May 5, 2022

Natalie Gordon (Babylist) - How she combined content and commerce to better serve expecting parents, her approach to raising capital and creative product partnerships

Natalie Gordon (Babylist) - How she combined content and commerce to better serve expecting parents, her approach to raising capital and creative product partnerships

Our guest today is Natalie Gordon, founder and CEO of Babylist. Babylist is a baby registry and ecommerce platform, combining content, commerce and data to serve millions of expecting and new parents. We focus on why Natalie decided to start Babylist when she just became a new mother, how reading The Lean Startup impacted her decision making to solving the chicken and the egg problem of marketplaces, finding product-market fit and a unique approach to partnerships.

Here are some of the questions I ask Natalie:

1. What was the insight that led to the founding of Babylist?

  1. 11 years ago - creating your own baby registry
  2. There must be a better way!!!!
  3. Worked on another startup in the language learning space
  4. If you can work on it for
  5. Small aspirations day by day
  6. Lean startup
  7. Inflection point on Pinterest
    1. Did you always want to become an entrepreneur?
    2. What were some lessons learned during your time at Amazon that were helpful in your journey?
    3. What were some of the first steps that you had to take to validate your idea?
    4. How do you think about using content to lead to curation to purchase?
    5. What are the requirements to sell on Babylist?
    6. When you have a marketplace, you have a chicken and the egg problem. What were the first steps you took to solve for it? Was it tougher getting supply going vs. demand or vise versa?
  8. Did you keep inventory?
    1. How did you approach demand / customer acquititon channels in the early days?
    2. How did you approach raising capital?
    3. What were some of the moments that as you look back were actually huge unlocks for your business?
    4. How did you make the business more sustainable for you
    5. You’ve now started selling your own products and aren’t just a marketplace. How do you think about what products to launch? What has been the reaction?
    6. How do you think about trying and testing out products for parents online and in brick and mortar?
    7. What has been the result during the pandemic when it comes to purchase behavior?
    8. What’s one thing you would change about venture capital?
    9. What’s one book that inspired you personally and one book that inspired you professionally?
  9. Professionally: No rules rules by Reid Hastings
  10. Personally: Dear Sugar - online advice column
    1. What’s one piece of advice that you have for founders?
  11. Long game
  12. Relationships are long
Transcript
WEBVTT 1 00:00:12.439 --> 00:00:17.039 Hello and welcome to the consumer VC. I am your host, Michael but 2 00:00:17.120 --> 00:00:20.760 and. On this show we talked about the world of venture capital and innovation 3 00:00:20.879 --> 00:00:25.280 in both consumer technology and consumer products. If you're enjoying this content, you 4 00:00:25.280 --> 00:00:30.280 could subscribe to my newsletter, the consumer VC DOT sub stackcom, to get 5 00:00:30.280 --> 00:00:34.560 each new episode and more consumer news delivered straight to your inbox. Our guest 6 00:00:34.600 --> 00:00:38.679 today is Natalie Gordon, founder and CEO Babylist. Baby List is a baby 7 00:00:38.759 --> 00:00:43.759 registry and ECOMMERCE platform that combines content, commerce and data to serve millions of 8 00:00:43.799 --> 00:00:48.280 expecting a new parents. We chat about why Natalie decided her baby list when 9 00:00:48.280 --> 00:00:52.159 she just became a new mother, how reading the lean start up impacted her 10 00:00:52.159 --> 00:00:57.280 decisionmaking, to solving the chicken neck problem of market places, finding product market 11 00:00:57.280 --> 00:01:02.200 fit and her unique approach to partnerships with brands. Without further ADO, here's 12 00:01:02.280 --> 00:01:11.000 Natalie. Natalie, thank you so much for joining me today on the Consumer 13 00:01:11.040 --> 00:01:12.319 V. See. How are you doing? I'm great. It's so great 14 00:01:12.319 --> 00:01:15.200 to be here. My Oh, it's an absolute pleasure, absolute pleasure. 