Episode 30 - Entrepreneur Experience: Emily Sylvester, NurtureTalk Founder and CEO


Entrepreneur Experience: Emily Sylvester, NurtureTalk Founder and CEO

In this edition of Entrepreneur Experience, we sit down with Emily Sylvester, founder and CEO of NurtureTalk, a company focused on delivering education and support for infant feeding without bias and agenda. Our conversation ranges from the challenges of founder moms to the source of imposter syndrome (and strategies to deal with it!). Emily shares her journey from scientist and clinician to technical founder, and believe us, it’s one you definitely don’t want to miss!

In this edition of Entrepreneur Experience, we talk to Emily Sylvester, founder and CEO of NurtureTalk, a healthcare startup reinventing how communities connect to equitable infant feeding information. As a pediatric Registered Dietician and breastfeeding consultant for over 10 years, Emily has a wealth of hands-on information and insight about what challenges moms and families face most and how to help them overcome those challenges to help them and their babies thrive. Emily is the 2019 – 2021 president of the Massachusetts Breastfeedinging Coalition and was awarded the 2018 Recognized Young Dietician of the Year through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Emily dives into her startup journey and dispels multiple myths about being a startup founder, from how long it really takes to start getting traction to whether you can have a life and a family while building a new venture. We cover a range of topics in this episode, including the “language of technology”, how to know what advice to take and what not to take, the problems a lot of healthcare tech startups face, and the formula for success in any venture. (Hint: Being present each day is a BIG part of it.)

Emily also talks about imposter syndrome, where it comes from, and how it gets perpetuated, especially for female founders in tech startups. She offers exceptional wisdom on how to deal with the emotions and thoughts related to imposter syndrome and offers strategies for how to gain the thing most entrepreneurs lack and need the most: perspective.

Follow Emily and NurtureTalk on Instagram (@nurturetalk), Facebook (@nurturetalk) and online.

Check out Emily’s recommended resources here:

“How I Built This” with Guy Raz

“The Lean Startup”

“The Pitch” Podcast from Gimlet Media

Be sure to like, share, and subscribe to Precursa: The Startup Journey on your favorite podcasting platform and tune in for the next episode! 

Email us with any questions or comments (startup@precursa.com). Check out our website (https://www.precursa.com) for more information on getting your startup rolling.

Straight to you from Denver, Colorado, this is Precursa: The Startup Journey. We share the ins and outs of building a tech startup from inception to launch to revenue and beyond. If you’ve ever wondered what building a startup from scratch really looks like, you’re in the right place. With full transparency and honesty, we reveal it all about Precursa on our ride from idea to exit: the wins, the lessons learned and the unexpected twists and turns.

Speaker 1 (00:38):
Hey everybody, welcome back. This is Precursa: The Startup Journey and today we’re continuing our lovely entrepreneur experience series. And today our guest is Emily Sylvester, who’s the founder and CEO of NurtureTalk, which is a health tech startup, reinventing how women get infant feeding, support and information, and making that more accessible to all women and families. Emily has a whole ton of letters after her name because she’s a pediatric registered dietician and breastfeeding consultant, and she’s passionate. She’s ruthless in her commitment to bringing equity and support to all women and families. And her perspective will be invaluable to you, oh loyal follower and listener. Welcome to the show Emily.

Speaker 2 (01:26):
Oh, it’s so nice to be here. Good to see you, Cynthia. <laugh>

Speaker 1 (01:30):
It’s good to see you too. My dear. Why don’t you start by telling us just a little bit about yourself, how you came to be an entrepreneur, you know, sort of your journey.

Speaker 2 (01:39):
Yeah, so yes, I did many years of schooling, uh, to become licensed as a registered dietician and did an internship at the national institutes of health, um, down in Bethesda, Maryland. And after that, I was like, just like ear yearning for more pediatric experience. And so I started my career in early intervention. If anybody’s familiar with that, the zero to three, and in people’s homes, like one on one with them, with their feeding difficulties, how hard it is to get home from the hospital, not know how to breastfeed or bottle feed, and they just send you home with nothing. And so that’s where my passion for this space began. And from there, I, you know, got a outpatient position at a hospital where I got to work again, one on one with families in the home and in the clinic with other professionals in the space, making sure that children grow and thrive and that’s zero to five years.

Speaker 2 (02:35):
And from there, I was just realizing in my NICU fall clinic, that there’s just no great solutions now that are turnkey, that a mom can sign up for information and that information and support follows them from when they have to feed the baby on the outside. Right. Oh. And so that the referral system, there’s great community programs and amazing lactation consultants that I have the pleasure of working with every single day, but there needed to be a tech solution to bring everything together. And so that’s where nurture talk is. And I got the startup bug I was pregnant with. It was 2019. I was pregnant with my third baby and driving home being like, I gotta solve this. I’m going on maternity, Hey, let me join an accelerator program. Cause that’s gonna be super easy with three kids and a newborn baby. But I pitched five days before Craig was born and got into the accelerator and he was two weeks on my chest going to business classes and pitched wow practices.

Speaker 2 (03:37):
And he was a, a, a program out of Cape Cod, the Cape Cod chapter of E for all. And they were amazing. I think there’s a chapter out in Colorado too, if I’m remembering right there probably is. Yeah. Yeah. And so that’s where it all started. And I launched six months later, my prototype, where we were texting one on one with moms 21, 4 sevens a day 74, 7 a day to really test the service. Is this something moms want? Is it something that the healthcare system want wants? Does it work? And so that’s brought us today where I’m now deep into being a startup CEO. <laugh>.

