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Dr. Avital Beck of MilkStrip: “Envision what your product will do”

Envision what your product will do: The first step to creating a product or company is to draw out and describe what your product will achieve. From there you can build everything out. As a part of our series called “Meet The Inventors”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Avital Beck, Ph.D., CEO, CSO […]

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Envision what your product will do: The first step to creating a product or company is to draw out and describe what your product will achieve. From there you can build everything out.


As a part of our series called “Meet The Inventors”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Avital Beck, Ph.D., CEO, CSO & Co-founder of MilkStrip.

Dr. Avital Beck is the CEO, Chief Science Officer, and co-founder of MilkStrip, overseeing all business decisions for the biotech and wellness company and a subsidiary of DiagnoseStick. In this role, as a leading innovator in the baby-tech industry, she brings to bear her expert background in biotech. MilkStrip is the only company that offers breast milk diagnostic kits that deliver real-time results and actionable results at-home without the long delay of lab work.

Prior to co-founding MilkStrip, Avital spent over six years in the Israeli biotech industry as a Research & Development Scientist and an intellectual property manager. She received her Bachelor of Science in biotechnology from Bar-Ilan University and Ph.D. track followed by two post-doctorates at the Weizmann Institute of Science. Avital’s expertise extends to molecular cell biology, diabetes, stem cell research, microbiology and bioinformatics. She is also the mother of six children, all of whom she breastfed while pursuing her full-time STEM career. Avital is passionate about helping mothers thrive in their professional careers while raising babies in the modern world.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?

I was raised by a scientist and math professor, my father, and an arts enthusiast, my mother. It was a great experience growing up in a family that was both analytic and creative. I was encouraged to think and chase my dreams of becoming a scientist while also able to express myself through singing, drawing, and sewing. This balance of creativity and science is necessary to be an entrepreneur and has allowed me to create MilkStrip, the only company on the market that offers breast milk diagnostic kits that deliver real-time results and actionable insights at home, without the need and long delay of lab work.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“When you never fail because something is too easy it leads you to not know how to react in the face of failure. It’s better to be trained so in worst-case scenarios you can restart and try again.”

I always had to work hard for my grades and my achievements and didn’t always get what I wanted even though I tried. I learned from this experience and trained myself to keep trying even if I got something wrong. Essentially, if you work hard then you are not afraid to fail in the end and this is the best path towards success. As a mother, I worry more about the child that has it easy, and gets an A without any effort than the one that gets a B after learning and struggling. Although it may seem discouraging and frustrating at times, I always tell my kids they have to train and know how to work hard, and sometimes they won’t get everything they want. It’s a great preparation for real life and the best lesson in order to reach real accomplishments.

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D., gave me a different perspective on how people think, and although it is targeted toward marketers it’s good for all aspects of life. The book truly helps you understand people and their actions.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. What was the catalyst that inspired you to invent your product? Can you share the story of your “ah ha” moment with us?

I knew I wanted to launch my own startup but needed to make sure I did my research first to ensure my company was successful in the long run. I conducted a survey to see what the best industry to enter would be and recognized the challenges of starting a company in cancer research due to funding. Ultimately, I brainstormed with my co-founder, Dr. Hadas Shatz-Azoulay, and we soon came up with multiple ideas. We realized moms worldwide were struggling with the same breast milk problems we were as working mothers, in determining whether their breast milk had expired and was meeting their babies’ nutritional needs. This was the ah-ha moment that led to the creation of MilkStrip.

There is no shortage of good ideas out there. Many people have good ideas all the time. But people seem to struggle in taking a good idea and translating it into an actual business. How did you overcome this challenge?

I did my research by Googling and reading up on how to launch a startup. I learned about the surveys that you should do to understand the market you are trying to enter, how to talk to investors, and conducting competitive research. Hadas and I built materials and talked to as many people as possible to learn more about what they did when starting their own companies. We were driven to learn more and went out of our way to drive to others to get their insights and advice. By doing so, we not only gained knowledge from a variety of people that experienced different things but also made many new connections.

Additionally, we joined an accelerator and understood that ideas need funds to translate into a business. Through this program, we met our first investor, who introduced us to his friends. They gave us a year to develop a prototype for MilkStrip, but we were able to create two products within just three months.

Often when people think of a new idea, they dismiss it saying someone else must have thought of it before. How would you recommend that someone go about researching whether or not their idea has already been created?

To research whether an idea has been done before, you need to do a product benchmark and patent search. Even if there are companies that do similar things, you must be able to distinguish your product from the initial competition’s patent. Don’t get discouraged, instead see how you can improve a product and make it better to help solve consumer problems.

For example, MilkStrip opens up the possibilities for parents to use real-time diagnostic kits at home to learn more about the freshness of their breast milk, their breast milk’s vitamin levels and how to best care for their babies with actionable insights. There is no packaging up a test kit, no mailing, no labs, no wait and parents get results in just three minutes.

