Jessica Rolph, who co-founded an organic baby food company that sold for $230 million, has launched another company targeting the early childhood market, this time in Boise.
Rolph’s new company, Lovevery, will sell a multipurpose Play Gym toy designed to encourage learning at different stages in a child’s early development. The company’s founders consulted child development experts while designing the product, which is manufactured in Asia. The Play Gym will be sold for $140 on the company’s website and Amazon starting Nov. 1.
Rolph, a Minneapolis native who has an MBA from Cornell University, said she had already deeply researched baby nutrition when she co-founded Happy Family Brands in 2006. The company sold to Groupe Danone in 2013. A parent of three, Rolph was dissatisfied with the toys available on the market and began researching baby cognitive development so that she could make her own. One doctoral thesis on infant development piqued her interest.
“It had all these detailed, nerdy, cool things that I could do with my child that felt really natural and simple,” Rolph said. “I couldn’t help but pouring myself into it and it totally transformed my experience as a parent. I discovered the world through my child’s eyes and felt connected to my baby because I was giving him what he was hungry to learn.”
Gordon Jones, dean of the Boise State University College of Innovation and Design, said the Treasure Valley benefits every time a person who has been successful in business stays active as a mentor, investor or serial entrepreneur. Rolph is such a person, he said.
“That’s a critical component for a healthy startup ecosystem, and Jessica Rolph sits with an elite group in the Boise ecosystem as one who built and sold a large startup,” he said.
Rolph teamed up with Lovevery co-founder Roderick Morris, who has a track record of scaling startups and is married to Rolph’s high school best friend. Morris, who has an MBA from Stanford University, worked with several growing companies, most recently directing a software company called Opower to an initial public offering as its chief managing and chief operations officer.
Morris moved from Washington, D.C. to Boise to work on Lovevery. The company now has seven employees and works out of the Trailhead North offices in downtown Boise.
Morris said that the cofounders’ families have been close for years, including vacationing together. That connection and Rolph’s previous success led him to dedicate his time to Lovevery.
“Jessica is someone with a great track record that is rooted in a combination of product vision and serious hustle,” Morris said. “These qualities combined with the fact that she’s just a very kind, high-integrity person made me thrilled to work with her on this.”
Lovevery received an undisclosed investment from angel investors, both from the Boise area and elsewhere in the U.S. The co-founders declined to give details about how the company is funded.
Rolph and Morris kept quiet about the new venture until Lovevery was ready to launch its first product.
“We are paranoid entrepreneurs,” she said. “We are launching now because it is the soonest we could get our first product ready.”
Jones said that Rolph and Eileen Barber, who cofounded Keynetics, were among the most successful and visible women entrepreneurs in Boise.
“Other women can look to them and say, ‘hey, they could do it,’ and they can see a path forward,” Jones said.