Speaker 1 (04:13):
And where are you today? Talk a little bit about sort of, what’s been going on in the last couple months and, and also maybe talk a little bit about how has the journey taken because you know, a lot of times on, you know, the show we’re about dispelling myths that might either make an entrepreneur not wanna try or make them feel like the way that their journey is going is wrong or, you know, and one of those myths is the overnight success myth. And I think, you know, you and I have been, have known each other and been working together for over a year now, I think, and your journey is a very, very typical one. And so, you know, just talk about where you are now, what what’s been going on and how long has it taken to get to this point?

Speaker 2 (04:54):
Yeah. I certainly came into it, um, with huge imposter syndrome. <laugh>, you know, being Alin mission and a scientist, right. Being like I’m gonna start a business and I’m gonna be profitable and I can quit my job and do it. Right. <laugh> and I think the typical story we hear is the 23 year old, who is out of college or finds a problem and can live in their parents’ basement and build it, which is amazing. I mean, such great stories and products have come out of that. But I came into it being like, I hold the health insurance. I have a very stable job that I trained a long time for. Yeah. And how the heck am I gonna have the time to build this? And so that imposter syndrome continued as I kept building because companies whose CEOs I was working with and talking to were like building so much faster than me, but I had to really stay grounded and be like, look, I only have so much time.

Speaker 2 (05:54):
My family is still important just because I’m not building it as fast. I can still build it smart. And so I, I really had to keep that in mind and still today, three weeks ago, I finally, you know, gave my resign for my job. I’m full time in nurture talk now, but that’s been over two years of doing this. I mean, Craig is two, he turned two in July and that’s 2019 is when I did my accelerator program. Wow. And I think the biggest thing to think about is building smart is so much better than building fast for the most part. Right? Yeah. And that’s where I decided to do this prototype where I had a contracted out app that was our already used in healthcare. I didn’t put any money into tech, I’m gonna test this and I’m gonna figure out the features and the systems that I need to make this successful. And that took time. That took a lot

Speaker 1 (06:48):
Of time. Yeah. Yeah. I love that. You said that it there’s this thing that I heard originally in exercise, but I hear it in lots of things now where they say so slow is smooth, smooth as fast. And you know, to your point, if you learn how to be smart, then you can figure out how to grow like crazy. Right. But without if you don’t have any knowledge of what it takes to, to close a good customer or to find a good partnership or, or how to service the customers, you do, you have growing fast is gonna be the absolute worst thing that could happen to you. <laugh> so on the podcast previously, I’ve talked several times about the 99 second pitch, and we have tried, we have worked so hard on this at Precursa, the origin of this was you, my friend. And so I wondered if you would be willing because I know you just, you know, revised it for, for a pitch event that you did the other day, would you be willing to do the 99 second pitch for our audience and show them what, something like that looks like?

Speaker 2 (07:54):
Sure, sure. And, and I did this because of a competition that, that I had won back in April actually. But I’m so thankful for that experience. Even though at first I was like, holy cow, 99 seconds. Like how in the world do you do that? But guess what? Once I had that, that goes into any one pagers you do, that goes into any conversations that you have and then longer pitches kind of stem from that. Even the longer pitches you have to be short and sweet and concise and clear. So I’d be happy

Speaker 1 (08:23):
To, okay, great. Whenever you’re ready, you take it away. My friend, okay.

Speaker 2 (08:28):
<laugh> there are 4 million babies born in the us each year. 50% are eligible for Medicaid insurance for low income families where these babies have more feeding challenges because unfortunately more likely to be born prematurely or low weight as compared to babies of higher income. The problem is affordable. Baby feeding help at home is unreliable for hard to feed babies and reliable infant feeding help is expensive. My name is Emily Sylvester, an infant feeding expert and founder of nurture talk, nurture talk is the first ever on demand, HIPAA secure nutrition care mobile app for all baby feeding needs. We are a B to B and B to C subscription service. Any mom will be able to access nutrition and tracking preventative monitoring, evidence based products and daily coaching from dieticians as the only licensed experts in mom and baby nutrition. Healthcare product market fit is established with our six month clinical trial through 5,500 HIPPA secure phone messages using one staff breastfeeding success and on feeding confidence were doubled for users. Our software engineers have experience as the first to build HIPAA secure messaging for Amazon web services. And I have partnership from over five sales channels, such as breast pump and medical device companies, so that we can grow to 5.3 million in revenue with 50% service smart origins in 24 months, I’m seeking Pree investors to join me and build this solution for baby feeding equality, because in the words of Winston Churchill, there’s no finer investment for any community than putting milk into babies.

Speaker 1 (10:10):
Wow. That was awesome. <laugh> I wish I had an applause track, cuz that was amazing. All right. So I’m curious to hear, because you do have such a clinical scientific kind of background, right? Explain how, how do you come up with an idea where you look at something that’s completely not tech related? I mean, there’s almost nothing about breastfeeding other than maybe some of the tools that moms have available to them that is really about tech. How do you, how does that spark happen? Like you talked a little bit about it, but how do you make that leap from, especially because you’ve never done tech before.

