When Victorian-based engineer, Alexandra Sinickas, had difficulty breastfeeding her daughter, her innate habit of problem-solving followed. Before she knew it, Milkdrop was born and Alex found her and her husband nurturing not just a baby, but a small business too.
“I used a breast pump to feed my daughter, who’s two-years-old, and the truth is I found it really hard. I was in pain and discomfort, and I was also frustrated because I felt like a failure for not collecting enough milk.” explains Alex.
After speaking with friends, Alex found she wasn’t alone. To her, it seemed like women’s comfort and experience could really be improved, so she set about to build a team to completely redesign the pump “from the nipple up”.
Debuting their first product in late-April — an ultra-soft silicon cushion that stretches over existing breast pumps to add softness and comfort — and with a completely new take on the traditional pump, one that’s wearable, silent and bespoke, Alex is justifiably proud of her team and the women who have helped her in design and testing.
“Both our products are genuinely innovative and there’s nothing else like them around.” she says. “Considering 85 percent of babies born in Australia and the US have a mother who pumps, that’s millions and millions of women whose pain and discomfort is being overlooked.”
Alex’s inventive solution is exactly why Milkdrop Pumps received a 2021 Amazon Launchpad Innovation Grant, valued at over $200,000.
“We’re delighted to receive an Innovation Grant and to be part of the Amazon Launchpad program,” says Alex, who had the program recommended to her by the founders of fellow startup and 2020 grant recipients, Great Wrap.
Amazon Launchpad is Amazon’s program to help startups and entrepreneurs grow their business online. It helps with inventory management, order fulfilment, customer service, and marketing support, allowing brands to focus their efforts on the innovation that results in more unique products.
“It’s always welcome to have a cash injection, but it’s the help and advice that comes with it that often proves to be the most valuable,” she says, referring to the Amazon advertising support, access to Amazon experts and industry mentorship elements of the grant package.
Alex admits it’s been a steep learning curve, but an exciting one. “As engineers and designers primarily, we’re learning everything we can as quickly as possible, in terms of building a brand and an online presence. We’re thrilled to be involved with and learn from Amazon Australia who are such an innovative force.
“Being in an environment where we can learn best practice from those businesses who’ve done it before, and from Amazon with all their network and exposure - it’s invaluable to us.”
With big ambitions for the years ahead, Alex is looking to the US as the first step outside Australia.
“We’re only just starting our journey with Amazon.com.au,” she says. “But our vision is to change the way women around the world feel about pumping and Amazon’s global presence brings that into even sharper focus.”
Reflecting on her journey thus far, she says: “no business or person has gone through the last 18 months unaffected by COVID-19. It has presented us some challenges in supply chains of extra-soft medical-grade silicone, but on the other hand, remote working has been a wonderful opportunity.”
Her sentiment is echoed by Australian SMB owners in the 2021 Amazon Launchpad Innovation Report, which revealed that 78 per cent of SMBs believed e-commerce and digital tools could allow them to work from anywhere.
“We’ve been able to reach mentors, investors, and partners we wouldn’t have had access to previously with this new way of working and doing business. Especially from regional Victoria.
“When these events happen it always throws up uncertainty, but out of uncertainty comes opportunity, right? I’m grateful it has been the case for Milkdrop.”
Check out Milkdrop and other Amazon Launchpad Innovation Grant Winners at the Amazon Australia Shop Local store - here