Interviews with purpose-driven leaders who are dedicated to helping others and making a positive impact in the world.
October 11, 2023
Vanessa Jupe | Leva
TELL US, WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
My name is Vanessa Jupe and I’m the founder and CEO of Leva. Our goal is to help women have happy, successful lives. Leva is an ecosystem that supports pregnant and postpartum moms in that window of a 20-month journey. If new mothers use our app, they have the ability to get insight into what’s happening with their bodies and their baby’s body throughout their pregnancy. Once their baby is here, they can track other needs.
Leva has three big pillars: we’re 100% personalized, we offer tools and techniques for mom to feel in control, and we have real-time support and real-time answers. The 100% personalized experience means that the experience is wrapped around each individual to give her what she needs at that moment, based on her own interests and based on her baby’s due date. The tools and techniques track things like breastfeeding, bottle feeding, baby milestones, and growth. We also have mindfulness meditations available to help curb anxiety and depression and help moms feel more in control of their lives. Through real-time support and answers, we have hundreds of well-researched articles and on-demand videos that cover topics important to moms, as well as the ability to book one-on-one sessions with six different specialists in areas like nutrition, sleep, lactation, career coaching, mental wellness, and physical fitness. We try to offer something that can really help moms on their entire journey with their new baby. We want to help her feel much better, and much more herself, and in control.
HOW DID YOU GET HERE?
My background has always been in technology. I started out in my life as a web developer, and then ended up in digital product management, leading large teams with profit and loss statements of hundreds of millions of dollars. It’s been a really interesting 20-year-plus career journey. But how I got here specifically is when I became a mom six years ago. I was shocked at how difficult that transition was. I had a lot of struggles with breastfeeding and couldn’t find the information or support that I so desperately needed. That was coupled with sleep issues with my baby and going back to work. It was just a very difficult and challenging time. I just wanted to do something to help and make other women’s lives better. I didn’t really think I’d ever become an entrepreneur since I had a very successful corporate career, I just knew that something had to change. In 2020, when COVID happened and everyone was sent home from work, several of my friends ended up becoming pregnant. That’s when I realized it was my call to action, I had to make a difference. So I started Leva about half a year later, gathering scientific research and translating it for new moms across the spectrum from breastfeeding issues to career issues. By working with a lot of really fabulous freelance writers and consultants, I’m bringing that to life. Now we have an app-based ecosystem with six different types of consultations that moms can have. It really looks at the entire range of their needs, pain points, and support. We’re partnering with businesses to better support and retain their employees.
WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR? WHY IS THIS WORK IMPORTANT TO YOU?
I have always been very focused on women’s rights. Over my career, I’ve personally seen and experienced a lot of the challenges of being a woman in the workplace. In general, I feel it is critically important to me to support other women. Over time, the company will expand for all women beyond mothers. But obviously, my significant pain point as I became a mother is what inspired me on this journey. I found it truly resonates with so many other women out there who have had their own struggles, either with breastfeeding or going back to work after having a baby. It’s not easy. Making a difference in women’s lives is such an important body of work. I’m excited to make a difference.
WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
The easy answer is that every time we have tens of thousands of unique visitors on our website every month getting information, we’re making an impact and supporting moms when they need it. I also think of the qualitative side. We see impact in those moments when a mom emails us and says she had a really fabulous session with our lactation consultant or tells us breastfeeding is going better so she’s excited about going to the pediatrician because her baby has fat rolls now. Similarly, on our career coaching side, we’re making an impact when we see moms getting the promotions they’ve been working toward, or switching careers to an employer that’s right for them. I love the quantitative side, but the qualitative side is what touches your heart.
On the employer front, 43% of new moms leave the workforce within a year of having a baby. It’s a massive retention challenge for employers. We want to be that supporting mechanism to keep moms at work, to keep them happy, to make them feel supported, and to help them understand how they can balance being a new mom and having the career of their dreams. They can do both, but it’s definitely different after having a baby. There’s a lot of data on postpartum issues that moms are experiencing in our country. We have a lot of issues with suicidality in new moms. There’s been a three-times increase in suicidality in the last 10 years in the United States. We’re really trying to intervene, and provide support and reassurance. I’m hoping we can really have a big impact and change those things by partnering with other organizations and having moms come to our platform.
WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO DO THIS WORK?
I have a fabulous team that inspires me every day. My kid is also a huge inspiration and such a big advocate for what we’re doing. I work with folks who came to me, who reached out because they saw what we are doing and wanted to be part of it. Having that sort of community within your coworker group is also inspiring because you’re there every day knowing why you’re doing what you’re doing. I’m inspired by employers we work with who want to make a difference and want to support their employees. It makes me feel really good that there are awesome workplaces out there trying to make a difference. There’s a lot of inspiration from a lot of different angles.
WHAT’S YOUR VISION, YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
We want to support women throughout their entire life journey. It feels like women should have more equal footing than what we have. In the last year, we saw that 10% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women, which is a huge accomplishment but is nowhere near where we need to be with women making up 51% of the population. I want to have our team work with women getting ready to graduate from college and help set them up for career success. We want to help guide them through difficult conversations, negotiations, and experiences that you don’t know unless you’ve been through them. We want to make sure we’re encouraging other women who are already having success in the workforce to support those coming after them. Part of our goal is helping to equalize the playing field for women across their lifespan, and also normalize the physical changes women go through, including menopause.
WHAT CHALLENGES ARE YOU FACING?
Awareness. We’re still fairly early in our journey, just a couple of years in. Trying to get the word out is our biggest hurdle.
WHAT’S ONE THING YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR CAUSE AND/OR THE WORK YOU’RE DOING?
We can make a difference together. There’s a lot of opportunity to partner in this space. I think if you are passionate about it, reach out. If you have a business and you’re interested in offering what we offer, let’s talk. If you’re a consultant, and you’re interested in participating, let’s talk. I think there’s power in numbers, and I’ve met so many inspirational people who want to do good work. Building that community is critical, let’s connect.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE QUOTE OR WORDS OF INSPIRATION TO SHARE?
There was a brief TV series on Netflix called The Booth at the End. There was a phrase in that show that stuck with me: “Start. See what happens.” It’s simple.
HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
The cause is bigger than Leva. The cause is to support women and new moms and understand that they’re facing a lot of challenges. They need help and an ear. If you know women in your network who are pregnant or recently had a baby, reach out to them to make sure that they’re okay. Share what we’re doing. Follow us on Linkedin or at Levaapp.com. Help us spread the word.
At Orapin, we believe those who are working for the greater good should be known, supported, and celebrated. We help purpose-driven organizations transform their random acts of PR into a strategic, consistent approach that generates greater awareness and impact. If would like to be featured in INSPIRED IMPACT™, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.