15 00:01:15.400 --> 00:01:22.359 So talk to me a little bit about the beginning. What was the initial 16 00:01:22.519 --> 00:01:27.159 insight that led you to found babylist? I love that question. It was 17 00:01:27.200 --> 00:01:30.560 eleven years ago. The reason I know it was eleven years ago is because 18 00:01:30.599 --> 00:01:38.079 I haven't eleven year old and my son is now playing reblocks like he's eleven. 19 00:01:38.200 --> 00:01:42.719 But when I was pregnant with him, I was expecting him, I 20 00:01:42.760 --> 00:01:46.959 was creating my own baby registry, I was getting ready for my own baby 21 00:01:47.000 --> 00:01:53.079 shower and it was like that very classic moment there must be a better way. 22 00:01:53.400 --> 00:01:57.640 I was going through the experience. I knew I was not going to 23 00:01:57.680 --> 00:02:01.000 find everything in one store at that time, that was babies R us, 24 00:02:01.040 --> 00:02:07.879 and knew I wanted things that some independent stores also the Cursey, the Stroller, 25 00:02:07.039 --> 00:02:12.159 the baby carrier. Also we there were some things that were incredibly important 26 00:02:12.199 --> 00:02:16.120 to our family. People contributing a month of a diaper service was incredibly important 27 00:02:16.120 --> 00:02:22.840 to us. Someone actually coming over and walking our German shepherd at seven am 28 00:02:22.879 --> 00:02:25.520 for the first couple of weeks was incredibly meaningful to us, and so that 29 00:02:25.639 --> 00:02:30.639 was really the inspiration for baby list. It was this better baby registry that 30 00:02:30.680 --> 00:02:35.120 works across retailer and let's you ask for like the things and the things that 31 00:02:35.159 --> 00:02:40.840 are like not actual products but are deeply meaningful to families. And so I 32 00:02:40.879 --> 00:02:46.199 actually at my backgrounds and software engineering. I'm a software developer. I had 33 00:02:46.240 --> 00:02:52.280 been an engineer and Amazon for about four years. I had worked on another 34 00:02:52.360 --> 00:02:57.039 startup in the language learning space for about a year and that wasn't going that 35 00:02:57.120 --> 00:03:02.000 well and I had the idea for baby list. And then it was around 36 00:03:02.039 --> 00:03:07.560 the time of the lean start up by air grease and I read that book 37 00:03:07.639 --> 00:03:10.319 kind of towards the end of this language learning start up and I was like, 38 00:03:10.599 --> 00:03:14.560 Oh, this is like so clear, like everything I did wrong and 39 00:03:14.599 --> 00:03:15.719 what I would do if I could do it all again. And so, 40 00:03:16.120 --> 00:03:22.759 following that method, really got to this minimal viable product and launched it within 41 00:03:22.879 --> 00:03:25.280 two weeks of actually having my son, and then it was something that just 42 00:03:25.319 --> 00:03:30.120 grew from there. Slow and study for that first year and then, once 43 00:03:30.120 --> 00:03:34.479 I moved to it full time, just bigger and bigger and bigger until we're 44 00:03:34.560 --> 00:03:38.759 here eleven years later. Amazing. Amazing. I mean what was also a 45 00:03:38.919 --> 00:03:44.120 like started a business going through also that phase in life too, when you're 46 00:03:44.240 --> 00:03:47.280 just about to have your first child. There's a ton going on. Obviously 47 00:03:47.360 --> 00:03:52.280 you could understand like the pain point that you were experiencing, but would love 48 00:03:52.319 --> 00:03:54.159 to just kind of also, you know, get into a little bit about 49 00:03:54.159 --> 00:03:58.639 why it was so important for you at that time to start babylss. It 50 00:03:58.639 --> 00:04:02.000 it makes sense. It was really important to me, I think, in 51 00:04:02.039 --> 00:04:06.639 a really emotional way. It's not like it was something that was taking away. 52 00:04:06.719 --> 00:04:13.240 It was something that would during this very kind of isolating, lonely time 53 00:04:13.599 --> 00:04:16.720 when I had a newborn at home. Things were very hard. I had 54 00:04:16.759 --> 00:04:24.959 this like very interesting intellectual thing that I was creating that I got to work 55 00:04:25.000 --> 00:04:28.800 on for a number of months. I had a goal where if I could 56 