Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we’re talking with Alexie O’Brien, COO of parenthood social marketplace Tell Me Baby .
In 128 words or less, explain your business idea
Tell Me Baby is a social marketplace that helps parents overcome the confusion and overwhelm of being a first-time parent. Parents trust the advice of other parents when it comes to making important buying decisions for the health and safety of their families. On our platform, parents can research, purchase and rate products, making it easy for parents to buy the most trusted or suitable product for their families.
Our review system rewards parents for their expertise, creating a community of honest, transparent feedback. We build a community of parents helping other parents, which in turn drives authentic user-generated content and encourages parents to purchase products. Brands in the baby product industry can advertise on our platform and communicate directly with consumers with a high buying intent.
What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?
Being a start-up, we have boot-strapped, stretched our initial investment round, and tapped into our family and friends as much as we possibly could. We initially raised a small round when we appointed an experienced board that was impressed with our initial results, understood our vision and the possibilities of the business model, and we have not stopped networking for capital raises. When we were ready for a bigger round of investment we leveraged this network to land a larger cornerstone investor. When it comes to hiring talent, flexibility has been a core strategy and value.
We have been able to hire great talent that need this flexibility (remote workforce, part time and parents), and we have been able to leverage this model as we have grown. As a business we have also overcome issues and pivoted towards a more sustainable business model, which will now be our model for the long term. We never stick to tactics that aren’t working or proving valuable for our business for long.
What’s the biggest challenge facing your business?
The biggest challenge is probably similar to any new business model – it is a constant education process about the new model, and this takes time.
How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?
Tell Me Baby is being built as a social marketplace, which really is a unique model so we don’t have any direct competitors. We aren’t purely an e-commerce site, or a review or advertising platform, so our business model is closing the loop on all of the above.
What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?
Slack. It keeps our whole team in constant communication which is vital when you have a remote workforce operating at the speed we do.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
Own your customer – and by this I mean, own the total experience with her, know her deeply, her wants, needs and problems and help resolve them. Don’t forget to surprise and delight her along the way too.
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