MedCity Doulas

Strong Women Creating Value 2019: Amanda Steele and Brittany Baker, Owners of MedCity Doulas

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Rochester entrepreneurs Amanda Steele and Brittany Baker are breaking down barriers and working together to serve families and other “bad ass” women in the community. In 2016, the pair founded MedCity Doulas to offer support to women from pregnancy through postpartum.

These strong women are here to prove that being a doula- a trained professional that offers physical, emotional, and informational support to mothers- is a sustainable career option for themselves and for others seeking to help women with these highly specialized services. The pair specifically works to build “bridges between patients and medical staff for a more positive experience on the patient’s end,” Baker explained.

These entrepreneurs were driven to create MedCity Doulas in response to a general lack of support, especially postpartum, for mothers in the community. 

Baker’s personal postpartum experience was extremely positive- she was hired late in her pregnancy by her employers and was encouraged to bring her newborn to work- although she quickly learned this was not the norm. Steele saw many families having negative and traumatizing experiences as new parents. She became passionate about supporting parents during that time frame and molding new parenthood into a positive experience. 

While fueled by passion to bring MedCity Doulas to life, these innovators faced significant challenges to get the business running. The first obstacle was basic education about the role of doulas and convincing people it was a professional service that deserved a cash exchange.

“We are women selling traditional women’s work as a professional service. So, wrapping people’s heads around that idea, that we are here to mother mothers and that has a dollar value, has been a hard concept for some people,” Baker explained.

Steele said the pair was not taken seriously when they first started out. Although both women are highly educated- Steele is finishing up her master’s degree and Baker has a degree in design plus management experience- the doula field is not always taken seriously. They faced particular roadblocks when seeking financial assistance for the business.

“We didn’t give up. We went to four different banks before somebody believed in what we were doing,” Steele explained.

With the three-year anniversary of MedCity Doulas fast approaching, these women are looking forward to continued growth of the business in the community to support families.  

“It’s exciting that we have a women-owned business in 2019 in Rochester, Minnesota in an industry that is related to healthcare,” Baker said. “We are really lucky to be operating here specifically.”

While MedCity Doulas has certainly blossomed over the past years, these entrepreneurs have also witnessed much change in the female entrepreneurial community in Rochester, especially with increased events and resources for women in business.

“I’m really hopeful for all the things I’ve seen so far in the community and all the things that are being built,” Steele explained. “But it’s also hard because now that we have more things we’re pulled in more directions.”

She said in particular we still need more balance to integrate moms into these events and activities, especially those individuals without childcare options.

Strong Women Creating Value Season 1 Episode 3: Amanda Steele and Brittany Baker

In the third part of our "Strong Women Creating Value" series we chat with Rochester entrepreneurs Amanda Steele and Brittany Baker, owners of MedCity Doulas. MedCity Doulas is a Rochester-based doula agency providing emotional, physical, and educational support through pregnancy, brith, and postpartum.

"We're women offering women-based care and sometimes that's not looked upon as a profession." -Amanda Steele

Press Release: MedCity Doulas Team Growing

MedCity Doulas has scaled their team to five independently contracted doulas. Since their inception in July 2017, owners Amanda Steele and Brittany Baker have been striving to educate the market on the benefits of doulas providing unbiased support for all families. With this recent growth, MedCity Doulas has expanded their services and increased their availability. One step closer to seeing a doula in every birth room!

Rochester's Female Entrepreneurs Start Something at Women's Demo Night

Rochester Rising’s first event, Women’s Demo Night, was meant to demonstrate the emergence of entrepreneurs in Rochester and highlight the strong female leadership the city can look towards. Demo nights are usually tech-centric events, where entrepreneurs walk through how their product works to provide an innovative solution. While the four female entrepreneurs who spoke at Women’s Demo Night may not have all been fully in the tech field, they completely represented the diversity and range of Rochester’s innovation community right now. This is another step forward in sharing the stories of the people taking risks in Rochester and demonstrating that people are stepping forward and starting things in this city. These are the stories we feel need to be told.


