Because We're Building a Better Breast Pump

One of 75 reasons we love St. Louis in 2016

Samantha Rudolph and Jared Miller came here for the Arch Grant. - COURTESY OF BABYATION
  • COURTESY OF BABYATION
  • Samantha Rudolph and Jared Miller came here for the Arch Grant.

Husband-and-wife team Samantha Rudolph and Jared Miller's downtown startup, Babyation (911 Washington Avenue, 844-744-7867), is doing the unthinkable: It's building a breast pump that doesn't suck. Which might be a slight oversimplification, because its Kickstarter-funded pump still sucks in the literal sense. It just won't be noisy, or require terrible contortions, in order to get milk from boob to bottle. If all goes as planned, it won't even require nursing moms to leave that important board meeting. Babyation's prototype quietly thrums away under your shirt, pumping out milk even as you pump out work. It should hit the market next year.

Before going all-in on Babyation, Rudolph and Miller had been living on the East Coast, and they're up front about the fact that they might never have considered moving back to her hometown had it not been for Arch Grants. The nonprofit gives entrepreneurs living in St. Louis $50,000 in equity-free grants, plus a wealth of pro bono support.

For Babyation, that has made all the difference. "We made more connections in three weeks here than over eighteen months working on this in Connecticut," Miller says. To date, Arch Grants has awarded $4.75 million in total, with 86 new companies funded and trying to become the next big thing. Not all of them are likely to change the world — but if they can help it suck a bit less intrusively, we're not complaining.

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