Social Impact Tech

Founder Spotlight: Lydia Simmons, Motherocity

See all of our DWeb for Social Impact Tech cohort companies pitch their startups LIVE in Houston!

by Lara Adekeye

Our Social Impact Accelerator is wrapping up, and we are excited about our upcoming Demo Day, a celebration and showcase of the founders’ completion of our accelerator program! 

Leading up to Demo Day, we’re excited to reintroduce the members of the Social Impact cohort. Today we sat down with Lydia Simmons, founder of Motherocity, a tracking app dedicated to bridging the gap between new mothers and postpartum parents. 

Read below and watch the full interview on YouTube to learn about Lydia Simmons and Motherocity, and reserve your seat to join us on December 7th at Demo Day to hear more from the entire DivInc Social Impact Accelerator cohort!

How did Motherocity emerge and what has been its impact so far for the community of mothers and families that it serves?

Motherocity Health is the health tracking app for postpartum moms and families. We are really encouraging recovery, education and wellness throughout the lifecycle of motherhood.

I got my start in the postpartum sector after having a negative postpartum experience with my firstborn. Back in 2018, I struggled with recovering during postpartum, and there was no one talking about postpartum. In fact, I went through an entire pregnancy and I didn't hear the word postpartum, one time, not from a medical professional, not during labor and delivery, and not prior to leaving the hospital. As a result, I couldn't find any access to information regarding postpartum so we started a company that really supplemented what my needs were. I was really failing on the nutritional side, lactation, and I was anemic, low iodine, and low magnesium. I just didn't know what to do. So when I figured out how to recover from that, I knew that if I was struggling as hard as I was, other women were having the exact same experience. Little did I know, I was absolutely right. So we launched a company five years ago to supplement that, a nutritional and CPG brand named Mu and then that inevitably led to Motherocity being born. 

With Motherocity we provide service through a handheld app. It allows moms to track their recovery, both physical and mental health, and also acclimate to understanding the landscape of what is coming in the future. We do a lot of preventative work, predictions, monitoring, and helping moms to understand the insights of their health at the present moment. Oftentimes things are not coming up in conversations because we're uncomfortable, or they're taboo, or simply no one will take the mom seriously. So we are breaking the barriers of those conversations and including these topics of discussion in a very compatible and convenient form through this app, to ensure that moms have a proper forum to understand and discuss through a safe and supportive community. That's what Motherocity is about, that’s our ethos.

As you mentioned, in society, many aspects of postpartum and motherhood are viewed as more uncomfortable or private conversations. Can you share with us how it has been for Mothericity to not only be bringing a product to market, but also to be tackling the issue of how society views motherhood?

It's incredible work, but it's incredibly hard as well. We have a lot of partners and friends in the industry that are doing their jobs as well to educate and to bring information forward. We're seeing an alleviation of this idea that these things shouldn't be spoken about, with people from celebrity status all the way down to your friends and your family. So that's success to us. That says, “Hey, I actually can talk about this and there's someone who wants to hear.” Or, that “I recognize that I have an issue and I want to put it out there just in case someone else will have the same issue,” and we love seeing that. That is effective. That says to us that education and compassion are getting out there. 

Another critical thing is understanding how the medical system is structured around pregnancy and postpartum. Just a little statistic, prenatal visits average about 16 visits for a woman, and more if that woman is classified into a category of risk. Now, women are commonly only invited back for one postpartum appointment and that happens at about six weeks. During that postpartum appointment, a woman typically receives a one-pager, and that one-pager asks questions about their mental health. So once you get behind the doors of your physician's office, and your physician is taking a look at that one-pager and seeing that there's no risk, then there is no conversation. And if you come back reporting some mental health concerns, you are referred into general practice. But the issue is that these things that arise in postpartum, are derivatives of what hormones are emitting from the uterus. And the doctors that delve into uterine medicine are OB-GYN. So, this paints the picture of what we're missing from that medical structure and why there is such a need for Motherocity Health to come in and fill the gap in the void of information, critical understanding, support, and daily check-ins with moms and their families.

Looking back on your Motherocity experience, what stage was the Motherocity team at when you felt it was the right time for an accelerator program and why DivInc specifically?

We had decided that it was time for us to consider fundraising. We also knew that there were some things we didn't know and we particularly didn't know them because in our ownership of our CPG brand, we had bootstrapped that operation. We didn't go through our five years saying let's fundraise, we were doing well and we didn't need to. I think it was a testament to us being in a different industry. We realized with Motherocity, when we first developed the app, that it could not be treated as a CPG company. We wanted to be in a system where we were putting the app before many people at once. So we knew immediately that we needed to transition into a B2B model for the app. So we said let's really understand what this journey is going to look like for us and what we may be oversighting. 

We decided to go with DivInc because one, we love DivInc. We've been following the company for quite some time. We know some of the key players and what they're doing in Texas and the nation. We're also very proud to see that the work is really the work. DivInc is really helping people. When DivInc says that we are really serving the underserved and underrepresented women, I see that, because I live in those categories. I've been impressed by DivInc's changemakers within the organization. I also wanted to be a part of your ecosystem because I think that it's making major moves and DivInc understands what some of those key things that are missing in our business sector are and how women are filling the gaps of that. More importantly, I am definitely for learning at no cost and I think that being non-predatory for small businesses is essential. I am very proud that DivInc has created a resource for us to learn without having to give away equity out of the gate, without understanding what equity is because, for some of us, we don't know yet. So I love that, I think it is pure. You guys have always held me up and I have to give credit where credit is due. That really is just my deepest honest feeling and experience. I'm proud to be a part of this. I say today, and I'll say it to you that Motherocity Health is the house that DivInc built.

We say this often, but DivInc is truly your family! Throughout the program, have you experienced any huge milestones or “aha moments?”

As a founder for a few years now, one of the things that I experienced often was loneliness. It's a lonely world as a founder and your circle is very small. If you're fortunate to have people as a part of that unit, you sometimes experience gatekeeping and so you burn out. But it's so exciting to sit across from like-minded people, and to say something enormous, and it'd be considered totally normal to them, and to have that support. That's been so fundamental for me, and for the health of our company, to have other people who may have different experiences to point out something that could be right or wrong, or ideas or just support, and mean it, and I love that.

As far as aha moments, one of the biggest things that made me smile was hearing one of the partners say to us during the workshop, that at the end of the day, every company becomes a SAS B2B company. That just tickled me so good. He's so right, and it was simplified in a way that I think just broke some barriers in thinking and ideas for some of our cohort members to understand that, at the end of the day, this is where we always end because that's the cycle of the business growth and scalability. 

That’s amazing. With Demo day approaching, how is Motherocity preparing for the showcase?

We are so excited. I think we're ready. I think you guys are doing a good job of making sure that we're prepared. On the natural and very human side of things, we are very excited to showcase what we have and to get together for this one last time in Houston. If I could speak for the group, I think the common ethos is just gratefulness. I see that in each and every one of us and we're not ready to say goodbye, and so we're not! We'll see a lot more of you guys and we'll be right there in partnership as we grow and bring you guys to our tables as well to include you in that growth.

DivInc’s DWeb for Social Impact Demo Day is on December 7th. For those not in Houston, you can join us on the live stream on all of our social media channels. Demo Day is an amazing opportunity to meet all of our Social Impact Accelerator cohort members and watch them pitch live!