When Duty Calls, Freeze It Flat
Jillian Rothe is an entrepreneur by accident. Doctors told her she couldn’t have children because she had endometriosis. Then she got pregnant while balancing a busy career working and traveling in Singapore. She and her husband, Steve Worster, developed a novel approach to storing breast milk. Rothe had a small freezer in Singapore, an oversupply of breast milk, and storage space was at a premium. Rothe and Worster, both engineers, visited a dollar store for parts. Then they created a product that froze breast milk into small, flat packets and MAMMaway was born.
Some of their best feedback comes from parents serving in the military. Rothe got a call from a female naval captain who needed Freeze It Flat the next day. One of her sailors, Brianna Garcia, was about to deploy on a ship called the Mercy.
“She pumped throughout her 52-day deployment and brought home 303 ounces of breast milk. That was off the West coast during COVID. Her baby was less than a year old. She brought the milk frozen in a cooler back home. It’s hardcore and it’s not easy—you have to be strong to do it,” said CEO of MAMMaway Jillian Rothe.
Rothe refers to her husband as Chief Household Officer because he takes care of matters at home so she can run MAMMaway. He got a job at Accurex, which prompted their move to Denver in 2019. Rothe also works as the global PMO lead for Schneider Electric.
When MAMMaway first started, they put a 12-ton hydraulic press in their garage and Rothe sewed elastic straps together. They spent several years bootstrapping the business, paying off the patent, and upgrading tooling.
Now Rothe and Worster have three kids, ages 7, 5, and 3. Business continued to expand and they looked for help in the entrepreneurial community. Rothe joined Fast Foundations Mastermind, which is based in Fort Collins, to take her business to the next level. The incubator provides coaching and support for 25 entrepreneurs from all spectrums of experience and industry.
The coaching sessions are yielding results. Rothe invested in social media to help her connect with customers on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. From July to August, Rothe’s revenue grew seven times. She is finding traction with working parents who don’t have a support network nearby. Her ideal customer lives in an urban setting and doesn’t have room for an extra deep freezer.
“With first time moms, they think about it more. Second time moms are like—where were you? They have to deal with freezers and milk. They’re like—brilliant, done, I’ll take it,” Rothe said.
In 2019, Rothe won the elevator pitch at Denver Startup Week. She pumped during the pitch to show judges how common this lifestyle is for parents. Her pitch worked and now Rothe is back to grow her startup. That could mean moving shelves of product from her garage into a warehouse. Rothe is evaluating how much faster she could scale the business with funds from investors. She is considering doing a fundraising round soon.
Rothe is looking forward to the mix of people she’ll meet at the Physical Product Showcase on Friday, September 23.
“The involvement of the Downtown Denver Partnership to support the entrepreneurial community is awesome. I haven’t seen that anywhere else,” Rothe said.