PE Accelerator Week 4: Stephanie Conduff of Leche Lounge
Leche Lounge is one of five companies participating in Project Entrepreneur’s five-week accelerator program at Rent the Runway Headquarters in New York City. Over the course of the #PEAccelerator, the founders will visit local tech companies, meet with venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, and connect with experts at Rent the Runway and UBS to gain insight and advice on topics critical to building and scaling a high-growth company.
For each of the five weeks of the #PEAccelerator, one of the five female founders incubating at Rent the Runway Headquarters will give the PE Community a sneak peek behind the scenes of the accelerator and share favorite moments, lessons learned, and key takeaways from the accelerator that week. For more from our #PEAcceleratorClass, be sure to follow Project Entrepreneur on Instagram (@pjtentrepreneur) to catch the founders’ Instagram Takeovers during the accelerator.
Stephanie Conduff is Co-Founder and CEO of Leche Lounge, which provides companies with Leche Lactation suites—portable units that can be placed temporarily or permanently on site for pumping and nursing mothers. In this blog post, Stephanie shares favorite moments, lessons learned and key takeaways from Week 4 of the 2018 PE Accelerator. She also shares her experience incubating at Rent the Runway headquarters in how New York City and how the city has inspired her to build her company in new and innovative ways.
“This week we focused on customer acquisition and how to use our pitch deck as a marketing tool. We also did some challenging media training exercises. In one exercise, a few of the female founders from the PE Accelerator Class were selected for a mock one-on-one interview. The interviews were recorded and then played for group feedback. One of the tips I loved from that exercise is when you walk into a conference room —whether or a meeting or interview—as you sit down, raise your chair to the highest position. This levels the playing field. Then lean forward, elbows resting on table and give it your all.”
“My favorite place in New York City is The Wing, a co-working space in SoHo. Mara Lecocq (a member of the PE Accelerator Class and Founder of Secret Code), and Lexi Tollefsen, a fellow Oklahoman who works in Product Marketing for Rent the Runway, brought me to The Wing on different occasions as their guest. We closed it down both times. The Wing is inspiring. I love sitting surrounded in a color-coordinated room of books published by female authors. We discussed product development and brand goals. And I checked out The Wing’s “pump room,” which was full of luxury products for moms—the space is functional and beautiful.
In contrast, elite social clubs in Oklahoma are penthouse petroleum clubs, which were designed by (and for) men. There you are surrounded by dark wood grain saturated with the scent of stale cigars and whisky. However, The Wing is the answer to centuries of exclusion, and I want to move in!”
My favorite moment this week was receiving an email from a male tribal chief after Leche Lounge was featured in Forbes this week. In his email, he said he hadn’t thought of this problem [of women not having access to dedicated spaces for pumping and nursing] before, and he wanted to learn more about Leche Lounge’s solution for our women and children in tribally-owned businesses. He read our story and wants to work with us to create change for his people! Witnessing the power of storytelling to create tangible change for others was so inspirational.
“I’ve enjoyed learning from my fellow PE Accelerator Participants. Each Tuesday we have a founders’ circle where we share experiences, challenges and things we are looking forward to in our life and business. This has become a sacred time for me—I’m really thankful to have this time to reflect on what it takes to be a female founder. It is also empowering to see the authentic person behind the polished pitch that got each one of us founders into the PE Accelerator.
Are you a female founder interested in joining our Accelerator Class next year? Sign up for the PE newsletter to be the first to know when applications for the Project Entrepreneur Venture Competition open this fall: http://projectentrepreneur.org/stay-in-touch/