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AMA: Katie Hanton-Parr, co-founder of Baboodle

AMA: Katie Hanton-Parr, co-founder of Baboodle

Table of Contents

"Rent everything but the baby". Baboodle is a baby equipment rental service for parents who don’t want to (or have) the cash to splash and want to reduce waste. We asked co-founder Katie Hanton-Parr what inspired this brilliant concept.

Hi Katie! What's the story behind your startup and the inspiration that led to its creation?

I co-founded Baboodle with my brother whilst on maternity leave. I was spending thousands of pounds on equipment that either I or my daughter didn't like, so the idea for Baboddle struck.

Baboodle's mission is to reduce costs and waste in the baby equipment industry.

We offer fully flexible rentals, allowing parents to try different prams, cot carriers and more without having to spend thousands of pounds. If they like the item, they can keep it for as long as they need, and if they don't, they can return it and try again. 

Did you hit any roadblocks along the way?

Our model is based on asset ownership, so we need to have enough capital to buy the initial stock. When we launched, we didn't expect the demand to be so high, so we had to find a way of accessing large amounts of capital very early on.

Building a strong startup team is essential. How do you motivate your team and what role do they play in your company's growth?

Both my brother and I are motivated by wanting to see each other succeed as ourselves.

Our other full-time staff members are either our mum's friends, who have bought into Baboodle's vision having experienced the issues we are solving first-hand, or ex-colleagues who we are familiar with and trust.

As a small team, everyone can see the impact that their work is having which is motivating in itself. 

Have there been any significant changes or evolutions in your business strategy?

We launched our business to focus on long-term rentals, which is still our long-term goal. However, we overlooked the importance of rental for travel as parents don't want to take their equipment from home abroad. The demand was huge and it was great for brand awareness. 

Do you have mentors? What advice would you offer to others seeking mentorship?

We have three unbelievable advisors who are a brilliant sounding board. Each conversation with them leaves us feeling motivated and provides clarity that we are moving in the right direction.

Find advisors with the blend of the skills and knowledge you need.

Finding advisors with a blend of skills and knowledge has been the best decision we've made and is a must-have for anyone seeking mentorship. 

For aspiring entrepreneurs and early-stage founders, what are the most critical pieces of advice you would give to help them on their startup journey, based on your own experiences?

Going from a relatively stress-free job to Baboodle has been an experience that has taken some getting used to. Get used to feeling uncomfortable and learn to embrace it.

Get comfortable being uncomfortable.

If used in the right way it can be an incredibly motivating tool.

Staying on top of our finances right from the off has made our life so much easier. So, I’d say try and get all the processes in place before revenue and expenses grow to the point where staying on top of them becomes impossible. 

What sets Baboodle apart from competitors?

Fortunately, competition within our space is currently fairly limited. There are a couple of companies focusing on the travel side of things, but we believe our pricing, brand and customer experience/word of mouth will carry us through.

Moving forward, we are constantly working on our UX to make understanding our concept and the customer experience as seamless as possible. 

Do you have a share scheme in place? 

We do have a share scheme. We set aside equity for our early employees and for significant future hires. For our early hires, it provides extra motivation to push Baboodle in the right direction. For our future hires, we are hoping it allows us to attract top-tier talent to work for us. 

Fantastic! If you could time travel to any point in history to learn from or meet an iconic entrepreneur, who would it be, and what questions would you ask them?

A predictable answer, but having read Richard Branson's autobiography when I was younger, I've always been interested in Virgin's story. I'd probably have to ask him for a job. Being an early employee at Virgin would have been an incredible ride.

If you could have a one-hour conversation with any historical business figure, who would it be and what would you ask them?

Steve Jobs, purely because Apple's products are about as perfect as a product can be. I'd ask him about Apple's early marketing strategy. It always seemed effortless but I'm sure an incredible amount of thought went into it.

We’re sure it did too! Thanks for your time, Katie.
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