In which sector is your company most closely aligned?
E-commerce / Direct to Consumer
What does your company do?
Nearly 131 million humans are born each year, 250 each minute, and what each postpartum mama has in common is the need for nutritional replenishment. Immediately after childbirth, hormones shift to enable lactation; the uterus must shrink from the size of a watermelon to a small pear; the 7-inch wound the placenta leaves behind must heal; and many more processes occur. Yet rarely do the meals fed to mamas reflect the nutritional demands of postpartum recovery. Considering each mama’s childbirth experience and postpartum needs, we can collect information from end-users regarding their delivery date, labor and delivery complications, and postpartum recovery demands to create personalized medically-tailored meals that ensure each user receives the exact nutrients and foods they need for a duration tailored to their postpartum stage and needs.
How long has your company had a presence in St. Louis?
Since our origin in 2021, St. Louis has been our home.
What makes the St. Louis region an ideal home for your company/organization? Why do you choose to operate your business here?
Because our founder became a doula in St. Louis, it was an ideal location for our headquarters. Fortunately, it’s where we identified the problem. Since 2016, Najjuwah has been a doula in St. Louis, but when her role as a birth doula ended, problems typically began. Women and girls having essentially healthy pregnancies and deliveries would start to develop postpartum complications. So to help, she began purchasing groceries or making meals here or there. Still, when she received more and more requests for food and recovery experiences began to improve, she discovered a need. Nearly 100 discovery interviews and mentor meetings later, she formed the idea of the business model. And because St. Louis is the place of Balancetopia’s conception, it’s where we will stay.
What has been the most valuable resource (person, tool, organization) for helping your company grow? How did you find it? How do you utilize it?
The most valuable resource this year has undoubtedly been our Arch Grants award and the resources we’ve gained from the network. After joining the 2022 cohort, the capital we’ve gained has been essential to transitioning from an idea to a product. It was nearly impossible for Balancetopia to grow without a team focusing concurrently on product development, customer acquisition, and scientific innovation. But by receiving an Arch Grant, we’ve expanded our team and are preparing for a summer 2023 launch.
What advice would you give new tech companies that are trying to navigate the current market?
To any new tech company, we also encourage them to focus on social impact. We live in a very resource-limited world, and it’s crucial to develop solutions that make essentials accessible. For Balancetopia, our mission is to ensure that nutrition meets postpartum demands. Still, there are so many people who need resources that can exist if we dare to imagine and build.
What new practice or policy did you put into place over the pandemic that has positively impacted your company?
Because nearly all supply chains slowed during the pandemic, we used this as an opportunity to imagine better outcomes. To do so, we began to meet with customers more regularly, and what started as an attempt to learn about the problem became a regular habit of asking before we built. Whenever we had a question about our product, we scheduled calls with our customers to discuss what they were experiencing, their problems, and what they wanted to fix in their lives. So one call at a time, we started developing features in our meal kits, and now we don’t create a function without talking with customers about their funk and how they want it fixed.
Tell us about the next big thing in your technology sector. How will this affect your business?
In 2023, we know people want to prevent illness because they fear suffering and mortality. So E-commerce companies are pushing supplements beyond gummies. Your daily requirement for green vegetables can be a powder, Vitamin C can be a juice shot, and coffee alternatives can come from mushrooms. Our market is overwhelmingly focused on whole foods as supplements. And because the data validates that nutrients are best assimilated when absorbed from whole foods rather than pills, we’re also growing within our sector by imagining and creating what a postpartum supplement would look like if it were a meal.
What is the accomplishment you are most proud to share from 2022?
Of all we are grateful for, our partnerships are our pride. Due to the scientific origins of Balancetopia, it was vital for us to partner with consultants who could guide us in making business decisions that advance science and our profits. As we began to transition from ideation to validation, we have also benefited from the formation of several partnerships that will allow us to build more relationships with customers. But beyond the relationships we’ve formed for our business model, we’re also highly grateful for our full-circle relationship with Centene Corporation. We initially spoke with Centene in 2021, discussing innovation, patient outcomes, and reducing patient costs. But receiving the Health Innovation Award Powered by The Centene Charitable Foundation this year validated our strides. Because it’s imperative to us to develop a solution that benefits both postpartum people and postpartum healthcare providers, it’s our relationships that keep us accountable and aware that we’re doing both.
What exciting development is on the horizon for your company in 2023?
Beginning in January 2023, postpartum people can order and review our meals directly from food delivery apps. While we’re building our native technology to enable users to personalize their meals according to their childbirth experiences and postpartum recovery needs, anyone in St. Louis can order a select number of meals as they’re created in our test kitchen. In preparation for our full launch in the summer of 2023, it’s essential that we consistently deliver reliably delicious meals, so we’re using the winter and spring to identify people’s favorite meals and record their benefits. In the summer, once we launch, all the meals that make the final cut will be personalizable and available for order on a subscription basis, and we’re so ready to learn and grow with the city.
How can people learn more about your company or get involved in what you are doing?
We’re always on the lookout to build our community of ambassadors, so if any pregnant or postpartum person is interested in being one of the first to join us for brunch or dinner to taste new menu items, they can email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise, you can visit balancetopia.com today to join our listserv and be among the first to receive updates on company news.