moms.
Leva is one of the most well-rounded and inclusive baby apps on the market to date; the app:
- Tracks breastfeeding, including which side the mother is feeding from and how long the feeding session lasts.
- Tracks pumping sessions and bottle feedings.
- Tracks diaper counts, including wet and dirty diapers, and consistency and color of the stool to give moms an idea of whether their baby is feeding well.
- Has a milestone tracker. It provides information on what milestones babies should reach and at what age (according to the CDC) and provides advice on what to do if their baby is not achieving the milestones.
- Has over 200+ high-quality, well-researched, and science-backed articles written by lactation consultants, pediatricians, doctors, physical therapists, psychologists, and career coaches.
- Provides access to real one-on-one help with live consultants and coaches.
- Provides on-demand video content developed by experts.
- Has a community of supportive women to connect with via chat and facilitated live group discussions.
Tell us about yourself
I often said I wished I had someone with me at my 2 am feeds to support me through those difficult times. Someone who could talk me through the correct latch and positioning of my baby or someone to tell me I was doing it right. I felt so out of my depth on my feeding journey and battled to find resources that would help me on my way.
After an agonizing few months of undiagnosed vasospasm and having my baby, Roosevelt, treated for lip and tongue ties, I eventually succumbed and stopped breastfeeding. However, I continued to express milk for an entire year after his birth, so he still received breast milk. I also supplemented with formula when necessary.
Having spoken with many other mothers, I realized my story was not unique. So many mothers battled with extreme pain during breastfeeding, and other issues, such as mastitis, engorgement, low milk supply, cracked and painful nipples, and oversupply, among others. But help seemed to evade them. The internet was filled with advertising, making it difficult to find the information they were looking for. And worse still, lactation consultants made them feel guilty about giving up breastfeeding but couldn't empathize with their issues.
Returning to work a couple of months after giving birth, I faced other challenges. I realized how ill-equipped the American corporate world was to support new mothers (never mind their poor maternity leave policies). Finding a place and time to pump milk was difficult, and my bosses weren't too delighted if I needed to go home early to look after my baby.
As an avid researcher, I was sure that there must be resources that helped mothers. After all, it was the 21st century, and having babies was not a new phenomenon. Unfortunately, I learned that, for the most part, new mothers had to navigate this journey on their own.
I saw a wide gaping hole in the market that needed filling. My vision was to create a one-stop app where mothers could find lactation and sleep support, career coaching for re-entering the workforce or elevating their careers, and health advice for both babies and mothers within a wholesome, non-judgmental community. I also sought to provide mothers with support for maternity leave and point them toward the relevant resources so they understood their rights as mothers.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as the owner of Leva has been building an app that is such a robust resource to support new moms. It hasn't been an overnight success. I started Leva as a passion project while working full-time as a corporate executive. It's taken over two years to create the content, build a fantastic team that spans the globe, and create a robust and holistic app and community to support new mothers.
Now that I am focused on Leva full-time, the sky is the limit to what my team and I can do to ensure mothers get the support they need to be successful and happy.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
At this point in my history as the owner of Leva, I feel the most challenging thing that comes from being a business owner is time. There is never enough time to do all the tasks on my to-do list. And for every item I check off, I add two or three more.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- You cannot do it all; fortunately, you don't have to. Share your vision and passion with others, and they will join you. You'll have to get comfortable putting yourself out there and being the face of your business.
- Great advice comes from everywhere. Customers, strangers, folks you meet through networking events... You'll be surprised how much support is out there. People are generally good and want to help. Make time for others - help them and let them help you.
- Start. See what happens. There is never a perfect moment to get going.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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