Speaker 2 (10:51):
Yeah. Yeah. It was a lot of learning and, and reading obviously about even the basic terms around it to say, this is what I wanna do, but how do I even start to describe it? Um, yeah. It’s like almost learning English to me and I I’m still learning English, like all these terms in what I’m building. And is it a web? Is it a mobile? Like, is AI evolved? Like don’t use the word AI, cuz that’s used too much, but you gotta, you gotta use this word. But anyways, I, I digress. It really comes down to my experience around being a scientist. Right. You come up with this hypothesis, right. And from that hypothesis, you say, this is a problem that exists in the, in my case and been feeding community. Yeah. How do I take that technology and directly apply it to that missing piece.

Speaker 2 (11:46):
Yeah. And going from there and doing your methods section, like this is how I think it’s gonna work, but then break down those methods to even smaller pieces to say, even before I build out the tech, how can I test that? The systems that the tech would put in place would work for healthcare. Right? Yeah. I love that. Cause in the case of healthcare, you can’t just come up with like a cloud-based solution and be like here, mom use it. And I feel like so many companies that are not successful in the healthcare space do that. They come in with lots of experience around building technology or business growth and they build something. But if the customers and healthcare industry doesn’t resonate with it, it’s not gonna take off. Yeah. Or you have to pivot so significantly, right. To maybe only be provider facing or maybe only being it for healthcare hospital system facing.

Speaker 2 (12:45):
Right. And if that’s what you wanna do fine. But really looking back to that hypothesis and my hypothesis was I need to get based tailored, understandable information to moms in the fastest case possible. Yeah. That does not cost a lot of money. Yeah. And that’s really hard. So I had to break it down really small, which is why I just started with texting. I’m like you sign up, we did a be testing for pricing and how they sign up. And the marketing funnels to say one, what’s the easiest way to get them on and use it. And what’s the price point that they wanna come on, cuz from there, whatever we build out now comes back to that hypothesis and did we prove it or not? And if we didn’t prove it, what are those things that we need to do differently?

Speaker 1 (13:36):
Yeah. I love that you point out that this is a very scientific process. And I think one of the challenges that I see with entrepreneurs, a lot of times who are not brought up or trained in a scientific method is they think, oh, well my, you know, my best friend from college or my brother’s sister’s nephew’s cousin in can write, you know, software can, can build me a mobile app. So why wouldn’t I just build something and put it out there? And I, I love the message, which is any time that you spend doing anything that you haven’t proven or that isn’t the smallest amount you could do in order to prove the next thing is gonna end up being a waste in one way or another and better to waste small, you know, this, this is, this is that whole concept of fail fast, right? It’s like if you waste small, you fail fast and then you can pivot. And you’re not as invested whether that’s time, energy, emotional investment. I mean, so many people get so to, you know, the thing they came up with. Right. And that, that can almost be the death nail of something new <laugh>.

Speaker 1 (14:43):
So, all right. So what would you say, you know, in your experience is the most important lesson that you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?

Speaker 2 (14:52):
I would say that even though you’re using the scientific method, it doesn’t mean everything has to be perfect. Right. That science experience, I’m gonna go back to science, the science experience doesn’t have to be perfect to get the results. Right. So for example, in my early mentors were like, look, don’t put a lot of money to a website cause it’s gonna change. And then you have to dump more money, like simplest process, simplest customer flow, less information possible. And for me that was really hard. So yeah. Yeah. I overdid it sometimes. Right. And I had too many options on my website and you know, not a clear, you know, call to action and maybe broaden entities or services way before I needed them. Just because I was like, so worried about being compliant, right? Like, am I gonna be compliant and seen as a real startup?

Speaker 2 (15:50):
Right. And so, you know, I said earlier, building smart, but it is kind of smart and dirty. Right. <laugh> you just, you have to, that sounded really weird, but <laugh> hopefully we get what I’m trying to say here. Um, but yeah. And just get second and third opinion. Right? You find people hug extremely trust, but I feel like in entrepreneurship we get so excited to find people that are in, on our mission and believe in us that sometimes, you know, it can be a case where you don’t feel like you need second and third, but just because so many opinions are coming your way you trust the person, it doesn’t mean it’s always the right thing for you. Yeah. And finding those people that you trust is one of the most important things. But keeping that in mind, right. That, yeah. The thing in your head or how you describe it might not have been the exact way you wanted it to come out. And then the advice that they’re gonna give you might not be the right thing for you. So having other opinion options and not being afraid to ask for it. Right. Getting on the phone, I feel like informational interviews were always my friend, but feeling comfortable and asking dumb questions. Cuz if you don’t ask the dumb questions, you’re gonna get out and be like, I heard all this amazing things, but I don’t understand it cuz I didn’t ask the dumb question and now what am I gonna do with this information? Mm yeah.

