How we're disrupting the pregnancy testing industryFeatured
Meet Stix.We are a female-founded pregnancy test startup on a mission to make pregnancy tests accessible and empowering. We were tired of dated brands, overpriced tests, and worrying about familiar faces in drugstore aisles, so we decided to do something about it. Buying a high-quality pregnancy test should be easy, private, and delightful, no matter the result you’re looking for. Stix is over 99% accurate, gynecologist approved, fairly priced, and delivered in a discreet envelope. In the past year, we’ve grown from an idea to an actual business with customers who rely on Stix pregnancy tests for peace of mind every single day. Changing the landscape of pregnancy tests is no easy feat, but we’re well on our way. We want to take a bit to reflect on why we’re here and why this problem is so important to us.Who We AreMy name is Cynthia Plotch and I’m one of the Stix co-founders, along with Jamie Norwood. Over the past four years, Jamie and I have gone from friends to co-workers to co-founders. We met four years ago through the Venture for America fellowship. We instantly became friends and then went on to join an early-stage produce delivery startup on a mission to fight food waste. There, we saw the team grow from less than 5 to over 50 employees. It was a wild ride!We always knew we worked well together. Jamie is absolutely amazing at all things product, customer experience and operations, and I handle the marketing and growth side of the biz. More importantly, though, we both have a passion for improving the lives of women. We take women’s health seriously and we’ve both had terrible experiences buying pregnancy tests. We’re also good friends, which definitely helps and makes the day to day so fun.So, we decided to work on this together. We teamed up with amazing female physicians and a best-in-class pregnancy test manufacturer to bring this to life. Enter Stix!How Stix Was Conceived^ that’s a pregnancy test joke. Get it? 😉The now infamous story is true! I ran into her boyfriend’s mom at a drugstore, pregnancy test in hand. I darted out of there as fast as I could and called Jamie (in tears!) right away. We started talking about how terrible it is to buy (and use!) a pregnancy test. Whether it’s in the drugstore, grocery store, or on Amazon, the experience we heard about from every woman was always so negative.We quickly realized that the pregnancy test experience should be better, and got to work spending nights and weekends researching and talking to women. Together, we decided to build what is now Stix, pregnancy tests delivered straight to your door, centered around community, resources, and an experience designed by women, for women. No more baby faces on the box, confusing options, and paralyzing fear of running into someone. We started out packing Stix pregnancy tests into envelopes in our apartments in Philadelphia. We kept our full time jobs and built Stix on nights and weekends. After a few months of doing our full time jobs and Stix, we couldn’t do both any longer. So we raised a little money and jumped in full time. We spent the early days working out of coffee shops. A few months after that, we moved into a shared co-working space and then an accelerator program in NYC.What Building a Company is LikeThe truth is, no two days working on Stix are the same. We jump between working to keep the business going and strategizing on how we’ll grow and where we want to take Stix next. Thinking about starting something? Jamie and I have a whole lot of advice...Don’t go it alone. There are manys ups and downs in starting a company, so do it with someone (1) you trust wholeheartedly (2) you’ve worked well with in a professional setting before and (3) you consider a true friend. I’m so lucky that Jamie and I get to be on this Stix pregnancy journey together! I trust Jamie wholeheartedly and know that she puts passion behind everything she does for Stix. There’s no one I’d rather spend all day talking about pregnancy tests. We prioritize our relationship as co-founders, but we’re also good friends. This means that when things get tough or we face conflict (which happens - let’s be real), we can talk about it openly and honestly.Still, don’t go it alone. Jamie and I might be the ones with Stix in our LinkedIns, but behind us is a huge group of mentors and advisors. From the teams at Venture for America and Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator to the experts in branding, operations, product development, marketing, and generally building a company, Stix wouldn’t be where it is today without the help of dozens. Ask for help, often. We are great at asking for help. In the earliest days, that meant asking friends to be alpha testers and scrubbing our personal networks for the best possible introductions. Today, it means leaning on our great mentors as we evolve each element of Stix! Listen, listen, listen. We spend hours each week talking to customers to understand exactly who they are and why they love Stix! We’re able to take this feedback and make Stix even better. One of my favorite examples of this is with our packaging. We heard from multiple customers that they were hesitant to order Stix because they didn’t want a package sent to their home where it would sit out all day, and they didn’t want it sent to work because, well, privacy. So, we changed our packaging to ensure it would fit through a tiny mail slot. This allowed us to make these women’s lives easier and help way more women than we would have otherwise! But also, trust yourself. Like all founders, we’ve heard a whole lot more no’s than yes’s. From investors, partners, and others. But Jamie and I were convinced that we were onto something. It’s a good thing we’ve stuck to our guns, because it turns out we were right. Take a deep breath. Starting out is scary, but we believe in you. :) Jamie Norwood is the co-founder of Stix, a Philly-based direct-to-consumer women’s health startup starting with pregnancy tests. Before starting Stix, Jamie was on the founding team of Hungry Harvest, a Baltimore-based "ugly produce" startup. As their director of customer experience, she found her passion for building high growth teams. Jamie is also a 2015 alumni of the startup fellowship, Venture for America. She received her BA in English Lit from Tulane University. Cynthia co-founded Stix in 2019, a company on a mission to transform women’s health experience, starting with a direct-to-consumer pregnancy test. Stix most recently wrapped up the prestigious Entrepreneur Roundtable Accelerator in New York City. Before starting Stix, Cynthia was on the founding team of Hungry Harvest. As an early employee, she expanded the produce delivery company from Baltimore to Philadelphia and went on to lead their national expansion. Cynthia received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and is a Venture for America alumni.
Wow! Love the product idea, love the story and the advice - thanks so much for sharing!
This is awesome, Cynthia! I'd love to chat with you about bringing Stix to www.futureoffemtech.com (Femtech conference in Atlanta this October!). Feel free to reach out if you're interested!
This is brilliant. Will you be coming to the UK? I have a "give" if desired: I can intro you to a close friend who's an OBYGN in NYC. She has been writing content for BYRDIE and others re: fertility (her speciality) x beauty and other consumer products, and if you do produce any content, I'm sure she would like to be involved. Let me know if helpful!