Those all-important ‘Eureka’ moments can provide entrepreneurs with the best ideas for new products and services, according to Lesley Berber. Berber is chief executive of Babypotz, which sells reusable plastic containers for storing home made baby food.
‘‘The idea came for Babypotz when I was having dessert at my sister’s house,’’ said Berber. ‘‘She gave her guests a little tub of home-made ice-cream frozen in fab little individual portion sized pots. I knew these little pots would be a very useful alternative to freezing home made purees in ice cube trays, which was then the norm.’’
Berber experimented at home with different containers, using her daughter for help with the market research.
‘‘I was smack bang in the middle of weaning my second child at the time. She was the perfect end user for the product I wanted to create. I soon Lesley Berber: ‘The future is all about growth’ saw it was a great idea to use for myself and quickly realised this was a solution to a problem shared by many other parents,’’ she said.
Babypotz containers have snap-on lids and they are suitable for freezers, microwaves, dishwashers and sterilising. A mixed set of 50 pots retails at e18.50. Berber established the business on a small scale in 2004 in Cabinteely, Co Dublin.
‘‘I set up a $20 register.com online store. I then contacted a magazine distributed free to creches and took out a small advert for e200. My first customers came to the website,’’ she said.
The ‘potz’, which are made from chemical free plastic, were sourced through family contacts.
‘‘My sister in London owns a large packaging company and she is my main supplier. This has been hugely beneficial as a start-ups might not normally have such easy access to product. An important step for us was sourcing a new pot that was BPA-free and fully microwaveable,’’ she said.
Babypotz sells in the Irish market in more than 100 pharmacies, nursery stores and supermarkets, Berber also has retail partners in Britain, Dubai, Spain, Portugal, France, Germany, the US, Australia and Egypt. Customers can buy the containers online at www.babypotz.com and Amazon. Online sales were very important for the company, Berber said.
‘‘I sell on Amazon UK and France, and will soon also include Italy and Germany. The Amazon reviews are amazing and real, and a true credit to the company. Selling online is the most profitable side of the business,’’ she said.
Berber learned about marketing through trial and error.
Do the research early
‘‘I wasted a lot of money a few years ago advertising in Britain without doing my research properly. I invested in print, when I should have in- vested in a baby show. I will rectify this finally this year as I attend my first British baby show in Manchester,’’ she said.
Work-life balance issues can also be challenging at times, said Berber, who has two daughters, aged 12 and nine. ‘‘The juggling of my time is a constant battle. The development of the product is only hampered by the shortage of time that I can afford to give to the business,’’ she said.
Berber said she received valuable support from Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Enterprise Board. ‘‘We meet every month to discuss ideas and exchange experiences. I have received an employment grant for my part time member of staff and support for the translation of my website into other languages. I also recently attended a very useful eight week social media course and store products in their enterprise centre in Nutgrove,’’ she said.
Berber said she expected Babypotz to continue to expand rapidly overseas in the coming years. ‘‘The future is all about growth and volume sales. In two years’ time, I see the company with treble the current turnover and employing two further bodies to pack the pots to keep up with demand. Growing the brand within Britain and then France, Spain, Italy and Germany will be key,’’ she said.
Lesley Berber is chief executive of Babypotz. Visit the site here at www.babypotz.com