Speaker 1 (17:19):
I love what you said. I, I feel like there is a trend and I, I will be honest. I interview a lot of female entrepreneurs because this is one of my favorite group of people. Right. I feel like there’s a trend that women get better than men end do. And it’s what you touched on, which is understanding. You’re gonna get input, you’re gonna get insight. You’re gonna get coaching and knowing what is a fit and what is not. And I wonder what you think about is all coaching. The same is all advice the same. And how do you know what’s right. And what’s not

Speaker 2 (17:54):
All advice is certainly not the same, especially when it’s coming from people who are not kind of understanding your background. Right. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and I think maybe that comes from female, male. I mean the first people I had conversations were where the older, white male investors, business people that I look up to. Yeah. But the information that they provided kind of had a little bit of a veil on it. Right. Because we weren’t able to get at the true things that I really wanted to ask or I didn’t feel like I wanted, I could ask them. And so I think going with gut and realizing that is the best thing that you can do most of the time that that knowledge is coming in and your brain is working at a million miles a second, especially being an entrepreneur CEO, founder. Right. But really taking time.

Speaker 2 (18:52):
What I started doing was after each meeting, like making sure I had at least three minutes, like literally three minutes to go back and say, how did I feel about that meeting? Yep. How do I feel about the person? How do I feel about the information and how do I feel about what I’m gonna do with it and jot that down because come an hour later, two days later, three days later, you’re gonna go back to what the information you wrote and forget about those feelings. And it’s harder to go on your gut then because you just like, oh, I need to do this, this and this. And you get into the, to do list frame of mine versus my heart. And is this really the right advice?

Speaker 1 (19:31):
Yeah. For, I love that for us. I love that. What do you think is the most important like personality trait or characteristic that someone should have to be a successful entrepreneur?

Speaker 2 (19:44):
Uh, right now, uh, I, the word flexibility comes right into my mind. Hmm. And that flexibility with your life, your personal life flexibility with what you’re building. And like you said early, not, not becoming too attached to what it is always keeping your mission and your passion up at top, but realizing that the actual thing is gonna change. And if it doesn’t change, sometimes that’s not a good thing. Right? Yeah. Because you’re just pushing and pushing on something that isn’t a hundred percent gonna work. I mean, for instance with me, you know, building the texting piece, I loved the feedback from moms and how successful it was, but I kept pushing how I was marketing it for longer than I probably should without realizing that need to shift really soon because these moms I’m marketing to them when they don’t even realize they’re gonna need the help.

Speaker 2 (20:39):
They’re more, they’re more interested in like, how am I gonna have this baby? <laugh> like, what is gonna happen then? And what is the, the nursery gonna look like when I bring them home, which is all exciting and normal, they’re not thinking about how am I gonna get to feed them or what is breastfeeding gonna look like? Yeah. And so I really had to shift what that model looked like and how it looked in my mind that I had seen knowing what I knew clinically. Um, so that’s just an example and flexibility. Yeah. Flexible. I mean your day will shift, your meanings will change this new project, this opportunity to come up. You’ve gotta do that instead of like hitting up the other million things that you need to do and you know, <affirmative> so I, I think that’s the biggest thing that comes up for me in, in my space where I’m at now. <laugh>.

Speaker 1 (21:32):
Yeah, no, I love that. I think that’s, I think that’s awesome. Talk to me a little bit about what is it, what is it like? You’ve mentioned it a couple times, you know, you, you had just had your, your third kid, you’re starting this accelerator. How does being an entrepreneur impact act a family and your family life. And you know, if, if, if you had to give advice to someone who wasn’t the 23 year old in their parent’s basement, but who did have a career and a family to support and was trying to sort of juggle all this stuff, what would that advice

Speaker 2 (22:03):
Look like? Yeah, I think it would, it would look like always is having that 1, 3, 5 year plan, write it down, put it somewhere where you can see it so that that can help drive you, but try as hard as it is to live in the day. And I think every week thinking about, if I look back on this week, five, 10 years from now, when I’m at the, when I’m like achieve that five year goal, cause you can’t do it, you can do it. Am I gonna be happy about what that journey looks like? And I think that comes down to thinking about family time, keeping your passions. And I think one of my best friends from, from grad school, I was talking to her her the other day and I was like, I’m done with my clinical job. I can do this full time.

Speaker 2 (22:55):
You know, I’m excited for more time and getting back to things that really drive me. I mean, obviously founding a business drives me, but there’s, there’s more. And she said to me, she’s like, Emily, I can’t even remember what your passions are. Oh. And it took me a minute to be like, yes they are this. Do you remember when we used to do this? And I think that was really a wake up call. Not that I regret the last two years, but having that advice to like really as busy as you are and as much passion as you have for what you’re doing, try, try to live in the day and say, am I, am I happy about how it’s going? Because in the end, if you’re not happy about how it’s going, you’re not gonna be successful. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (23:40):
I love that advice. Gosh, that’s amazing. One of the things that I am, you know, I’ve been doing this a long time, right? We’ve talked about that. And you know, I coach a ton of entrepreneurs and building whole, I mean, Precursa’s a whole business around working with entrepreneurs and helping them get to the places they wanna be. And I am, I still struggle with that balance. And you know, we talked earlier out fast, isn’t always best. And then now we’ve talked about balance and I wonder, is it possible to have a life and be an entrepreneur? I think that’s what I wanna ask.

Speaker 2 (24:19):
I’m gonna say yes, but don’t let those days where you feel like you don’t have a life stop you. And what I said too, I did a live a while back about being an entrepreneur in the mama baby space. And I said, if you find something that you are so passionate about and you love, and you can think about the hardest day in your life, but you still have to do the stuff, be happy doing it. And for me, that’s yes, because this is my passion. This is what I wanna do. But first of all, you need to choose something where the work is not work because it is work and it’s gonna be a hell of a ton of work. Yeah. And so realizing that that hard work has to be happy for you too. And I think what’s super hard for founders like me who have been in a position where my goals would be, I see this many patients, I do this.

