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Breast pump start-up Naya Health shuts down after failing to raise money

Key Points
  • Naya Health once claimed to have a "revolutionary" breast pump, which retailed for $1,000.
  • It stopped responding to complaints from its customers months ago, while the founders attempted to find further investment or a home for the technology.
Naya Health's Smart Pump
Mark Lennihan | AP

Naya Health, the maker of a $1,000 breast pump that was supposed to be "revolutionary," has shut its doors after the company was unable to find an investor or buyer.

The start-up emailed its users on Wednesday about the decision and took down its website. The email was forwarded to CNBC.

"We are sorry to have stayed silent for so long," wrote Janica and Jeff Alvarez, the company's founders, who are also married. "We have been working to find a way behind the scenes to either raise enough capital to face the increase in manufacturing costs or find the company a new home."

Women's health companies have struggled to raise funding of late and have also faced challenges with their supply chains. Naya had specific technical issues with its products, and users were disappointed with lackluster responses from customer service. 

Several women previously told CNBC that their pumps arrived with missing parts, and others said their device stopped working after a few weeks. Many turned to online forums and social media to complain after they didn't hear back from the company.

Naya, which had raised about $5 million, was "unable to take it to the level we had aimed for, and our customer's deserved," the email said. The company apologized for its lack of responsiveness and said that users who have requested refunds but not received them should contact their bank or credit card provider.

Alvarez told CNBC in 2017 that she was living off minimum wage to get the company off the ground and had booked more than $1 million in sales. She described her mission as creating a more comfortable pump for women after breastfeeding her own children.

"I am still proud of what this company has achieved and the public conversation it has sparked about the need for companies to develop and improve upon the technology and tools available to help women live better and healthier lives,' the email said. "My hope is that others can build on this progress."

Here's the full email:

To our customers,

It is with a heavy heart that I share that Naya Health, Inc. will be shutting down today.

We are sorry to have stayed silent for so long. We have been working behind the scenes to either find a way to raise enough capital to face the increase in manufacturing costs or find the company a new home where our technology could benefit from more resources. During this process, we were unable to share Naya's status publically for legal reasons. Ultimately, it has become clear that the only course of action for Naya Health is to close its doors.

The mission of Naya Health was to evolve technology for women because we believe they women deserve better. Like many startups creating first generation hardware products from scratch, we worked hard to get it right. However, with limited resources, were unable to take it to the level we had aimed for, and our customers deserved.

While the decision to shut down was tough, we knew we could no longer serve our customers in the way they deserve. Many of you whose orders we were unable to fulfill have been refunded. If you have not received an order and are waiting for your refund, we advise that you contact your bank or credit card company and request one.

I am still proud of what this company has achieved and the public conversation it has sparked about the need for companies to develop and improve upon the technology and tools available to help women live better healthier lives. My hope is that others can build on this progress.

I want to thank our investors, advisors, family, and friends for supporting Naya Health's mission over the past few years. But most of all I want to thank our customers for taking a bet on us, telling your friends and family about us, and supporting us to the end. We would not have achieved what we did without you.

Sincerely,

Janica, Jeff and the Naya Health Family