When Jessica Singer first opened the virtual doors of her company Mamabargains last year, she did so from the comfort of her home.
In just one year, Mamabargains has grown from a home based business to one that includes ten warehouse employees and a full time bookkeeper, not to mention over 40 million hits on the website in one year.
“Our orignal plan was to stay home based for the first year; however, within about four months we had hired two employees and had to look at warehouse space,” says Singer.
Singer and her husband ventured into the business world through a passion of theirs – online shopping. Jessica watched her husband shop at a favorite online store, Backcountry, a one deal at a time website (or odaat), and began to realize that a website specializing in moms would be perfect.
In fact, the initial idea evolved from a dream, from which she woke up and shared the idea with her husband. Though the actual business was not concrete in her mind, Singer says that she and her husband, ” . . . always had an entrepreneurial spirit and when the right idea presented itself we would move forward regardless of the risk.”
The original idea was just for moms, but as it evolved it did so into moms and babies, because, as Singer says, moms don’t cut corner on their babies, even during a recession.
Singer and her husband forumlated a business plan, and while doing so Singer contacted the owner of Backcountry. She didn’t expect a response, and yet two hours later one came. Singer made an appointment and met him at his headquarters, where she shared her business plan. After looking it over, he told her he felt she and her husband had a strong idea that would work.
The rest, as they say, is history.
In terms of start up funds, Singer wasn’t sure what she might need. Since the business was home based, she didn’t have to rent or lease space. Web development, however, became a huge expense due to the focus of her business. The first web programmer did not work out. After sinking $24,000 into the site, Singer had to let him go. They have since found someone who works for the company on a full time basis and who has designed the site so Singer can easily see statistics about what visitors want to find on the site and what time of day they are visiting.
And what are Singer’s thoughts about starting a business in this economy? As with all women business owners I have interviewed over the past few months, she agrees this is the time to do it. “You can do it more inexpensively,” she says, and small businesses are the backbone of the economy – so keep them coming, and our economy can grow.
Mamabargains just took 19th place in the Start up Nations top 200 businesses.