Shruthi Naik, Founder and VP, Comparative Oncology at Vyriad


Vyriad is an expanding biopharmaceutical company in Rochester that’s utilizing technology developed in the Mayo Clinic’s Department of Molecular Medicine to treat cancer. Vyriad’s oncolytic viral therapies are delivered through Vesicular Stomatitis Virus and measles oncolytic platforms. Patients receive the treatments intravenously, allowing the virus to selectively infect and amplify within tumor cells. Infected tumor cells are eventually killed by the virus and the resultant tumor fragments cleaned up by the immune system to eradicate the cancer. Vyriad partnered with Mayo Clinic for preclinical studies of their therapies. The company’s products are currently at the clinical stage. Vyriad has several clinical trials running or soon to launch treating patients with a variety of cancers including: solid tumors, multiple myeloma, T cell lymphoma, and lung and bladder cancers. Many of these trials will be run at Mayo Clinic. One patient, Stacy Erholtz, has been particularly vocal about her treatment experience with Vyriad therapeutics. Erholtz battled multiple myeloma for ten years, received two bone marrow transplants, and failed every available therapy. She participated in a clinical trial as a last resort, receiving a single high dose of the Vyriad measles platform. Erholtz went into remission following treatment and has been cancer free for three years.


Brittany Baker and Amanda Steele, Owners of MedCity Doulas


Doulas offer physical, emotional, and educational support for women during pregnancy, birth, and post-partum. Doulas are distinct from midwives and receive no medical school training. Instead, they can work to make the birth process a positive experience through things like holding the mother’s hand and offering words of encouragement. Post-partum doulas can aid mothers anywhere from six weeks to two years after birth. These doulas provide education, especially for first time mothers, and work to complement the support and parenting style already in place. Post-partum doulas may also make meals, grocery shop, do laundry, and provide any other help a new mom needs. Baker and Steele founded MedCity Doulas in July 2016 as a doula agency to help decrease the doula burnout rate- which is two years outside of the agency model- and elevate other women in the profession. Steele has been a doula for six years and has a Health Education background. Baker has a background in design and learned about doulas during her second pregnancy, where Steele was her doula. MedCity Doulas is currently in the building and education phase. Only 5% of mothers currently receive doula care. Baker and Steele hope to increase that number to 40% over the next five years. Now, they’re tasked with educating their market and explaining how all mothers could benefit from a doula.


Alaa Koleilat, Founder of GoAudio

Twenty percent of Americans report some degree of hearing loss. However, they are often unaware of the full degree of hearing reduction due to low screening rates in the United States. Hearing tests are performed in elementary school children, but hearing threshold levels in adults are not examined until noticeable loss occurs. Once hearing is damaged it cannot be regained, making hearing loss prevention pivotal. Mayo Graduate student Alaa Koleilat and her team of Mayo Clinic specialists hope to solve this problem with GoAudio. Koleilat’s graduate research centers on genetic hearing loss; she looks to take her passion to patients with GoAudio. GoAudio uses iPad technology and noise cancelling headphones to provide portable, accessible hearing screening. The GoAudio app examines hearing threshold levels in users, asking them to press down and hold a button until a certain tone can no longer be head. The higher the threshold level recorded, the more challenging it is for the patient to hear that tone. The GoAudio team aims to have their screening tool implemented as part of an annual physical exam. The product is still in the early developmental stages, with the major focus on functionality. GoAudio hopes to soon launch a pilot study at Mayo Clinic comparing results from the app to hearing tests administered by audiologists. Koleilat says there are numerous applications for this product, perhaps even a suite of medical screening tools.


Tessa Leung, CEO of Grand Rounds Brewing Company

Grand Rounds CEO and Stewartville native Tessa Leung has been an entrepreneur in Rochester for a long time. Leung has a BSN/RN degree and worked as a nurse for several years at Mayo Clinic. However, she always dreamed of being a chef. After six years in medicine, Leung attended the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts and studied to become a level two sommelier. In 2006, she opened a restaurant called Sontes in downtown Rochester and runs a wine shop, called Tessa’s Office. When Sontes closed its doors, the 150-year-old space was revamped and reopened as Grand Rounds Brewing Company on April 15, 2015. Most readers have (hopefully) tasted some locally brewed craft beer. But how much do you know about the brewing process? As Leung explained, beer is an alcoholic beverage that’s made from malted cereal grain- called barley- gets flavored by hops, and is brewed by slow fermentation with yeast. There are two types of beers: ales and lagers. Grand Rounds primarily brews ales, using a warm fermentation system and top fermenting yeast. Several key ingredients go into making beer, including: water, roasted barley, hops, and of course yeast. Water is highly regional and can really make or break a product. Rochester’s water has some of the highest mineral content in the US, which Leung said can be problematic to brew certain styles of beer. Hops, which Leung says are getting increasingly more difficult to source, provide flavor, bitterness, and smells to the beer. The Grand Rounds brewing process begins bright and early, at 6AM, and includes equipment like a boil kettle, wort chiller, and mash tun. Grand Round’s fermentation chiller, the place where the yeast is added, is actually a white wine fermenter. Leung explained that the normal conical beer fermenters would not fit with the shape of the building, so they had to get creative “because that’s what entrepreneurs do.” The ingredients are crushed, boiled, separated, extracted, pumped, fermented, and carbonated to get to the final product. Leung recommends consuming craft beer within four to six weeks after carbonation for the freshest taste.

