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Meet Dara Chike-Obi of Griö

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dara Chike-Obi.

Hi Dara, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
We’re two moms who believe that feedings can be less stressful and about more than milk. We were inspired by our own journeys to revolutionize the feeding routine for both baby and caretaker.

It all started four years ago. I was a full-time attorney working towards an MBA with a two months old baby. The birth of our son was the most pivotal moment of my life; but also the most stressful and overwhelming. My son was a beautiful feeder who easily switched from breast to bottle and back again without issue. This allowed me to continue my breastfeeding journey AND for my supportive care team to use a bottle when I wasn’t there. Our son’s flexibility did not make the feeding journey any easier. From the pumping, the bottle prep, to the non-stop feedings I found this experience to be all-consuming. I turned to the market and found a lack of products that not only served our babies but acted as PARENTING TOOLS to help caretakers maintain their busy lifestyles while enhancing the maternal bond.

This is why my co-founder and I created the FIRST AND ONLY DEVELOPMENTAL BABY BOTTLE SYSTEM that allows caretakers to actively enhance their child’s development while deepening emotional connections. We aim to bridge the gap between physical health and comprehensive growth during the all-encompassing feeding routine.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
The road to entrepreneurship is never smooth. My cofounder is a professor and brilliant chemical engineer. We immediately wanted to apply her expertise and background by designing a bottle with hi-tech biomedical applications. However, EXTENSIVE market research and consumer interviews led to the realization that such a product would not fit with our audience. We spent the next year on ideation and really listening to the needs of and identifying our consumers’ pain points before sketching the first version of our bottle. This was our first lesson in entrepreneurship. A business isn’t built on one great idea, but by having the flexibility to listen and pivot when necessary.

Over the next two years, we have been working nonstop to bring our vision of an enhanced feeding routine to life! Since starting, we have gathered ~$290K from a mixture of grants, angels, and start-up competitions. We’re lucky enough to have received guidance from industry experts and successful founders. However, funding is always a race you’ll never be able to outrun. Our biggest obstacle is the ability to quickly iterate based on customer feedback. Because we’re producing a physical product, we have to manufacture in batches to get feedback.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
I am the CEO and co-founder of Griö and I’m most proud of how far we’ve come with this little idea and how well it’s being received by new parents. From the very beginning, we worked with caretakers, medical professionals and developmental specialists to modernize the “one-size-fits-all” baby bottle with therapies found in the NICU and in clinical practices. Our solution truly feels like a community effort and the resulting product is its collaborative labor of love.

Brand-wise, I’m most proud of our commitment to modern parenting. My mother passed away when I was young leaving me to be raised by my father and four crazy brothers. I didn’t have a maternal figure but I grew up in an abundance of love and support that rivals any traditional family unit. Our systems are designed to allow others assist in the early feeding routine because we know there are so many types of family makeups. SIngle moms, gay fathers, grandparents, etc…this product is for you.

I’m also incredibly proud of our product design and its basis in Epigenetics. My business partner, Lydia, is a leading researcher in this field of study. Her life’s work is dedicated to understanding how external inputs impact biology. ⁠

So where does Griö come in? Epigenetics – the idea that genetic programming is heavily impacted by the environment- is the main driving aspect of our design. We aim to transform the feeding journey by making each feed an opportunity to enrich the brain inputs provided to children for the best early development. That’s why each bottle comes with a sensory enhancing base that promotes language development, gross motor skills, brain growth and emotional bonds with increased interaction.

Can you tell us more about what you were like growing up?
I am the youngest and only girl out of five kids. I very much believe in birth order and the role it plays in shaping personalities. My brothers were my best friends and protectors. However, they did not coddle me and if I wanted to hang with them, I better “keep up”. Till this day, I have a hard time feeling “left behind” which is completely different from feeling “left out”. For ten years, I was an oil and gas attorney with 0 sales or marketing experience. The majority of my career was spent as a supporting character in multi-national companies and for others who seemed closer to the decision-making than I was. I spent the better time of my career in Houston which was more conservative than Austin. It wasn’t until I moved that I became more familiar with the tech scene and entrepreneurship. Terms like Salesforce and digital marketing were thrown around and I soon began to feel the world was passing me by as I stayed in my corner of the oil and gas industry. I knew I had to break away from this highly specialized position and going to business school was the only way I saw how. This was almost six years ago so clearly I was right! I’m extremely inquisitive and have a need to constantly evolve and get better….whatever that means. Interest wise I love to travel, read (when I have the time), and simply be with my immediate and extended family who continue to be my best friends, confidantes and biggest supporters.

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