00:04:28.839 --> 00:04:30.879 work on it for forty five minutes in a day, that was a successful 57 00:04:30.959 --> 00:04:34.759 day. I could do the customer service that needed to be done, maybe 58 00:04:34.839 --> 00:04:40.319 fix one bug, maybe send out one email to a blog to talk about 59 00:04:40.319 --> 00:04:46.439 babylst just like very small aspirations day by day. But what it actually meant 60 00:04:46.480 --> 00:04:49.800 to me? It was hugely significant to me at that time of life because 61 00:04:49.800 --> 00:04:54.879 it is hard. I was home with a newborn. At some point, 62 00:04:55.000 --> 00:05:00.120 maybe six months after my son was born, I hired a babysitter with the 63 00:05:00.120 --> 00:05:04.600 money baby list was making and then I would walk around the corner and work 64 00:05:04.639 --> 00:05:09.079 in a coffee shop for two and a half hours while she watched my son 65 00:05:09.120 --> 00:05:12.079 and then I would come home again. And so it really did just like 66 00:05:12.279 --> 00:05:15.199 ramp up during that first year in a way that was so meaningful to me 67 00:05:15.240 --> 00:05:19.560 and actually very complimentary to that life stage. That's really, really impressive to 68 00:05:19.680 --> 00:05:23.639 I just can't even imagine, you know, being at home, having to 69 00:05:23.639 --> 00:05:27.480 take care of your newborn and as well as starting this new business, which 70 00:05:27.480 --> 00:05:32.279 of obviously has done incredible did you always want to be entrepreneur? No, 71 00:05:32.519 --> 00:05:38.439 it was I don't even think it was something I could consider or imagine. 72 00:05:38.680 --> 00:05:43.560 I never thought that was a path for me. I couldn't even picture it. 73 00:05:43.600 --> 00:05:46.800 Maybe things are different now with shows like shirt Tang or maybe more podcast 74 00:05:46.879 --> 00:05:50.839 but it was something that I never thought, Oh, I'll be the founder 75 00:05:50.920 --> 00:05:54.959 of a company and I never thought I would be a CEO of a company 76 00:05:54.959 --> 00:05:59.480 this size. And it takes a lot to stick at something for eleven years. 77 00:05:59.560 --> 00:06:03.959 And and actually I got really lucky in the audience that I chose to 78 00:06:03.959 --> 00:06:10.319 build this business for, because people who are becoming parents are phenomenal to be 79 00:06:10.360 --> 00:06:14.800 able to serve every day. It is the most inspiring audience to write content 80 00:06:15.000 --> 00:06:19.040 and build products for people who are welcoming a baby, having this incredibly significant 81 00:06:19.079 --> 00:06:23.720 life stage and all of the people that really want to support this family. 82 00:06:24.319 --> 00:06:30.480 What was your method to actually build an audience from scratch? What was what 83 00:06:30.560 --> 00:06:35.439 was that process like? Yeah, I when I'm asked that question it's like 84 00:06:35.480 --> 00:06:42.279 there were different eras and then what worked in one era was not that important 85 00:06:42.319 --> 00:06:45.439 to the next era. So when someone very early stage is asking me for 86 00:06:45.480 --> 00:06:48.480 advice, I can give what worked in the early stage ten years ago, 87 00:06:48.519 --> 00:06:53.519 but which it might be very different than what's working for us right now. 88 00:06:53.680 --> 00:07:00.680 I would say at launch, using this leane startup method, before we had 89 00:07:00.800 --> 00:07:06.600 actually launched, I had emailed I believe it was ten pregnancy blogs or parenting 90 00:07:06.600 --> 00:07:14.879 blogs specifically with like a very personal, tailored email saying take a look at 91 00:07:14.920 --> 00:07:18.560 this registry that has pis that I think you would have chosen, and I 92 00:07:18.560 --> 00:07:25.000 believe that launch maybe five of them actually like wrote about baby list out of 93 00:07:25.000 --> 00:07:29.040 the gate, and so that was I would say that was year one. 94 00:07:29.079 --> 00:07:33.079 It was like that hustle. We had a very significant inflection point a couple 95 00:07:33.120 --> 00:07:39.279 of years after that, real success with Pinterest as they were opening up their 96 00:07:39.319 --> 00:07:43.839 paid advertising channel. If you think about baby last it actually works quite a 97 