Speaker 2 (25:19):
Yeah, I do my notes. I go home and realizing that entrepreneurship is a lot different than that. So thinking about how you split up your family time, time, and your business time always has to be considered. And that was really hard for me. I founded my company and launched the first week of COVID. So I was home. Wow. I was home working my clinical position and I was home doing stuff for nurture talk. And my kids were home too. And so what happens is that space for work and that space for family gets all jumbled up mm-hmm <affirmative>. And I think that happens. I think in my case it was extreme just because of the pandemic circumstances, but <laugh>, but I have an inkling ti talking to other founders who are moms that, that happens all the time. And so it’s, you can have a life in, you can do this.

Speaker 2 (26:11):
And the hardest thing, and the best thing to do is try to create that space. Whether it’s a schedule book where you color code it and you create like meetings, like this is my work time, this is my non-work time and try to stick to it. And I had a really hard time with that because I was just <affirmative> I have to have this meeting or else I can’t move forward. Yeah. I have to do this thing or else I can’t move forward. Right. And, um, so trying to do that as much as possible, cuz then you can, and, and I think my last thing about that is being really open with your kids or your family about what you’re doing. You know, they really understood what I’m doing. They didn’t really understand. Right. But they understood that I’m building something, I’m building something to help these people.

Speaker 2 (26:57):
And if we do this and we do a good job, this is where it gets our family. Yeah. So that they have the end goal. And so when I said to my daughter, three weeks ago, mommy is done with her job. She goes, that’s because you are your own boss now. Right. Oh. And she, I love that. But then she said, well, that means you can just not work. Right. You could just not work when you wanna wish she said something like that. So, but she knew like it’s there’s sacrifices that we were making, but she kind of understood why and she’s seven. Right. So it looks differently for the different ages. But um,

Speaker 1 (27:33):
Well, so first of all, congratulations, because that’s a huge milestone in an entrepreneur’s life where you’ve had a career and what did it take you to, to the point where you could say, okay, we can, we can focus on this full time now. I mean, is it just about getting funding? Is there, is there some other way of planning? Like, you know, what did that take?

Speaker 2 (27:56):
It took a lot of the universe. Right. And that feeling, it took obviously funding and figur out where my family needs to be to do that, which is different than the college kids in the basement. Right. I think those decisions are a lot different and it took people who I had found to surround me to say, it’s okay, you are in a good space. This is not a dumb decision. Right? Yeah. This is not know you’re gonna found this thing and you don’t even know if it’s gonna work. Right. Cause sometimes you’re so invested in it that especially me who analyzes things, I’m like, am I really doing this good enough? Right. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. And so finding those people to say that you trust to say, no, you’re at a good place and we’re gonna back you in this. And this is, this is why it’s a good time and really feeling that. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (28:49):
I love that. So tell us about a time when you faced a challenge as an entrepreneur or maybe even something that you’re facing now and how have you been handling that and you know, like how do you handle challenges as an entrepreneur, I guess? Like what are, what are your, how do you, how

Speaker 2 (29:06):
Do you do that? Have a glass of wine at night? No, I’m just kidding. <laugh> <laugh> I can do that now and, and shift now that I don’t have three jobs. Yeah, yeah. But no,

Speaker 1 (29:21):
Talk a little bit about how has fundraising been for you? Has that been challenging? How have you, how have you sort of dealt with that and overcome those challenges? Yeah. I

Speaker 2 (29:30):
Think you’re reading my mind cuz I’m definitely like the biggest challenge. I think it is, is raising money sometimes. And I think it also comes from being a middle class, mom of three raised by the, a dairy farmer, the hardest working people. I know. Yeah. Where my path to funding and being able to build looks a lot different than some of the other people who are funding, who have tech backgrounds. Like one of my early advisors was like, what are you building? Because do you want to build a healthcare company? Or do you wanna build a tech company? So my first week in my accelerator, I had to say, I’m building a tech company and this is why I’m comfortable with it because that looks different than the challenges that come up when you’re just building like a lifestyle or a, you know, home visiting company.

Speaker 2 (30:23):
And I’m using personal experiences here for those examples. But I think it comes down to every founder, right. Having to make that decision, like what does that five years look like? So that when challenges come up, you can say, is this challenge something that is really gonna affect those five years? Or is this challenge? Just something that like sucks right now. Yeah. <laugh> and I can, you know, get through it and change my decision, say, I’m sorry. Right. Saying, I’m sorry. And acknowledging that it was a mistake is one of the biggest things to do. Cuz then you can just move on because there’s gonna be challenges. There’s gonna be mistakes and there’s gonna be a lot of them. But looking at that five years and saying, this is what I wanted to found build. And is this challenge something I need to work through to get through? Or is it yeah, really? Not that big

Speaker 1 (31:18):
Of a deal. Yeah. Perspective, perspective. I love that. So if you could give other entrepreneurs one piece of advice, what would that be?

Speaker 2 (31:29):
I’d say, never think about quitting on your hardest day.

