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  • Adrianne Weir

How These 8 Women-Led Startups Use Social Missions to Drive Growth

Updated: Feb 28, 2019

Mothers Milk Cooperative named by Inc among most innovative, interesting, and purpose-driven women-led startups

Mothers Milk Cooperative: Adrianne Weir, Co-founder and CEO

The Background: Mothers Milk Cooperative is a breast milk bank. Co-founder & CEO, Adrianne Weir explains, "We refer to it as donating milk. Men donate sperm and get paid. Women can donate breast milk and get paid."


Adrianne Weir's Co-founder and mother, Elena Medo, was a single mom who unhappy with the breast pumps on the market that time, manufactured her own breast pump and turned it into national success.

A serial entrepreneur, Medo subsequently founded Prolacta Bioscience in 1999, raised $25 million in venture capital and created the first ever concentrated and commercialized human milk product.

Now Medo is CEO of Medolac, Mothers Milk Cooperative's partner that does the testing, processing, formulating, and partners with hospitals so that they can access the breast milk babies need.

The Purpose: Weir took these statistics to heart: Each year, 15 million babies in the world are born prematurely. By feeding premature babies a diet of only human milk, the instances of the leading cause of death in premature infants is reduced by 50%.

"We do not behave in a predatory way--this is not a pharmaceutical--this is not a biologic. We are not here to prey on people when that are extremely vulnerable. Having a sick infant is about as vulnerable as anyone will ever be," says Weir.

The Growth: Through Mother's Milk Cooperative's Milk Money program, more than $1 million was paid out to breast milk donors in the first year of the program.

Weir explains, "We saw breast milk emerging as a market. We created a cooperative business model so that for the first time ever the mothers who donate and make it all possible actually own the milk bank."

"We have designed our model to where we can consider the social impact of our work before considering the return to our investors. We have that built right in to the fabric of our company," says Weir. Click here to read the article