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Move Baby Move
A great idea is born
Bren and Jess Lovell hope to help many families with their unique Baby Activity Chart. Thanks partly to the Small Business Mentoring Service their educational product could become a successful business venture.
Bren has worked in and studied child development for more than 30 years. After completing her Master of Education on helping children to improve low co-ordination skills with a sensory motor activity program, she now lectures at Victoria University.
Jess is a stay-at-home mother of two pre-schoolers who has worked as a high school integration aid and youth worker. She has also completed a Diploma of Visual Art.
Bren and Jess combined their strengths to become co-directors of Move Baby Move, a baby development information service and creator of educational products. Launched in late 2012, it initially sold the Baby Activity Chart with planned to introduce more products.
The chart uses Bren’s extensive knowledge to provide helpful, easily accessible and digestible information for new parents. “She feels she hasn’t reached enough little bubbas, toddlers or school aged children in all her years of working in the field of child development,” Jess says.
After initially selling the Baby Activity Chart on-line through the Move Baby Move website, Bren and Jess plan to move into retail and publish in other formats such as an iPad application and as an e-book. Eventually they hope to sell the chart overseas.
“Another driving factor is my need to create an income, rather than return to the work force, so I can continue my role as a stay-at-home mum,” Jess says.
The Baby Activity Chart has 37 activities, divided into four easy to read sections, to encourage parents and carers to be actively involved in their baby’s development. The fun activities are age appropriate -the Chart is suitable for a 6 week old baby through to the toddler walking milestone- and designed to help your baby naturally reach developmental milestones.
It can initially be hung on the wall at the end of a baby’s change table then as the baby becomes more mobile the chart can be moved into their play space.
Jess had the chart designed by Melbourne graphic design company langdonlorraine. “We worked closely with them, editing back and forth, for just over two years,” Jess says. Four of Bren’s grand children helped to road test it.
Bren and Jess were a great team with a great idea but both lacked relevant business experience. When they started Jess had none at all. Bren ran a GymbaRoo franchise for 10 years but that was a service rather than a new product.
“I felt a mentor was necessary to take the next step of creating a business structure to support our ideas, to become clearer on what we actually were and for someone to help validate our vision,” Jess says.
When they moved into the Eltham area Jess looked for business mentoring on the Nillumbik Business Network website and found a link to SBMS.
SBMS is a non-government non-profit organisation of volunteer expert mentors who give their time and experience to help small business. It is supported by Small Business Victoria, which refers clients to it.
Guy Ward, from the Small Business Mentoring Service (SBMS) is a business mentor and engineering consultant with 15 years' experience in business including an eight year involvement in a home-based franchise. More recently he has been involved in the start up of an internet publishing business.
Jess had three sessions with Guy and Bren attended one of them. He said while they had produced part one of a “most appealing” product, both lacked the core business knowledge to take the business to the next level.
“The basics of setting up a business were discussed initially and the importance of doing some market research to help determine the industry they were going to be operating in and the most appropriate business model,” Guy said
“Different ways in which their product could be promoted were discussed as well as possible ways their intellectual property could be utilised to generate revenue streams.”
They also covered the need to protect their intellectual property and Guy conducted a detailed review of the draft business plan, suggesting that a more compact and succinct plan might work better for them.
“Jess has now produced a very clear and concise plan that captures what they are about and what they are trying to achieve,” Guy says. “Their vision for the business is to become a leading authority on the development stages of babies as well as early childhood development.”
Guy then suggested further business training for Jess, who undertook a Going Into Business workshop. He also helped with finding a website development company and what to consider when doing this.
“I tried to provide as much encouragement as I could, particularly as I feel that their product is extremely worthwhile and will provide a most valuable benefit in people’s lives,” Guy says. “They have inspired me by what they are trying to achieve.”
Jess says Move Baby Move benefited “immensely” from Guy’s start-up mentoring. “I have benefited immensely too!” she says.
“Guy has helped me to work out our fixed and variable figures and our break-even figures as well as guided me through a SWOT analysis which has deepened my understanding of where our business sits within the baby product industry landscape.”
Jess says Guy also saw the value in the Baby Activity Chart as a product that contributed positively society. “He has provided us with positive feedback on our product and he has suggested to us many different ways (most new concepts to me) to get it to market.
“Guy has never been shocked at what I don’t know. I feel comfortable to ask him questions about all the things I don’t know about business, on line marketing and ‘what is a iPod app?’. With Guy as my mentor, I know I will get a balanced, knowledgeable and generous offering in response.”
Guy believes Jess is now much more confident of success. “She has been very receptive to mentoring and has taken on board many of my suggestions that she felt were worthwhile,” he says. “At the same time she seems to have a quiet confidence in what they are trying to achieve.”
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