With a background in health care and a startup focused on baby feeding, Andrea Ippolito feels like she’s been training for this moment her whole life.
“When you start a company like this one, your goal is to redesign the system, with deep respect for who and what came before you, but in working to create a much better experience for families that allows everyone to feel good about feeding their family,” said Ippolito ’06, M.Eng. ’07, founder of the Ithaca-based company SimpliFed. “That’s our true mission here.”
SimpliFed – a virtual platform providing personalized advice, service and support to parents – is responding to the baby formula shortage by offering free expert advice, and hosting a free virtual class to help new parents prepare for feeding their babies. SimpliFed is also offering a free class for postpartum parents, focused on ways to access formula along with a providing breastfeeding support, and how to harness a combination of both.
“This is important right now because everyone’s needs are incredibly unique to them,” said Ippolito, a lecturer in Cornell’s College of Engineering and the director of W.E. Cornell. “Being able to work with a maternal health provider expert to reach your goals, whatever those may be, to get your true questions answered is crucial.”
In May, SimpliFed closed a $6 million seed round. A portion of this new funding is dedicated to implementing new contracts with the U.S. military’s TRICARE program, Ippolito said, which will allow families to access up to six free lactation consultations per birth by SimpliFed’s providers. Currently, the company has six full-time employees and more than 50 providers.
Started in 2019 and a member of Rev: Ithaca Startup Works, the company also aims to democratize access to baby-feeding support, helping to raise awareness that these services are covered by health insurance.
“Not a lot of people realize that, under the Affordable Care Act, breastfeeding support is a covered benefit for commercial and Medicaid health plans,” Ippolito said. “Our goal as a company is to nonjudgmentally provide support, covered by your health plan, at no cost to you. That is critical right now as parents troubleshoot and work to feed their babies.”
Lauren Simpson is a marketing and communications coordinator for the Center for Regional Economic Advancement.