When doing research, we found that when mothers become uncertain of the vigor of their breast milk, they would rather be safe than sorry. They often throw away milk they are unsure of and prefer to feed their babies formula or pump new milk instead of potentially making their child sick. In fact, 40.6% of women question whether or not their breast milk is still fresh before giving it to their baby. Moreover, more than 60% of women throw out stored breast milk, which is usually still good for consumption, because they are unsure of its quality profile. In the United States alone, a total of 85% of mothers breastfeed their babies in the first three months postpartum, which means a large portion of breast milk is being unnecessarily thrown out.

In addition to throwing out perfectly good milk due to uncertainty, mothers are often unaware if their breast milk is optimal for their growing babies. While the overall benefit of feeding babies breast milk has been well established and will always be the optimal option compared to any formulas on the market, mothers need and want to know more about the nutrients they are feeding their babies.

Did you have a role model or a person who inspired you to persevere despite the hardships involved in taking the risk of selling a new product?

I didn’t have one specific role model to look up to while creating MilkStrip. But I always looked up at women with great careers or at mothers who raise large families. I also didn’t know many people entering into the baby tech industry, but regardless of the lack of role models it was a blessing in disguise as it may have resulted in creating fear after hearing their challenges.

For the benefit of our readers, can you share the story, and outline the steps that you went through, from when you thought of the idea, until it finally landed on the store shelves? In particular we’d love to hear about how to file a patent, how to source a good manufacturer, and how to find a retailer to distribute it.

When I came up with MilkStrip I surveyed different industries and markets to see which were the best to enter. After I brainstormed with my co-founder and saw that mothers throw out breast milk every day due to uncertainty about its freshness while others don’t know how their diet affects the nutrients in breast milk. During this time I was constantly researching and checking patents to ensure there were no similar products out there that could create an issue. I also networked with many people and eventually joined an accelerator that introduced me to my first investor. From there we were given a year to create a product and were able to create two products in two months.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Both my co-founder, Hadas and I are mothers with five and six kids respectively, so you can only imagine what juggling working full-time and helping the kids around the house is like. One day we had a meeting with an American investor on Passover Eve (we’re based in Israel) and we were in the middle of cleaning the house trying to prepare everything for the holiday. In all the frenzy of the moment we forgot about the meeting. Just in time, we were able to quickly pull ourselves together, change outfits, and put on makeup. Once we joined the Zoom and saw each other, we started laughing at our situation and how quickly we switched mindsets to be professional.

The early stages must have been challenging. Are you able to identify a “tipping point” after making your invention, when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

I would say MilkStrip is still in the early stages. Although we have been doing research and establishing our business for a few years, we officially launched in October 2020 and are still learning a lot as we get our name out there.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Invented My Product” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

Envision what your product will do: The first step to creating a product or company is to draw out and describe what your product will achieve. From there you can build everything out.

Never do it alone: Don’t be afraid to ask your friends or colleagues for help as you may never know what ideas they can bring to the table. They will also be great support for when things get tough and you can help drive each other through starting your company.

Be flexible: Your ideas may change as you explore what you are trying to solve or achieve. Some things may not work so you will have to alter your original plans.

4.Make people passionate about your product: As founders, we’re passionate but it doesn’t mean everyone else is. It’s our job to make others understand our vision and get them excited about our product.

Celebrate the small wins: Take time to appreciate all of your efforts. For example, if your company hasn’t launched but you’ve developed your product, recognize the achievement and that all of your work will ultimately lead to success.

Let’s imagine that a reader reading this interview has an idea for a product that they would like to invent. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?

Do your research and see if there is competition out there. Afterward, try to see how your idea significantly differs and solves problems for consumers.

There are many invention development consultants. Would you recommend that a person with a new idea hire such a consultant, or should they try to strike out on their own?

There is nothing wrong with having consultants. You can always ask for advice when you are unsure about your business or product, and its success.

What are your thoughts about bootstrapping vs looking for venture capital? What is the best way to decide if you should do either one?

It depends on if you have extra funds, but never overuse your money as you wouldn’t want to get in a sticky situation where your company or product is fully realized but you suddenly run out of funds. Strategize your budget and limit the spending amount.

If you don’t have money, you have to understand that it’s not feasible to start your company and that you must get venture capital.

Ok. We are nearly done. Here are our final questions. How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

I am trying to help mothers by providing them with insights into their breast milk so no drop is wasted and give them the knowledge of how to optimize their breast milk. If there are elements in your milk that affect memory and cognition…why not add the right nutrients to your diet to increase it in your baby? I think that knowledge is power. I also help promote women in STEM and gender equality by presenting at high schools to teach young girls, or younger entrepreneurs that they can do anything they want and can even raise a family while doing it. Together with a friend we are now building an accelerator for religious women that are under-represented in the hi-tech ecosystem in order to provide more opportunities and to increase diversity and innovation.

You are an inspiration to a great many people. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Similar to the previous question, I have many opportunities to volunteer in promoting women and teaching them how to be more influential. I volunteer at high schools and talk to girls about science and how they can still have a family while working. I work to help women overcome the glass ceiling and that is the movement I’d like to see move further along.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

I would love to sit down with Melinda Gates. She started off in a male-dominated industry while working at Microsoft and has empowered girls and women to join STEM careers. She has also helped foster the health and prosperity of these women and girl’s lives through their families and community of their families and communities.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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