Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
I founded Bibado in 2015, and we are now on a mission to feed the curiosity of all children, by giving parents the right mealtime tools to do so. With these tools, Bibado makes family mealtimes fun, stress-free, and a learning adventure that children and grown-ups can share and enjoy together.
Our first product was invented as a result of my frustration feeding my twin daughters - Eve and Bea. I simply couldn’t find anything that would keep them clean through a meal and was fed up with washing their clothes after every meal, so I cut up an old umbrella in my kitchen and sewed some straps to it! It’s hard to believe that it’s now a multi-award-winning product that is loved by 1 in 7 parents of babies at weaning age in the UK and many more around the world.
Over the last 5 years, we have gone from a kitchen table start-up to a global brand distributing products in over 25 countries with global sales of over 500,000 bibs.
With a great team of like-minded curious individuals, Bibado’s latest product the Dippit has been a shortlisted finalist at the Innovation Awards by the UK Baby Products Association. We will be displayed our winning invention at the Annual Trade Show in Harrogate in October 2021. At this event, Bibado also launched to wider UK and international retail at the same time.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
Rachel, a former dentist, founded Bibado in 2016 as a frustrated Mum wanting to make a difference to mealtimes, following her own stressful experience whilst weaning her twin daughters.
Surround yourself with cheerleaders and people that bring out the best in you. You cannot do this alone and ask for help is not a sign of weakness but a sign that you are willing to learn and make the best decisions you possibly can.
Rachel solved the problem of mealtime mess, creating the award-winning Bibado Coverall, by cutting up an old umbrella at her kitchen table. This gave her more time to enjoy teaching her daughters to eat and enjoy food, by making cleaning up quick and easy.
The business has grown rapidly, from a tabletop business to an international brand stocked in over 25 countries. This is due to the positive support of parents, who embrace the ethos of our company, love curiosity.
Parents love encouraging babies to be curious at mealtimes although aware of messy consequences. The coverall takes away that downside, giving babies the freedom to explore. Parents have embraced this.
The brand is now expanding its range, from our handi-cutlery with its unique no-drop straps, to the Dippit pre-spoon and teether in one, designed to help babies navigate the first stage of using a spoon. It is a shortlisted finalist at the BPA (Baby Products Association) Innovation Awards displayed at this year’s Harrogate International's Baby Fair.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
The prototype worked so well with Rachel’s twin daughters she knew it was something that would benefit others.
However, never having been in a manufacturing business before there was a lot to learn. Finding a product design partner and manufacturing partner was tricky in the early days, as even finding the right place to look for help was a challenge.
The first run was created in the U.K. and failed safety testing, as there was plenty we still did not understand about safety regulations in the baby industry. We also had issues with the fabric, its durability, and the quality feel.
We rectified this and with some help, we found a fantastic manufacturing partner in China, and the new improved Bibado coverall was born. This too needed further development which was made over the next two years. We worked to create the perfect fabric for our flagship product. We believe now that we have it right and our customers agree.
Describe the process of launching the business.
We are entirely self-funded and for that reason, we decided on a soft launch focused on a direct-to-customer approach. We knew there was demand due to feedback from parents in our target market.
Facebook proved very very effective for us getting the message out there as the baby-led weaning community is very supportive of each other and is keen to share tips. Baby-led weaning also happens to be very messy so our coverall made a huge difference to this community and they were keen to share the benefits of our coverall with others.
In turn, this allowed us to expand our marketing and start to grow our engaged customer base in the U.K.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Since launching, we have been working hard to diversify our marketing (along with other areas of our business) as much as possible, so that we’re not over-reliant on a single platform.
This is challenging in today’s digital marketplace with it being so dominated by a couple of big players. Facebook and Instagram are still our most effective route for reaching new customers, as it allows us to show video/photo of our core product, the benefits of which may not be completely obvious via a text-only ad.
Google is our second biggest ad platform in terms of revenue generated; we have found that it’s really important to combine SEO with effective PPC across multiple platforms as they seem to contribute heavily to each other’s success.