00:07:43.879 --> 00:07:46.399 lot like pinterest. We were able to get a lot of traction with a 98 00:07:46.399 --> 00:07:50.160 lot of our fantastic content on Pinterest, and so that was a significant way 99 00:07:50.199 --> 00:07:56.680 that we could scale. And then, I think now everyone's gone to a 100 00:07:56.720 --> 00:08:01.600 baby shower that use baby list and that viral component is so important and I 101 00:08:01.639 --> 00:08:05.160 always knew that it was there even ten years ago, but now it's something 102 00:08:05.199 --> 00:08:09.000 that's completely quantifiable and part of our model as well as just the, I'd 103 00:08:09.040 --> 00:08:15.959 say, at scale, great performance marketing. What did you decide that you 104 00:08:16.040 --> 00:08:20.560 needed to raise that your capital and what was the reason? What was that 105 00:08:20.600 --> 00:08:24.160 process like for you? I love a question. We've really had a less 106 00:08:24.240 --> 00:08:28.879 traditional path and I like talking about our funding because I think it's a really 107 00:08:28.920 --> 00:08:35.960 good example to founders and entrepreneurs. We've never really needed to raise capital. 108 00:08:35.000 --> 00:08:41.039 There have been a couple of times in our company history where we've chosen to 109 00:08:41.120 --> 00:08:46.039 raise vent your capital. Were raised a seed round coming out of the five 110 00:08:46.120 --> 00:08:52.440 hundred startups accelerator program about nine years ago, raised from a strategic and then 111 00:08:52.639 --> 00:08:58.759 raised our forty million dollar round in fall. Two Thousand and twenty one, 112 00:08:58.799 --> 00:09:03.200 I would say, for almost every year of our business we have been profitable 113 00:09:03.559 --> 00:09:11.840 and we've had this like very sustainable, profitable business and even US raising the 114 00:09:11.840 --> 00:09:15.879 serious C in fall two thousand and twenty one. The goal is that we 115 00:09:16.240 --> 00:09:20.919 still maintain that, that we still really are building this business, that we're 116 00:09:20.000 --> 00:09:24.919 what we're doing sustainable, what we're doing is for the long term. That's 117 00:09:24.960 --> 00:09:30.320 really helpful, since you've been profitable for seems like the entirety, or close 118 00:09:30.399 --> 00:09:33.759 the entirety, of baby list. was that ever like an issue for investors, 119 00:09:33.799 --> 00:09:35.639 and I mean that because that's you are so kind of grow, grow, 120 00:09:35.679 --> 00:09:39.279 grow, growth minded and, you know, let's think about profitability may 121 00:09:39.320 --> 00:09:43.519 be way later. was that that ever come up as maybe like an issue 122 00:09:43.559 --> 00:09:46.519 for you? We're not really. Yeah, it would come up as complete 123 00:09:46.639 --> 00:09:52.000 confusion. It was like no know who to compare you too. Like that, 124 00:09:52.080 --> 00:09:56.360 we've also really been growing as well as being profitable. It's like very 125 00:09:56.440 --> 00:10:00.440 confusing. It's like when's your payback period, the like. What's you your 126 00:10:00.720 --> 00:10:03.559 burn ring were like not here, like let us educate you on our business 127 00:10:03.639 --> 00:10:11.000 model. I think something really interesting. When you're talking to VC, and 128 00:10:11.039 --> 00:10:15.759 I can say this with someone I've run this business for eleven years, I 129 00:10:15.840 --> 00:10:18.840 understand our business model. I have some insights on what works and what doesn't 130 00:10:18.879 --> 00:10:26.600 work, and you talk to an investor and they really do understand businesses across 131 00:10:26.679 --> 00:10:30.600 domains and have all of that and I do think that entrepreneurs can really get 132 00:10:30.639 --> 00:10:35.440 in trouble if they take that advice in an unfiltered way without really saying like, 133 00:10:35.519 --> 00:10:41.360 what would actually work for this business, not what's wishful thinking for this 134 00:10:41.360 --> 00:10:45.720 business, and so I think that's something that's come for me. There's a 135 00:10:45.799 --> 00:10:50.039 level of confidence after having run this business to really put things through that filter 136 00:10:50.039 --> 00:10:54.519 where there's a lot of very valuable insight