I love a good entrepreneur success story, especially when it involves a new idea, zero previous business experience, four partnerships and a return on investment of over 10 times in less than 9 months. This is the abbreviated story of MetroMamma, a company founded my two new mammas "searching for a project". Now it´s one of the hottest new businesses in the baby market.
Started 9 months ago by Leah Mamome and Carrie McNeil, both pregnant with second children, they were complaining about the homogeneity of the Baby Bjorn carrier. The two women started playing around with wraps and using "a load of material" constructed a wrap they liked. The first thing they did was "create a deadline" said Leah, and chose the Las Vegas Magic Show. The only way they could launch was "with the help of others" said Leah, and like so many first-time entrepreneurs, they stumbled into the world of partnerships.
Their first partnership was with Nancy Smith, Leah´s close friend and seamstress, educated the two about materials and construction. She worked overtime to create hundreds of prototypes in time for the show. That was the next problem-getting into the show, paying the five grand and creating awareness to stand out in a sea of booths stuffed with baby goods. (Nancy has another job and can´t take referral now-so sorry-no links!)
Partnership number two was with a marketing partnership-going halfsies with the owner of cherellausa.com, who offered to share a booth at the Las Vegas Magic Show, which really isn´t about magic at all. The two firms split the cost, and from this show, MetroMamma sold out of prototypes. Two out of town retailers were wearing Baby Bjorn´s and after trying on the MetroMamma wrap, literally removed their Baby Bjorn´s, threw them in the trash and walked off with their kids in the slings. Beyond the raving fan customer feedback, MM signed up 6 retail distributors. Within initial seed capital in the bank (and their costs nearly covered), they were a full-fledged business.
Now it was time to grow. During the four-day event, Mamome and McNeil found partners for full-fledged manufacturing requirements. Partnership number three was with a sewing firm out of Las Angeles, who provided them cutting and sewing services. Different from a standard vendor, this is more of a partnership, since the terms include performance incentives, and a share of the risk and return for the product success.
Partner number four was with a designer whom Leah collaborated with to create the new "Bling" line of wraps (dragon is my favorite!). Just like a celebrity, Mamone jumped write in and co-designed four new wraps, one of which she wore to a wedding, and was stopped "literally every two feet". This gave her so much encouragement, she had 100 prototypes of each created and attended another trade show. This time, the results were overwhelming. In two days, MetroMamma signed 30 new retail accounts, a distribution partnership with a Canadian retailer and a Mexico City retailer, who has already had 2 re-orders.
Mamone says that partnerships were vital to jump starting her business, and the reason they return on investment for this skyrocketing business is over ten times. Now partnerships will be critical for MetroMamma´s future.
As a side note, Carrie´s dad is an engineer, and was able to get the fabric used by Metro Mamma tested at the Nasa Space Labs, who wrote a report on the durability of the cotton. This report is used as a competitive advantage by Mamone´s team, and validates the claim of holding a 38 pound kid by the wrap. So while not a partnership-I thought this was a fabulous use of a third party to validate a cool claim.