One of the eight competitors at Rise of the Rest, taking place May 1 at ConnectWise, is Tampa startup The Natural Nipple.

When alternating between breastfeeding and bottle feeding, a baby can suffer an effect called “nipple confusion”. To avoid this effect and smooth the transition, a team of scientists and healthcare providers at The Natural Nipple developed a bottle nipple unique to a mother’s shape and flow.

During her nursing studies at the University of South Florida, Lauren Wright learned babies who weren't given breast milk were suffering from fatal complications. It was then she wanted to find a solution that would prolong the amount of time a baby would experience the skin-to-skin contact of breastfeeding by making the experience of transitioning from breast to bottle and back more seamless.

After interviewing hundreds of mothers and found nipple confusion to be the biggest hurdle to breastfeeding, the solution became obvious – Wright, a nurse practitioner, founded The Natural Nipple, where she is also chief executive officer.

Her sidekick is Tram Pham, a registered nurse and co-founder/chief operating officer. While rotating through the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit during Pham’s undergraduate studies at the University of South Florida, she observed the difficulties moms experience when trying to get their babies to latch on to the breast after feeding on a standard bottle nipple.

And, thus, the Natural Nipple was born.

Wright and Pham are both current Ph.D. candidates in their field. So, it’s no surprise that these two women have teamed up, with regarded scientists and designers, to boost the success rate of breast-to-bottle feeding.

The ultimate goals with this customizable product, created with BPA-free silicone, are to promote bonding, empower mothers to breastfeed and optimize wellness worldwide. Customers can pre-order a starter kit (estimated availability in September) or sign up for a two-year plan that supports the breastfeeding journey by giving you an updated nipple flow rate matching maternal lactation every two months.

According to study results revealed on The Natural Nipple only 10 percent of mothers who work fulltime are still breastfeeding after six months. Breastfeeding forms a bond between a mother and her child that bottle-feeding alone can’t provide. One of the most important benefits of breast milk is that it acts as a baby's first vaccine by establishing microbiome, neurological and immune development.

Additionally, a whopping 92% percent of mothers who introduce bottle feeding with the plan of returning to breastfeeding are often unable to do so.

Should the Natural Nipple impress upon the Rise of the Rest panel of judges as they have new mothers, the company will be awarded an investment of $100,000.

Rise of the Rest takes place Wednesday, May 1 at ConnectWise, 4805 Independence Parkway, Suite 101, Tampa. Doors open at 4 p.m. with networking with ROTR delegation and open bar. A 4:30-5:30 p.m. fireside chat, with AOL founder/ROTR CEO Steve Case and Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, proceeds the pitch competition from 5:30-7 p.m.

To read more about the Rise of the Rest and other business news happening in Tampa, register for free at 813area.