Speaker 1 (31:35):

Speaker 2 (31:36):
Because, and this is something that I say to my breastfeeding moms all the time too, you know, it’s gonna, it’s hard and you’re having a really a hard day, but don’t make those decisions when you are down in the trough of sorrow, is that what I call the TRO of sorrow or the trough of sorrows or like a really challenging day or things are just going wrong. Like don’t even entertain those ideas about quitting or shifting or even doing a, anything on those days. Do it on days where when your head is clear and you can really think through what happened, I think is my biggest thing because you know, founding a company is, is kind of bearing yourself in the sand and then the waves kind of come and get you out sometimes. Right? It’s it’s so up and down and up and down and you know, even just describing how it to people who don’t know startup life or building a business is just really hard because of that fact. Right. It’s not a, it’s not a straight line <laugh> <laugh>

Speaker 1 (32:36):
Oh my gosh. I love that. Yeah. It’s never a straight line. And I think that’s the thing about the overnight success myth and all these other things that you hear first, you have to, you know, have your idea and then you go validate it and then you raise money and then you launch and then like, it’s like, no, it just, that that’s over simplification of something that is ultimately a journey. Right. And, and every path is little bit different. So I love that. You said that I, I, I totally relate to that right now, too. <laugh> so, all right. I’m gonna give you a statistic and I want you to tell me what you think about it. Okay. Mm-hmm <affirmative> all right. So 42% of startups fail because no one wants what they’re building.

Speaker 2 (33:20):
So I think that’s an interesting statistic. I think that there is some truth to it. Right? You have to do your market validation and you have to do it truthfully. You have to talk to people. You have to know who you’re building for number one. Yeah. Because any idea can be a good idea, but if it doesn’t completely solve the problem for the person you’re selling it to, it’s not gonna work. Yeah. However, as you are testing it and not wanting to be one of those 42% of companies that, that fail, I feel like we also have to look at how they’re failing. Right. Mm. Is it because they don’t have the resources to do that testing? Is it because they don’t have the knowledge mm-hmm <affirmative> on how to do it or don’t have the support. Right. Don’t, don’t have that backup. And, and I think that statistic really resonates with me because of the statistics around like successful breastfeeding too. I’m gonna bring breastfeeding up again. Cause obviously,

Speaker 1 (34:28):
Please. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (34:29):
Please is, you know, where, you know, 80% of moms start breastfeeding and then exclusive breastfeeding rates at six months fall to 25%, 25%. Wow. And that is not the mom’s fault. Nine times out of 10, that is the system’s fault. And that is related to what is her around, around her to make her feel like she can do it right. And the resources she has to achieve it. Right. Yeah. Because it’s never black and white most of the time. And so I, I think similarly, when we think about success of startups is, you know, where are people coming from and what do they have for that support and the environment to help them do that? So

Speaker 1 (35:14):
I, now I’m curious, I don’t have children on my own. I have stepchildren. So obviously I didn’t give birth to birth to them. I have never, you know, breastfed or had to feed an infant, you know, or been responsible for the feeding of an infant in that way. Right. Maybe this is also a myth and you can, you can dispel it for me. And the rest of the audience is breastfeeding. Not just sort of like, it just kind of happens. I mean, <laugh>, is it, I guess it’s like breast child. I, you know, forgive my ignorance, but I really am curious. And what are the impacts of breastfeeding for a child or for a community or, or, you know, like, so talk a little bit about that because we have a, an audience that is, there’s a lot of female entrepreneurs, mm-hmm, <affirmative> a lot of people who maybe have had children or would like to have children. And I think you could probably dispel some myths in this area. And I think that’s part of what you’re trying to do in your company too.

Speaker 2 (36:11):
Yeah. Yeah. So there’s a couple of areas where when we think about it and what we vision, having a, a child that is just gonna happen, and that’s kind of a little bit around the, uh, society around breastfeeding and the culture of breastfeeding, where a lot of women didn’t grow up watching their mom or their, you know, siblings breastfeed just because of the way the industry has kind of led us down into thinking is best for the baby. And so most mom and babies can breastfeed, right? So it, most of the time, it’s not because your body can’t do it. There are instances where that is the case, but that’s not the 75% dropoff in rates, right. The 75% drop off on rates are how we help moms to breastfeed get through challenges. I mean, imagine if you had a four year old and a brand new bike and you were like, here you go, here’s your bike.

Speaker 2 (37:08):
Just go ride it. Do we ever do that? Yeah, no, no. That would never happen. Somebody is there, dad is there running them down the street for four days in a row? Yeah. So that they can learn to ride the bike. And that’s what breastfeeding needs to look like. Moms need somebody by them SI by their sides at times that they need the help to encourage them, tell them that they are doing it right. Or be preventative in saying like doing this can help it, make it easier. And that our society is not set up to help moms like that. Right. Right. Now, why

Speaker 1 (37:40):

Speaker 2 (37:41):
<laugh> so there’s a great video that is out. I think it’s by the world health organization, but it talks about how industry has changed our support for breastfeeding. And so in early in the 19 hundreds, it, it started to be seen that breast was for the lower income families, right? Because higher income families could afford formula. And the formula companies and marketing did a really good job of pushing that and they still do. And so a lot more energy and marketing and support comes from companies who wanna make money on my moms versus organizations that are trying to support moms in their decision to how to feed their baby mm-hmm <affirmative>. So where I come from with nurture talk is we wanna be the most unbiased source of infant feeding information, because I don’t know if we realize that moms are one of the most marketed groups of people in the world, because when you even take a pregnancy test or start looking at babies or us online formula companies and companies that don’t directly support breastfeeding, know it, and they start targeting you.