that investors are seeing on their end, 137 00:10:54.679 --> 00:10:58.440 but it's really important to know what's going to work for this business now. 138 00:10:58.440 --> 00:11:01.519 No, totally. Do you remember ever getting any point of views from 139 00:11:01.559 --> 00:11:05.759 investors who just were, you know, educated or quite know of baby list 140 00:11:05.840 --> 00:11:09.200 that you thought that actually wouldn't work? That definitely would not work in our 141 00:11:09.279 --> 00:11:15.080 land of business. I would say this last round of fundraising I met incredible 142 00:11:15.080 --> 00:11:20.120 people, women with two month olds pretty much everyone, and actually use maybe 143 00:11:20.200 --> 00:11:24.080 less either as a registrant artificover, which felt fantastic. There are certain ideas, 144 00:11:24.120 --> 00:11:28.120 if they're spreadsheet ideas, it's like, wouldn't it be better if we 145 00:11:28.200 --> 00:11:33.360 had like a longer LTV? And it's like over, some be better. 146 00:11:33.840 --> 00:11:39.000 You're right, it's completely correct. And then I'd feel like, but do 147 00:11:39.000 --> 00:11:43.759 you see, like all the value were providing for people, like up until 148 00:11:43.879 --> 00:11:46.480 having the baby, and like here is how we extend that lifetime and we 149 00:11:46.519 --> 00:11:50.440 really do into parenthood. And so ideas would come like that, like Oh, 150 00:11:50.480 --> 00:11:54.679 would like, wouldn't be great to turn this into a diaper subscription, 151 00:11:54.120 --> 00:11:58.639 and I think that could be a great idea for someone else's business. It 152 00:11:58.639 --> 00:12:03.960 would be. It'd be like, of course, but like that, that's 153 00:12:03.039 --> 00:12:07.399 not going to work with like what we do, and so I actually appreciate 154 00:12:07.639 --> 00:12:13.320 that energy and advice. I do think it's up to the entrepreneur to have 155 00:12:13.360 --> 00:12:18.679 the right filter for it. Going back even your question about investors being confused 156 00:12:18.679 --> 00:12:24.559 by the profitability. Now profitable companies are in vogue. We were really to 157 00:12:24.600 --> 00:12:28.440 being profitable before it was before it was cool. What were some of the 158 00:12:28.440 --> 00:12:33.840 moments did you look back that you think we're like actually huge unlocks for your 159 00:12:33.840 --> 00:12:39.279 business, and maybe you were not obvious at the time, or obvious or 160 00:12:39.279 --> 00:12:46.559 obvious. I think that one was when we really chose to invest in our 161 00:12:46.559 --> 00:12:50.240 content, and you you mentioned our content and I said, actually, it 162 00:12:50.279 --> 00:12:54.919 wasn't there from the very beginning and the way we actually launched it. We 163 00:12:54.960 --> 00:13:03.120 had fantastic intern and she did users survey with our users about their favorite products 164 00:13:03.159 --> 00:13:07.679 and then turn that into kind of the very first version of like best diaper 165 00:13:07.799 --> 00:13:11.960 pals, best baby bottles, these guides. And this was at a time 166 00:13:11.279 --> 00:13:16.879 when what you would find in the Internet would be a twenty seven slide slideshow 167 00:13:16.879 --> 00:13:22.000 on best rollers. So not very helpful and the goal at that time, 168 00:13:22.840 --> 00:13:28.039 I think, really was content marketing. So this is a way to do 169 00:13:28.159 --> 00:13:31.559 content marketing and how we're going to be introduced to our audience. But I 170 00:13:31.600 --> 00:13:39.519 actually feel like the commination of this content, plus commerce and audience has actually 171 00:13:39.559 --> 00:13:46.120 been so critical to US getting to this stage in terms of our core user 172 00:13:46.240 --> 00:13:52.200 experience. So when you're going through this experience, we actually are the most 173 00:13:52.240 --> 00:13:54.919 helpful source to make all these product decisions, and that's something I hear all 174 00:13:54.960 --> 00:13:58.519 the time from our users. and to how we're able to work with partners 175 00:13:58.559 --> 00:14:03.039 because we really have that trust. It really was critical to moving us past 176 00:14:03.159 --> 00:14:09.960 just being this tool to being really influential and really helping on this other level. 