An entrepreneur who created a product to help working moms continue breastfeeding has won $8,000 in prizes at a local pitch competition.
Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women, or GROW, said it selected Julie Burrell, of Hesperia, as winner of the 2017 InnovateHER Challenge of West Michigan hosted last month by GROW, the Michigan Small Business Development Center, or MI-SBDC, and the Service Corps of Retired Executives, or SCORE.
InnovateHER contestants must be women entrepreneurs in West Michigan who have a business plan and products or services that help impact and empower the lives of women and families.
GROW chose Burrell for creating a hands-free breastfeeding accessory in 2016 called The Pumpndo that clips on to a nursing bra or tank top, eliminating the need to wear a separate bra designed for pumping.
Burrell is currently seeking a patent for The Pumpndo.
“Eighty-three percent of working moms are unable to continue breastfeeding for the first full year because pumping is such a challenge,” Burrell said.
“With my product, I want to help as many women as possible make pumping a more productive time for them by helping them keep their hands free. The longer they’re able to pump and breastfeed their child, the better.”
Burrell won a package of local services worth more than $8,000, and GROW submitted her as a candidate for the national semifinal InnovateHER pitch competition, where she will have a chance to win more than $40,000 in prize money.
Judges will evaluate the entries in the national InnovateHER contest based on whether the products have potential for commercialization, how big of an impact they have on the lives of women and families, and whether they fill a need in the marketplace.
The first-, second- and third-place winners for the national competition will be announced July 31.
For more information about the InnovateHER competition, visit challenge.gov.