When she was 17, Mexican-born Adriana Vazquez Ortiz traveled from Mexico City to Philadelphia to join Penn’s Summer Academy for Applied Science and Technology. She spent a month working with cool stuff like robotics.
“I thought it was padrísimo,” Vásquez says.
Though following the program, she went to MIT to get her bachelor’s in computer science, come 2014 her familiarity with Philly — along with Penn’s strong postgraduate offering — lured Vazquez back to town and she enrolled in Penn’s Master’s Program in integrated product design, where she laid the foundation for hardware company Lilu.
“Philly was not such a strange place for me,” Vazquez told Technical.ly in an interview conducted in her native language: Spanish.
Alongside cofounders Alexandra Looney and Sujay Suresh, the 27-year-old entrepreneur worked on the company — which aims to offer a line of breast-pumping accessories to help mothers produce more milk — as part of her study program. We featured Vazquez on our list of immigrant founders who are building their company in Philadelphia.
The company went on to rake up support from some serious organizations:
- Elite San Francisco accelerator Y Combinator gave the team a remote spot in their fellowship program, which offers guidance and mentorship to young startups for three months.
- The National Science Foundation provided the team with a coveted $50,000 grant to develop their technology.
- The company was among Dreamit Health’s Fall 2016 companies, being one of the two companies in the cohort staying in Philly for the program.
- The Penn Wharton Innovation Fund kicked in $10,000 to back the design process.
- The team took home $50,000 at Penn’s iDesign competition.
(See? This is why Lilu made it to our 2017 realLIST, which aimed to curate a roster of the most exciting startups in town.)
Vazquez said the company, currently based out of University City’s IC@3401, is currently working on its beta prototypes, and is aiming to release the product by end of the year. Vazquez said the need for products like the ones on Lilu’s pipeline is what pushes the team forward.
“There’s a need for an ecosystem that supports women who want to breastfeed,” Vásquez said. “For many years we haven’t been innovating in products that help women breastfeed and this is why we’re developing this technology.”-30-
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