[ From left to right: Christine Gutierrez, VP of operations; Jessica Kim, CEO and founder; Jenny Vyas, e-commerce manager. ]
Editor's Note: See all our Excelerate Labs coverage here.
WHAT: A monthly box, curated around a certain theme, with physical materials and other content to help parents engage with their 3-to-6-year-old kids. The box contains four types of items: projects kids do with their hands, activities, books and stories, and approved apps/downloads.
BabbaCo will eventually offer boxes for other age ranges. Subscription is $29.99 a month or $299 a year; each box has a retail value of $40 to $50.
LAUNCHERS: Jessica Kim, CEO. Christine Gutierrez, VP of operations.
WHEN/WHERE: September 2008 / Chicago. Beta BabbaBox Aug. 15, 2011.
WHY: Parents don't always have the time or energy to determine which activities and projects are appropriate for their child, and then track down the materials needed. Parents want engaging and intellectually stimulating activities for their kids. The monthly subscription model has been applied to other verticals like food (Foodzie), make-up (BirchBox), jewelry (BeachMint) and coffee (Craft Coffee -- see our profile).
BACKSTORY: Jessica, who started a premium baked-goods company in college and was a brand manager for Kraft, initially created baby products she thought were missing in the market, like the BabbaCover, an infant carseat cover, and the BabbaBurpie, a reversible burp cloth. She realized the need for the BabbaBox when she spent too much time and money on materials for a project with her 4-year-old daughter.
HOW: BabbaCo works with a panel of experts, including physical therapists, to determine the best teaching methods and which hands-on art projects are effective for fine-tuning motor skills.
GOAL: "Our ultimate goal for BabbaCo is to be the Martha Stewart structure in the parenting space," Jessica tells LAUNCH. "We want to provide solutions to parents in the form of products, media, and community."
BUSINESS MODEL: Monthly and annual subscriptions.
CUSTOMERS/GROWTH: Not disclosing exact numbers. "It's good," Jessica tells LAUNCH. "We're on the right track to hit our goal."
COMPETITION: Toy rental services like BabyPlays, traditional arts-and-crafts kits, publications like Disney's FamilyFun magazine. "No one's really doing this whole holistic enrichment box that [parents] need," Jessica says.
ON BABYPLAYS: "They are selling less clutter and being able to try different toys for your kids," Jessica says. "The BabbaBox is providing enrichment, quality time with between parent and child, and developmental milestones. We're more enriching and educational...actually the opposite of just giving your child a toy."
INVESTORS: Sandbox Industries, LightBank, SV Angel Ron Conway, Gary Vaynerchuk and Brad Snook.
RAISED: $1.2M Series A round [Aug. 1, 2011].
ON EXCELERATE LABS: "Excelerate Labs has been pivotal," Jessica says. "It truly is an accelerator. It was a constant support network of incredible people that probably would've taken me months or weeks to get access to."
SPECIAL DISCOUNT: Use the code LAUNCH15 to get 15% off at checkout.
The BabbaBox comes with the right amount of materials for craft projects, so parents don't end up with leftover pom-poms and pipecleaners.
The BabbaBox always includes a book or story relevant to that month's theme.
1. "A Mompreneur On The Rise With Jessica Kim Of Babbaco" (The Rise to the Top, episode #53)
2. "Child Development: Preschoolers (3-5 Years Old)" (CDC, June 9, 2011)
3. "Ambitious parents spend on educational toys for toddlers" (New York Times, Nov. 24, 2006)
CONTACTS & LINKS
Email: jessicakim at babbaco dot com
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