There was a problem with pregnancy tests. Here's how we're fixing it
Written by Jamie Norwood
August 26, 2019 • 7 minutes
What is Stix, Anyway?
Stix is a female-founded pregnancy test startup. We’re 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. We created Stix because 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.
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Who We Are
My name’s Jamie Norwood and I’m one of the Stix co-founders, along with Cynthia Plotch. In the past four years, Cynthia 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 5 to 50 employees. It was a wild ride!
Cynthia and I always knew we worked well together. She is absolutely amazing at all things marketing and growth, and I handle the operations and product 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! Cynthia ran into her boyfriend’s mom at a drugstore, pregnancy test in hand. She darted out of there as fast as she could and called me (in tears!) right away. After I consoled her for a bit and attempted to calm her down, we started talking about how terrible it is to buy a pregnancy test. Whether it’s in the drugstore, grocery store, or on Amazon, the experience was always so negative.
We quickly realized that buying a home pregnancy test could be, simply, better. We got to work and spent nights and weekends researching and talking to women. We decided to build what is now Stix, pregnancy tests delivered straight to your door. Moreover, a community and 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 slowly but surely built Stix on the side. After a few months of doing our full time jobs and Stix, we couldn’t do both any longer. We decided to jump in full time and worked out of our homes and coffee shops. A few months after that, we moved into a shared co-working space. Now, we’re in an accelerator program in NYC.
Who is Stix for?
Anyone who can get pregnant. The reality is, pregnancy tests aren’t just for women who want babies. While a lot of our customers are well on their way trying to conceive, a lot of customers test for peace of mind and hope to see a not pregnant result. We want all women to feel comfortable pregnancy testing. After all, the only result that matters is the accurate one. We take any chance we can get to chat with our customers, so if you have any feedback for us or want to hop on the phone and share your pregnancy testing experience, please drop us a note.
We designed the whole Stix experience with privacy and convenience in mind. Whether you’re totally comfortable strutting into a drugstore in your hometown or you’re 16 and can’t bear for your parents know you’re sexually active, Stix is for you.
What Building a Company is Like
The truth is, no two days working on Stix are the same. We waver between working on keeping the business going and strategizing on how we’ll grow and where we want to take Stix next. The daily tasks include things like answering customer emails, shipping out orders, building email newsletters, and communicating with our manufacturer.
One of my favorite parts about starting Stix from scratch is that we can move quickly. When we get customer feedback, we can implement it almost right away. 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 so 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! It’s so cool to see our business decisions making a difference in the real world.
We’re lucky to have amazing mentors, advisors, friends, and family who support Stix every day. We’re also so lucky to have each other! I trust Cynthia 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 with, that’s for sure. 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. If you’re thinking about starting a business, my main piece of advice would be to do it with (1) someone you trust wholeheartedly (2) someone you’ve worked well with in a professional setting before and (3) someone you consider a true friend. I’m so lucky that Cynthia and I get to be on this Stix pregnancy test journey together!
What Scares us About Stix
While we spend a lot of time talking about the amazing parts of building Stix, there are a lot of unknowns. We fill in the gaps when we can, but building a business is tricky stuff. It can feel lonely and isolating. We often feel overwhelmed. That’s also the exciting part, though -- more on that in a bit.
Starting a company is scary, straight up! No way around that. For me personally, the fear of letting our customers down is the scariest part. Every time we get a customer service email, I feel my heart sink a bit. They’re all in all so positive and delightful, but I do get scared that we’ll let a customer down by providing a bad pregnancy test experience. After all, we started Stix to make pregnancy tests easier for all women.
There are also other scary things. We’ve started to hire amazing people to join our team, and the responsibility of that is both exciting and new territory for us. We’re learning every single day, and we need constant reminders to evolve and improve as business owners and humans. I will say that the positive greatly outweighs the negative, and there’s no question about that. We have such an exciting opportunity to create an empowering experience for women with Stix pregnancy tests. I feel so lucky to be on this wild ride with Cynthia!
What Excites Us
SO. MUCH. EXCITEMENT. Too much? Cynthia and I constantly joke that we’re both Type A Plus. We love to strategize and plan and execute. Every time we get a note from a customer sharing a positive experience, we try to take a moment to soak it all in. We’re really improving lives, and that’s what keeps us going every day.
I could gush about our mission and how in love with pregnancy testing we are, but beyond that, there’s a lot about growing a business that excites us, too. Every challenge that comes our way presents an opportunity to dive in and create a solution. There’s no better feeling than realizing we’re stuck and getting ourselves un-stuck quickly. The bigger the problem, the more exciting the solution.
Another exciting thing about building Stix is the people we’ve met along the way. We’ve surrounded ourselves with this pack of crazy talented, wonderfully supportive humans. Developing relationships with new advisors, coworkers, customers, and friends throughout our time building Stix has truly been the icing on the cake.
What’s Coming Next for Stix
So much is coming around the corner! We want to create better experiences for women across all walks of life. We’re starting with accessible and empowering pregnancy tests, but follow along for exciting updates. We promise it will be a wild ride! It’s just the beginning.