177 00:14:09.240 --> 00:14:13.200 Another was this was small and I think is something that we've been able 178 00:14:13.320 --> 00:14:18.039 to really scale up in the past year and have big ambitions for it in 179 00:14:18.080 --> 00:14:22.240 the future. We're great at helping you make these product decisions. We know 180 00:14:22.320 --> 00:14:26.399 this audience, we have a lot of data and we knew bottles for this 181 00:14:26.559 --> 00:14:31.399 very high consideration category. Giving someone a bottle is actually not a great gift, 182 00:14:31.440 --> 00:14:37.200 and so we brought to market the baby list bottle box and it's five 183 00:14:37.240 --> 00:14:43.080 of the top rated bottles in one giftable package, so you can actually try 184 00:14:43.080 --> 00:14:46.120 out your bottle. So we're hearing from parents has how like how am I 185 00:14:46.120 --> 00:14:48.360 going to know what bottle might be? Be Pre first, and so you 186 00:14:48.440 --> 00:14:52.919 try it out and then you can actually buy the whole set. And our 187 00:14:54.360 --> 00:14:58.000 our merchant, who's still with us here at baby list, when we initially 188 00:14:58.000 --> 00:15:01.240 talked about as she was like none of these brands want to want to be 189 00:15:01.279 --> 00:15:05.799 in a box with other when like competitors, and I was like, well, 190 00:15:05.879 --> 00:15:09.159 just like get them on the phone. And she's brilliant and I think 191 00:15:09.159 --> 00:15:13.799 in the initial phone call got like four out of five yesses because everyone genuinely 192 00:15:13.879 --> 00:15:16.279 thinks they have the best bottle, they're just like bring it. So I 193 00:15:16.480 --> 00:15:20.480 think for us, like this was really proving we could make things that weren't 194 00:15:20.519 --> 00:15:24.600 great gifts great gifts. We could really extend our value proposition of helping you 195 00:15:24.639 --> 00:15:28.679 find the right products for your family, like actually to life and like bring 196 00:15:28.759 --> 00:15:33.759 something to life that didn't exist. And I really love how you're able to 197 00:15:33.840 --> 00:15:37.320 kind of convince brands to actually participate in the bottle box. That psychea well, 198 00:15:37.360 --> 00:15:41.240 if you think you really have the best bottle, why would you want 199 00:15:41.240 --> 00:15:46.159 to be our bottle Bo right? That's genius and I also love that because 200 00:15:46.240 --> 00:15:50.039 I know, saffly firsthand that when you receive just one bottle it's like it 201 00:15:50.039 --> 00:15:52.759 doesn't feel that grave of a get, but if it's actually wrapped up and 202 00:15:52.799 --> 00:15:54.799 package in a box and you can actually feel and get a sense of okay, 203 00:15:54.840 --> 00:15:58.360 this is actually very useful because then for my baby I know which bottle 204 00:15:58.519 --> 00:16:02.399 is actually going to work for for him or her. That's awesome and I 205 00:16:02.440 --> 00:16:07.480 loved that you pointed out this kind of content plus commerce and how you're able 206 00:16:07.559 --> 00:16:11.639 to figure out that piece, which obviously I mean you can totally understand, 207 00:16:11.679 --> 00:16:15.440 a huge unlock for for your business there, if you within would love to 208 00:16:15.480 --> 00:16:18.039 dig into that a little bit more, because obviously, what you're creating, 209 00:16:18.200 --> 00:16:22.919 and why? babyless. Even though your person online, you're you're buying real 210 00:16:22.960 --> 00:16:26.399 physical products, right. You're never gonna be able to touch her or have 211 00:16:26.480 --> 00:16:29.480 like a set of touch or able to experience a product unless you obviously go 212 00:16:29.519 --> 00:16:33.600 into a store. Or how do you think as well about bringing that experience 213 00:16:33.759 --> 00:16:40.039 the buying instead of clicking, experience per se online, so that maybe you 214 00:16:40.039 --> 00:16:42.200 have like a pretty good idea in terms of what you're getting? So we've 215 00:16:42.360 --> 00:16:48.120 kind of approached that in a real channel strategy. Our thesis around really the 216 00:16:48.200 --> 00:16:53.039 video production we've done for Youtube is we want you to find that Youtube video 217 