Founder Erin Schurtz had a hard time meeting the daily recommended protein intake (the industry recommendation for pregnant women is between 70 and 90 grams per day) during her first pregnancy and looked to conventional protein powders to supplement her diet. But she found that many products were labeled as not safe to consume for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Schultz said she found that protein powders also fell short of the vitamins and minerals found in prenatal vitamins. She said she also battled with the common pregnancy side effect of nausea and wanted to create an alternative to a prenatal pill.
"I couldn’t take my prenatal [vitamin] because they’re huge, they sit in your stomach, they make you feel even more sick than you already feel and it was a miserable experience," Schurtz told NutraIngredients-USA.
"I wondered if you could add a prenatal [to a protein powder] instead of random vitamins and make it equal to a prenatal.”
Schurtz took the idea to her friend and OBGYN, Dr Yvonne Bohn – who had other clients experiencing similar issues – and together they developed Mommi protein prenatal powders.
The development phase took Schurtz and Bohn a full nine months before launching vanilla and chocolate prenatal whey protein powder products available in 1.08 lb (the equivalent of 15 servings) pouches for $34.95.
Re-entering brick & mortar
Mommi began selling in brick and mortar retail through its formulator and co-manufacturer who had a built-in distribution network in place.
“We were with a partner that was a manufacturer that ended up going out of business. All our relationships with retail were through their distribution network,” Schurtz said.
The dissolved partnership was a blessing in disguise, according to Schurtz, as it gave the startup an opportunity to set out on its own and develop a solid direct-to-consumer online strategy selling its products through its company website and on Amazon.
Moving entirely online also encouraged Schurtz to take her social media strategy up a notch, growing its Instagram presence 300% from two months ago.
Schurtz added that the company plans to re-enter conventional retail eventually.
Product development and consumer reception
When Mommi first launched its prenatal protein powders it included fish-oil based omega-3 DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) but quickly realized it was missing the mark on taste, according to Schurtz.
“It was just too hard to get the taste right and for pregnant women that’s a very important thing,” she said.
Right now, the company is working on an algae-based DHA protein product that it hopes to release by December 2018.
According to consumer feedback, Mommi was also having a positive effect on reducing nausea.
“It isn’t directly correlated and it’s not something we say on our packaging, but it is something that our customers tell us all the time,” Schurtz claimed.
Nutritional support throughout every stage of motherhood
The goal of Mommi is to support women when from the time they try to become pregnant to after their child is done breastfeeding, Schurtz said.
The company is working to develop “more refined products” that address the specific nutritional needs of women trying to conceive and those who are breastfeeding.
“You need different things at different stages of your pregnancy,” Schurtz added.
“We want to be a better way to get nutrition for moms in whatever stage of motherhood that they’re in.”