Speaker 2 (38:54):
And what happens is even some of these organizations that support feeding, they have alternate motives or funding from these organizations that don’t directly support breastfeeding. And so my mission with nurture talk to say, I’m a dietician. I recommend formulas. I recommend bottles. I recommend breastfeeding and help with that as matches healthcare clinically what’s right for the baby. And that should be what happens a hundred percent of the time. I am not saying you have to breastfeed. I’m saying that if whatever your decision is, we are the clinicians and the experts to help you get there without any alternate missions.

Speaker 1 (39:34):
Got it. I love that. I love that. And, and what is the impact of one kind of feeding or another on a child? I mean, assuming is it really about what’s best for the child and how do you, how do you know that this

Speaker 2 (39:48):
Is a tricky question and the reason why there is such big talk around mom shaming and you know, the, the thoughts around breastfeeding and how we treat bottle feeding is because scientifically we know that the infant’s gut and long term health is absolutely benefited by breastfeeding. I mean, a mom in, in the caves back in, I don’t know, what’s an whenever,

Speaker 1 (40:17):
Whenever the

Speaker 2 (40:18):
Caveman era, you know, they were made to breastfeed, right? They were not made to have something else. However, what is most healthy for mom and baby is what works best for them. And so I think where we get in trouble around supporting breastfeeding and hurting feeding is when our, as a healthcare system, as a community, as a, a commerce system, put our mission and feelings ahead of the moms. And I think if we don’t do that, I think more moms will be successful in breastfeeding because that guilt is taken away. So thinking that breastfeeding a hundred percent scientifically improves, uh, development, it improves gut health. It decreases risk for food allergies. It decreases risk for obesity. I mean, the list goes on and on, but that is not most healthy if mom is having a hard time or doesn’t want to do it. Yeah. Right. Because then we wanna look at how is the baby thriving and how is the mom thriving together?

Speaker 1 (41:25):
Mm. I love that. Oh my gosh. I love that. I, I love your mission and I love how your heart is really about women and babies getting what they need and what works for them. And I love that, you know, you’re, you’re trying to kind of create this distinction between, you know, you said society and commerce and that’s exactly what it is. It’s like, we’re not going to impose our values and our desires and our wishes and our agendas on you. We want you to be able to do what’s right for you and everything else should come secondary to that. So I love that. Thank you for that. It’s such an important mission and I appreciate that you are looking at, in, in such a great way in such a new way. And it’s, I just, I I’m really appreciative of what you’re doing for, for women.

Speaker 2 (42:09):
Oh, thank you. It’s okay. It’s great to have you along this ride with me. <laugh>

Speaker 1 (42:15):
All right. So I’m gonna ask you, you know, a, a fun question. If you could do anything else, like have any other job other than your own, what would you most like to try? Oh,

Speaker 2 (42:25):
This is so funny because just this morning, my husband and I were talking about, we just moved. So part of me being comfortable going full-time is because we were able to move or secure in a house. And <laugh>, I don’t have to worry about buying a house or, or doing anything else for the family for a little while. We were talking about redoing the kitchen. Yeah. Which isn’t gonna happen soon. Right. Because moving is expensive and gonna have to wait on that. But we were talking about little things and my daughter who is getting ready for school, she’s like, mom, maybe you should be in con construction. <laugh> And I lecture. And I always said, you know what? That would actually really make me happy. Right. Like I like designing spaces. And I mean, when my friend from grad school was like, what do you love to do? I mean, I love to restore furniture. Like how weird is that? Like, that’s like so cool. I was like, Allie, I need to get back to doing that. Right. Like on the side of building this amazing company, like I need to restore some chairs. Okay.

Speaker 1 (43:27):
Oh, I love that. Oh my gosh. I love that. Yeah. Yeah. All right. So what’s one question you wish I had asked you and how would you have answered it?

Speaker 2 (43:37):
I wish we would talk more about yeah. That imposter syndrome, right? Oh yeah,

Speaker 1 (43:47):

Speaker 2 (43:48):
Yeah. Yeah. Like, how does that affect building? Where does it come from? What does that mean about like being a female, right? Yeah. Or, or being somebody else that isn’t quite represented in the current founder ecosystem and investor ecosystem and business ecosystem. <laugh> all of it.

Speaker 1 (44:10):
So where do you think imposter syndrome does come from and, and what are, do you have any strategies for recognizing it and then dealing with it in a way that empowers you?

Speaker 2 (44:21):
I think it comes from, like you said, the typical vision of creating a company. And, and I first became obsessed in doing this is cuz I was worked to consult for a startup company by some guys that were trying to found a breastfeeding company. And they were like, we don’t know anything about breastfeeding. Can you help me? And so I started doing that and then I started listening to the podcast, right. How I built this. Right. Yeah. Where it’s just like this quick synopsis about how they came successful. Right. And so I came into it being like, man, these people did it and it was maybe easy for them. Like why am I having such a hard day? Or why am I not growing as fast? And so I, I think that’s where it comes from. And again, getting back to what the faces currently look like in the CEO and in investment culture. Right. Yeah. And comparing myself to those faces where 90% of those faces, you know, don’t have to shave their legs or <laugh> like put three kids to bed at night and you know, go grocery shopping every week. Right. Like that’s just not what I look like. And so comparing myself to them kind of added to that imposter syndrome a little bit. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (45:39):
So it’s almost like the, this overnight success myth and the way that I’m gonna say media in general kind of portrays success stories makes it look like we’re doing something wrong when our journey feels hard or doesn’t go the way that we think that it should and I’m putting should in quotes. Right.