Thanks to the Women's Demo Night Sponsors:

Rochester Rising Unveils Lineup for Women-Focused Entrepreneurial Event

Rochester Rising is pleased to bring Rochester’s very first Women’s Demo Night to the city. The event will take place Wednesday March 22nd from 6-8PM at the Rochester Area Foundation. We have handpicked four Rochester-based startups and businesses to speak at the event including: Shruthi Naik of Vyriad, Alaa Kolelait of GoAudio, Brittany Baker and Amanda Steele of MedCity Doulas, and Tessa Leung of Grand Rounds Brewing Company.


What is a demo night?

A demo night is the perfect way to explore and visualize a piece of the entrepreneurial community of Rochester. There are no awards; there are no prizes. The night is more a celebration of community and a way to see, firsthand, innovative products, services, and solutions that were developed right in Rochester.

During the event, these female entrepreneurs will tell their unique stories and walk through how their product, or service, works for the audience. There will then be a few minutes for some questions, but the gathered startup and business enthusiasts will have more time to interact with these innovators at their individual tables after the presentations.


6:00 PM: Doors open.

6:15 PM: Opening remarks.

6:30 PM: Demos.

7:30 PM: Networking.

8:00 PM: Doors close.

Who are the speakers?

Shruthi Naik is a trained Virologist who obtained her PhD at Mayo Graduate School. She is currently the Vice President of Comparative Oncology at Vyriad. Vyriad is a biomedical startup developing oncolytic viral therapies to treat cancer. Their products are currently in several Phase I and Phase II clinical trials.

Alaa Koleilat is currently a PhD candidate in the Mayo Graduate School in Clinical and Translational Sciences and cofounder of GoAudio. GoAudio is a mobile application that makes hearing testing more accessible. With this app, users can test and examine their hearing thresholds anywhere. All you need are noise cancelling headphones.  

Brittany Baker is trained in Postpartum doula and Birth doula and studied Design Technology at Bemidji State. Amanda Steele is a trained Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Birth Doula (DONA), and Child Passenger Safety Technician. She received a bachelor’s degree in Applied Science from the University of Minnesota Duluth. MedCity Doulas is Rochester's premier doula agency, providing childbirth education, birth and postpartum planning, and babywearing consultation.

Tessa Leung is a longtime entrepreneurial resident of Rochester. She is currently the Chief Operations Manager at Grand Rounds Brewing Company. She also runs Tessa’s Wine Boutique, Sontes Catering, and The Vault coworking space. Grand Rounds was Rochester’s very first brewpub, where friends can meet to solve the world's problems, one brew at a time. 

Who Should Attend?

Women’s Demo Night features female entrepreneurs, but it is a night for anyone interested in learning more about and become more involved in Rochester’s entrepreneurial community.


Where do I find tickets?

Click here to go to the Eventbrite page. Online ticket sales end Tuesday March 21st at 1AM. Tickets will then be available at the door. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the event.


What do I get out of the ticket cost?

There will be lots of appetizer-style food, excellent company, and even better conversation.


My business would love to become more involved in something like this

We’re glad to hear that. We have space for a few more sponsors to make this event even better. Sponsors are listed in the event promotional flier, have ad space on an online event ad on Rochester Rising, will be listed as sponsors at the event, can bring promotional materials to the event, receive a Friday social media shout out on Rochester Rising, and get ad space in one weekly Rochester Rising newsletter. Please fill out the contact form below, and we will get back with you shortly.

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