This is a follow up story for Bundleboon. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published about 1 year ago, check it out here.
Hi! My name is Nelli and I am the founder of Bundleboon, a data-driven curated shopping service specializing in kidswear.
Our service is quite simple to use. All you need to do is to answer a few questions on our platform regarding your kid’s size, style, gender, budget, and preferences. We will use the data and curate 2-3 outfits, uniquely styled for your child, and ship them straight to your doorstep. Use your living room as a runway for 5 days and only pay for the items that you love. Send the rest back free of charge.
Our customers are mostly moms between 31-40 years old with a mid to high income. We are currently only active in The Netherlands and Belgium.
I started Bundleboon as a side hustle and due to the big demand, I quit my day-job in 2018, got my cofounder, Monique on board, and went all-in with Bundleboon. Our team consists of 7 incredible women (yes! Bundleboon is an all-female team) and funny enough, our stylish office is in the red light district in Amsterdam.
We are currently generating 35.000 USD only in two markets and expect to increase the monthly revenue by 45% before Q4 2020.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
It has been a crazy ride! Not only did we turn two years old but we also grew a lot! We closed a bigger investment from a well-known fashion group in The Netherlands and were on the Dutch version of Shark Tank, which aired on April 26th, 2020. The show enabled us to get more traction and due to the amount of investment we were offered via the show, we were also highlighted in some of the major Dutch media outlets.
Influencer marketing and ambassador program
Our growth was the result of putting the majority of the focus on acquiring new customers by using influencer marketing and by using our existing bundlebooners as our ambassadors. Our retention rate and customer loyalty continue to grow month over month. Due to the growing retention rate, we are testing new ways to offer our customers a unique service with the selection of items according to their preferences.
Our stylists are the core of our business, but they are also very expensive. We had 4 stylists on the payroll and we quickly realized that it is not scalable and would have to invest a lot of money into hiring new stylists. We have now changed the setup and are only hiring freelance stylists. We pay them with a commission of their box output and revenue.
Last year, we won a free TV commercial that aired on 25 different Dutch TV channels. The TV commercial helped us get a lot of great exposure and new customers. It was such a cool feeling seeing Bundleboon on various channels and our customers posting about it on social media.
It is crazy to look back at where we started two years ago and where we are now. No matter where we are in two years from now, I can honestly say that all of the ups and downs were totally worth it.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
The biggest lesson that we learned was to grow the business by making smart decisions. We were in such a big hurry to grow fast that we completely lost sight of things. Our cashflow was hurt by it and so were we as a team. We had to make some tough decisions in order to cut costs to save the company.
Step back and reflect on what went wrong and look for ways to improve.
We got our shareholders together and made short and long-term plans on how to move forward. We postponed our market expansions with 12 months and decided to launch extra revenue streams in order to help us hit break-even in a timely manner.
With the recent developments in the world, we had to step back a bit and come up with a plan to survive the recent events related to COVID-19. When the news broke that the Dutch government was urging everyone to do a national lock-down, we stopped breathing for a minute. My co-founder and I had to re-evaluate the future of the company and realize that we are facing some tough couple of months. We came up with a short-term plan and started pushing free online content that could influence our followers to continue to use our service.
With the help of our community of bundlebooners, the month of March broke all records for us. It was the best month to date! Not only did we ship more boxes than projected, but the kept rate increased with 35% compared to the previous month. The demand for our boxes and the many unboxing videos shared by our customers really made our year. The incredible support and great feedback from our customers made us more motivated to keep going.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
We have a few amazing projects coming up, which we are VERY excited about!
Although we decided to postpone the planned market expansion, we are still very excited to make it happen! We will start the R&D during the next quarter and plan to launch in Denmark before the end of 2021
Right now our margins are dependent on the deals we have with our portfolio of brands. During the last two years, we have gathered enough data to know the style and type of items that sell the best. We have therefore planned to launch our very first private label in The Netherlands and Belgium. The private label will increase our profit margin but also add an extra value to our service and the selection offered to our customers. Our private label will launch in Q3 of 2021.
Based on the constant customer feedback and research, we saw a big demand for a rental service. Parents are looking for ways to get affordable and stylish outfits with a sustainable approach.
We will start testing the rental service at the beginning of 2021 and it will be offered as a subscription service. Our customers can choose to pay a monthly fee for every month they wish to keep the outfits, we styled for their kids. The rental service will not replace our current concept but will be offered as an add-on to our service.
By the end of 2020, we will launch our pre-packed baby and gift boxes. The boxes will contain some essentials for newborns and various styles of gift boxes for older kids - perfect for any occasion or holiday.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
- Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel
- The Startup Owner's Manual: The Step-by-Step Guide for Building a Great Company by Steve Blank
- Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou
- Best if You're Hurting for Cashflow: The Power of Broke by Daymond John
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Step back and reflect on what went wrong and look for ways to improve. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Get yourself a group of mentors and advisors. Get them all around the same table and be honest about your struggles and ask them for advice on how to proceed. If it means that you have to grow slower the first year, then so be it. Make sure that your cash flow gets back on track before making any big launches, expansions, or hiring new employees.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We are currently looking for Dutch speaking stylists and customer service agents.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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