Madison Kochanek and Tyler Crews

Innovator of the Week

Madison Kochanek and Tyler Crews

Co-Founders of Lily Pods

 

Please provide your 30-second pitch about your company.

Lily Pods is a device that allows women and girls everywhere to go about their daily lives without the hurdle of menstrual cramps. The device is a pair of slim, portable, adaptable, and wireless ‘pods’ that adhere to the skin painlessly, and can be used over and over again due to their ability to recharge. Lily Pods alleviate menstrual cramps through infrared heat, which is unobtrusive to a body’s natural heat and proven to work for this intended purpose. With a lack of competition in the menstrual cramp relief market and a large target population, the potential for Lily Pods’ success is immense.

Madison Kochanek soldering wire for Lily Pods

Madi in our lab at 21 C innovation soldering their heating wire

What was the inspiration behind your company idea?

We are two teenage girls who have experienced the problem first hand. We realized that so many teenage girls are sidelined from their lives, whether it be missing class or having to sit out at sports games. We’ve seen this problem negatively impact ourselves and our friends, yet we noticed that no one was identifying it as an issue or coming up with a viable solution. We thought, who better than us to tackle this problem head on: we know our market because we are the market, we understand the problem because we’ve experienced it, and we are fully invested in creating a solution because it will help us.

How was BizGen a valuable experience and what discoveries did you make through the competition process?

BizGen 2017 Lily Pods

Madi and Tyler Pitching at BizGen 2017

BizGen taught us that there is so much more that goes behind building a product and company than we could have ever imagined. Before this process, we lacked backgrounds in technology and business, meaning that we were truly just winging it. Yet, we came out of the experience with a working prototype that we constructed on our own and a fully comprehensive business proposal, complete with clinical trials and certifications and patenting. We realized that we were fluent in the terminology that daunted us before, using phrases like ‘total addressable market’ and ‘milliamp hours’ without hesitation. We were able to come this far due to our extensive network of mentors who have donated their time to guide us throughout this process.

Lily Pods Receives BizBen Award from Ken Johnson

Madi & Tyler receiving their 1st Place Award from Ken Johnson – Director of BizGen

The biggest takeaway, however, is the confidence we gained in ourselves. BizGen helped us realize that we are truly onto something, and this idea has the potential to go big if we commit ourselves to take it there.

What’s the best advice you have received?

The best advice we have received probably came from Victor J. Glover, an Astronaut with NASA, who we had the pleasure of speaking with at the Conrad Spirit of Innovation Summit at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. He reflected on his own journey and told us that the most valuable thing he has learned is that we are constantly learning. It is never too late to pursue a new educational or career path because every day we should strive to know more than we did the day before. This resonated with us because we are at a time in our lives when we are constantly being told that we have to choose what we want to do. Victor told us that what we want to do and who we want to be can change, and that’s okay.

What was the most challenging part of developing and pitching your startup idea and how did you overcome it?

Lily Pods Pitch Camp

Madi and Tyler in a pitch camp with two of their mentors, Mary Jo Brown (top right) and Karil Reibold (bottom right)

 We initially thought that our biggest challenge in pitching this idea would be getting people over the initial discomfort they feel when they hear the term period cramps. This is an issue that no one talks about, and many boys and men feel the need to belittle or mock the issue because they don’t understand it. We were scared that if we faced an all male or predominantly male judging panel, our pitch would be looked over due to the topic we’re addressing. Luckily, we have  for the most part been received with an immense amount of support and respect, with judges and competitors coming up to us and commending us on our ability to take such an uncomfortable issue and make it a comfortable one. We recognize that this problem can be uncomfortable to talk about, but we push through that and encourage our potential investors and judges to consider it in the same way they would consider back pain and sports injuries.

What are your thoughts now about starting your own company, either now or later? Lily Pods

We are excited to move forward in starting our own company, but are also cautious in not being too hasty. We are taking the necessary steps to move forward properly, securing intellectual property and finances first before moving public or extending our network globally. Our experiences thus far have given us the confidence to move forward, and with guidance from existing technology and business luminaries we are certain that there is a future ahead of Lily Pods

What does the future look like for your company?

Both of us are moving to New York and will be relatively close to the Manhattan area, with Madi attending Iona College in New Rochelle and Tyler attending New York University located in the city. We have already secured connections and a work space within the city, and are excited to explore the resources that the new setting has to offer. We look forward to extending our network and continuing our research, hoping to finalize prototyping within the next year and then move forward with our clinical trial, FCC testing, and UL testing.