There is always an opportunity to learn, develop and grow, sometimes the hardest thing about being an inventor or Founder is finding those trusted people who can give you good advice that help you along the way.
Micro-influencers have also been a key part of our growth. We work with a wide range and found that the most effective content is produced by genuine fans of our products as they have a genuine love for the brand. We see them as an extension of our company and have close relationships with them.
In the baby products space, in particular, recommendations and referrals are a highly effective way to spread the word (parents love helping and supporting other parents).
We love to offer rewards to our loyal customers especially when they recommend us to others. We have tried multiple customer referral apps at the moment we are using Loyalty Lion which we find has an easy user interface.
Amazon has been an important channel for us, particularly in North America, where its convenience and reliable logistics are valued so much by our North American customers. In the UK we have managed to keep the majority of our online sales through our website, but in the USA the majority is currently through Amazon - this is something we are working on at the moment.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Our team has recently expanded to 11, they are dynamic, hard-working, and passionate about Bibado. We share the company objective of promoting a love of curiosity and learning at mealtimes, as well as supporting a remote workforce. We run our warehouse in West Wales which is managed by a fantastic team who optimize every aspect of their operations. This has been key in maintaining margins to allow the rapid growth we’ve seen.
We are currently expanding our product line by creating developmentally appropriate weaning products for babies. Sparking curiosity through play is the best way for babies to learn and mealtimes are no exception. The success of Bibado coverall has allowed us to expand our global footprint rapidly, and provide positive children and parents across the world.
We are entirely self-funded and ideally would remain that way. However, with the issues with the global manufacturing and logistics systems, alongside rapid product line expansion and increased marketing costs, we keep this under constant review.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
We have faced plenty of challenges over the last four years!
We are incredibly fortunate to have a loyal and dedicated customer base. They love giving us feedback which helps us improve the products and their experience of the brand. We have also set up a focus group of customers with who we test ideas and products on a regular basis.
Over the last 18 months, Covid and the global logistics problems have put us to the test! It also means we need to plan a lot, to manage stock and demand which even though it is increasing is hard to predict exact levels 9 months into the future.
One of the major pieces of advice would be to listen to partners or team members with more experience than yourself. There is always an opportunity to learn, develop and grow, sometimes the hardest thing about being an inventor or Founder is finding those trusted people who can give you good advice that help you along the way. However, in our experience people want to see you succeed and will offer any help they can to set you on the right path.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
I’m a big fan of Shopify for its ease of use and the vast array of tools / plug-ins available. Optimonk, LoyaltyLion and Okendo are a few of my current favourites, alongside Lifetimely for LTV analytics. We use Klaviyo for email marketing, Grinfor influencer management and Teamwork for project management. Adding Live Chatto our site was a significant investment but one that has proved to be very much worthwhile.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I love Diary of a CEO with Stephen Bartlett, he has great guests. I have also spent a lot of time listening to an e-commerce master plan podcast with Chloe Thomas. Again she has a great breadth of guests as we always learn something from her especially in the rapidly evolving e-commerce market.
Finally, I have signed up to MasterClass, the online learning platform. It has a great series and my favorite must be the Sara Blakey series who I am in absolute awe of. She is an incredible woman, who is humble and willing to share her advice and wisdom with other female entrepreneurs.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
I think the biggest piece of advice I would give anyone is just to be brave enough to start on this road. You will be surprised how many people are not able to do that for many reasons. You will make plenty of wrong decisions ( to learn from) but you will also make plenty of right ones and those will guide you towards success.
Surround yourself with cheerleaders and people that bring out the best in you. You cannot do this alone and ask for help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign that you are willing to learn and make the best decisions you possibly can.
The other thing I would say is to make sure you keep making the best decisions you can. That sounds obvious, but it is easy to get knocked off course or forget why you are doing this. I often say to the team, the success of the business is down to the whole team making the best possible decisions they can daily. The cumulative effect of good decisions will mean we have a successful business.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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