After enduring pregnancy and childbirth, many new mothers experience an additional challenge –– breastfeeding. Hoping to make it easier for mothers to feed their babies, Cornell alum Max Spivak ’07 MBA ’14 MILR ’15 and his wife Kate Spivak co-founded Laally and created their own device in 2017 to provide a solution.
When Kate was working as a physician assistant and lactation consultant –– a professional who addresses breastfeeding problems –– in Ithaca, she said she has seen “a lot of moms struggle with breastfeeding.”
When facing these struggles, lactation consultants use a complicated system to deliver milk at the breast, which involves a “nipple shield” and a tubing system that had to be attached separately, according to Kate, which inspired her to come up with their own device. “I felt like we just have to do something about it to make it easier for moms,” she said.
With Kate’s medical background and Max’s business background, the couple launched the New Jersey-based company in 2017 to market their first device: The Bridge. The product is a silicone cover that goes over the breast, with a syringe attached through a channel, and parents can use the device on their own to supplement the flow of milk.
The product has many applications and is mostly used by moms who are not producing enough milk or for babies who are not latching properly, according to Kate.
“Right now there is no device like this,” Max said. “We can help you fix the breastfeeding issues instead of alternatives that take the baby away from the breast.”
As parents of two young children themselves, they hoped to fight judgment that parents face and give them affordable options.
“Our core principles are to empower, educate and enable,” Max said.
The company was self-funded, and the couple built early prototypes themselves before finding partners and a manufacturer. Max said his education helped them develop the device, citing “the expertise at the University, the strong alumni network and the rigor in the studies.”
“Cornell always required a certain level of hustle,” he said. As an entrepreneur, “you’re busting your butt the same way you were in classes.”
The coupled consulted with Prof. Kathleen Rasmussen, nutritional sciences, and received advice, connections and crowdfunding contributions from alumni.
“Almost every alum answers the phone or emails when you say Cornell,” Max said. “It’s insane the kind of resources you can have, and I really hope more students leverage that.”