Speaker 2 (46:00):
<laugh> yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. And I’m not, I love those podcasts that if I’m having a hard day course and I’m driving the kids to school and I listen to that, I come home. I’m like, yeah, <laugh> other people lived it. I can do it. Right. But then it comes down to like com compartmentalizing that into what your story looks like. Yeah. And I read something on, I I’m a part of Boston businesswoman, like a Facebook group. And she wrote, don’t compare your first chapter to somebody else’s seventh. And I think that, that is so true in what you and I, and others are doing now in startups. And that’s kind of, that was like, oh, that makes total sense. <laugh> yeah. I should think about that.

Speaker 1 (46:43):
<laugh> oh, I love that. Yeah, because it’s, again, it’s easy to say, you know, how I built this or other podcasts. I mean, even this podcast, we just, some two and a half years worth of work that you’ve done. And we put that whole story into what will essentially be a 45 to 50 minute podcast episode. It would be easy for someone just starting out or someone who’s only six months in to be like, well, I’m not as far along as Emily is mm-hmm <affirmative> but comparing yourself to someone else’s journey is, is exactly where imposter syndrome comes from. And it’s not the point. Mm. Right. I mean, it’s, that’s not, that’s just not, it’s not realistic. Your journey is your journey. Yeah. And it, you, it, you can’t cram it into a 50 minute podcast. <laugh> the actual journey. <laugh> yeah. We can talk about it later in 50 minutes <laugh>.

Speaker 2 (47:35):
And as for like what to do with it, I mean, I’m still working on that. Like I said, making sure you’re living in the week to week and that week you don’t look back on and yeah. You’re like, what was I doing? Yeah.

Speaker 1 (47:49):
I love that. Yeah. So you mentioned how I built this. Are there any other podcasts or books or resources that you’d recommend to a group of entrepreneurs and potential investors?

Speaker 2 (48:01):
Yes. The lean startup, obviously I think I’ve been referencing a little bit and I think you recommend ended it, the pitch on, I think it’s Spotify that 99 second pitch and getting ready to pitch. I mean, that was hugely helpful and I’m very much a person that is like, I’m not gonna reinvent the wheel cuz that takes too much time. So finding something that’s similar and being like, I’m gonna take my information. Right. And it’s all about structure, right? How are you gonna structure things and whatever you’re doing, whether it’s the pitch, whether it’s the marketing proposal, whether it’s like the investor proposal, it’s like, how are you structuring it? And so yeah, those things really help me in thinking about how to structure it, taking my clinical scientific mind and bringing it to the business side.

Speaker 1 (48:49):
Awesome. All right. So I’ll make sure to include those in the show notes so that you guys can get some of Emily’s wisdom through those resources. If anyone wanted to reach out to you or to follow what nurture talk is doing or ask you questions, what would be the best way for them to get in touch with you?

Speaker 2 (49:06):
Yeah. So I’m at nurture talk.com is our website right now we’re a, in the middle of shifting for our build, we’re building the app and we’re launching the app under a new name, which is super exciting. But, um, so we’re working on shifting that site right now to reflect that, but you can find me that find me there and on Instagram, um, at nurture talk and then I’m also Facebook at nurture

Speaker 1 (49:30):
Talk. Awesome. We’ll make sure to include links to that so that people can easily follow you and reach out and ask questions. And if you are a mom who is pregnant or just getting, you know, just starting breastfeeding Emily’s resources and her team and what she’s building, they can help. So please, please, please use that resource. And, um, I know that she would love to be able to help you get whatever goals and whatever needs met, uh, for you and your baby. So thank you so much, Emily for joining us today. Thank you for telling your story and thank you. Thank you. Thank you for what you do for the community.

Speaker 2 (50:08):
Oh, thank you so much for your work, Cynthia.

Speaker 1 (50:10):
Yeah, you’re welcome. All right. Thank y’all for joining us for this episode. As always happy entrepreneuring, and we will see y’all next time.

Thank you for listening to this episode of Precursa: The Startup Journey. If you have an idea for a startup and you want to explore the proven process of turning your idea into a viable business, check us out precursa.com. Make sure to subscribe to this podcast wherever you listen to podcasts, so you never miss an episode. Until next time…

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Cynthia Del'Aria

Cynthia Del'Aria is a serial entrepreneur and tech startup ninja, specializing in product-market fit and idea validation and helping new entrepreneurs reserve their time and money for the idea with the best shot at success. With two successful exits before 30, an active high-profit-margin SaaS in the commercial airline space, and two additional startups in the works, she knows what it takes to traverse the entrepreneur journey, the highs, and the challenges of turning a vision into a successful, viable business.

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Copyright © 2021 Precursa  |  All Rights Reserved  |  Site Created by Natalie Jark

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