How we secured partnerships with big brands as an unknown entity
The founders of Baby Bundle explain how they launched into the competitive parenting market by getting names such as Mumsnet on board
Name: Anthony von Christierson and Nick von Christierson
Company: Baby Bundle
Company description: Baby Bundle is a technology provider of parenting solutions, launching its newest platform into the UK in association with Mumsnet.
Started in: 2013
Describe your start-up barrier
With any start-up one of biggest challenges is generating trust when you are effectively an unknown, unproven entity. As two young guys without kids and no direct relevant experience, one of the main challenges we had was finding how to gain real credibility within the time-poor, information-heavy parenting market.
What steps did you take to gain credibility in the market?
Although a significant percentage of Google searches related to parenting are common regardless of geography, there is a consumer expectation that content will be tailored to a hyper local level; from language used to medical information provided.
There are some significant cultural differences impacting parenting approach too – what is relevant and the norm in the US won’t be the same in the UK or the Middle East. Add to that the fact that parents are continually bombarded with marketing messages; credibility is critical.
Part of our global strategy therefore was, and is, to secure partnerships with some of the most well-respected parenting brands from across the world.
We have been pretty successful so far. In the US, we partnered with renowned parenting expert and pediatrician, Dr Jennifer Trachtenberg. In the UK, we have partnered with parenting mega-brand Mumsnet and we are due to partner with a major retailer in the Middle East this year. One size certainly doesn’t fit all however and you need to tailor your approach depending on your territory and target!
For us, there were two key ‘rules’ we lived by with our partnership strategy:
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- Be clear on your value and what you bring to the table. As former investment banking analysts, we made sure we had done our research; from a review of the market opportunity to in-depth research with over 500 new mothers on what would make them click ‘download’ on the app. This insight makes for a strong business case with clear projections. That, coupled with a ready-to-go, beautifully designed, robust and scalable technology meant that, financially and logically, we were presenting a good business opportunity. Quite often, bigger brands can’t be as agile as small companies so tech developments can be time and resource intensive – offer them a good solution and they are often willing to have at least an initial conversation.
- Network like crazy and create brand advocates. The old adage “its not what you know but who you know” is super applicable when it comes to starting a new business. Don’t be afraid to use your network. We have found that, in the main, people are happy to make connections and recommend you if your product is good. You also need to understand the power of brand advocates; people who can represent you and be more places than you can physically be! One of our fantastic developers met someone from Mumsnet at a conference way back when and that initial connection turned into our launch partnership for the whole of the UK.
When we launched in the US, we very quickly became the number one parenting app in the app store and have raised $1.8m as a consequence of that early success. We launched quietly with Mumsnet at the beginning of November 2015 and in the first 24 hours had well over 1,000 downloads with very little marketing.
Mumsnet will be promoting the app to their huge audience as part of their own ‘family of apps’, which will provide a solid foundation of constant new users.
What three key questions should other entrepreneurs ask themselves when thinking about a partnership strategy?
- Do we have credibility to do this alone or do we need to ‘borrow’ credibility and a ready-made audience from a partner to ensure success?
- Who do we know in our extended network that can make the right connections?
- What do we bring to the table?
What one piece of advice do you think start-up entrepreneurs should take on board?
Doggedly pursue credibility – it will affect your ability to raise money, secure partnerships and ultimately drive revenues.
Is there anything you would do differently?
We are relatively early-stage when it comes to our partnerships so I am sure we will learn and develop as time goes on. As we roll out across the globe, each partnership will no doubt be better, stronger, easier and mutually more beneficially.