00:16:53.360 --> 00:16:57.519 that's this stroller versus that stroller or that's giving you all of the spects on 218 00:16:57.559 --> 00:17:02.440 a specific carciat. We want you to be able to watch this video that's 219 00:17:02.600 --> 00:17:07.559 less than five minutes and we want you to understand that product, the prosing 220 00:17:07.599 --> 00:17:11.240 and the cons, because all products have cons. Not Everything's right for your 221 00:17:11.240 --> 00:17:14.160 family. We want you to understand why it might not work and really have 222 00:17:14.279 --> 00:17:18.160 that editorial angle. We wanted to be better, like when you watch that 223 00:17:18.240 --> 00:17:22.839 video, you understand that stroller better than if you actually saw it in a 224 00:17:22.880 --> 00:17:26.960 store. I think when we look at there's different types of when we look 225 00:17:27.000 --> 00:17:33.680 at email and maybe like more of the fun products, it's actually much more 226 00:17:33.720 --> 00:17:37.319 about discovery. So it's about like I didn't even realize that this product existed 227 00:17:37.640 --> 00:17:42.119 and this is so interesting, this is aspirational, this is inspirational. That 228 00:17:42.160 --> 00:17:47.599 has a bit of a different vent. We're actually really interested also in what 229 00:17:47.799 --> 00:17:51.839 is baby list? What's the baby list experience in real life? And so 230 00:17:51.960 --> 00:17:56.000 in January we had a pop up in La it was called baby list cribs 231 00:17:56.079 --> 00:18:00.799 and it was phenomenal. And if you just think about the a registry experience, 232 00:18:02.240 --> 00:18:06.640 it's a life stage, almost like going to buy my wedding dress, 233 00:18:06.720 --> 00:18:08.119 like in something that everyone's going to do. I'm going to go and I'm 234 00:18:08.119 --> 00:18:12.559 going to make all these product decisions and it feels like there should be some 235 00:18:12.599 --> 00:18:17.880 way to do that, I say, closer to a showroom than a store 236 00:18:17.920 --> 00:18:22.720 where I can't make fifty product decisions, probably fifteen of which are very high 237 00:18:22.759 --> 00:18:26.480 consideration, and feel really confident in my decisions. And so cribs was kind 238 00:18:26.480 --> 00:18:32.119 of that first time that we explored that and there's a virtual version of it 239 00:18:32.200 --> 00:18:37.039 now online, so you can actually experience what that was like virtually, and 240 00:18:37.400 --> 00:18:40.960 I will. I'm excited about how this is gonna continue to grow in the 241 00:18:41.000 --> 00:18:44.440 future. No, totally, and I love the fact that it's also a 242 00:18:44.519 --> 00:18:51.240 virtual you also started creating your own products, because I mean you're kind of 243 00:18:51.240 --> 00:18:56.960 shifting them from kind of curated different brands to your own brands. Was that 244 00:18:56.240 --> 00:19:00.880 business strategically? Was that a difficult shift to do in Your Business? That 245 00:19:00.000 --> 00:19:03.559 was it when I talked to you through the baby less bottle box. That 246 00:19:03.599 --> 00:19:07.480 was our very first fray into that. They'll highly successful in that it was 247 00:19:07.680 --> 00:19:14.000 great for brands, great for users, great business model. That's something that 248 00:19:14.039 --> 00:19:18.839 we have been able to extend over this past year. I believe we launched 249 00:19:18.880 --> 00:19:23.359 a baby less passifire box, a baby less wattle box, and so for 250 00:19:23.480 --> 00:19:29.279 us, as we bring products to market, and Dirk, I three three 251 00:19:29.319 --> 00:19:34.880 things that I really think are important and that are real advantages. One is 252 00:19:34.920 --> 00:19:41.240 we have this incredible data, so we understand what this category looks like a 253 00:19:41.319 --> 00:19:45.960 cross retailers, because people are adding items from just to cross retailers. We're 254 00:19:45.000 --> 00:19:49.720 we're able to know much more about what people are actually asking for and purchasing 255 00:19:49.759 --> 00:19:56.119 outside of what we're directly selling. We also, in everything we do, 256 00:19:56.599 --> 00:20:00.640 having this very high level of trust with our users is the number one thing. 257 00:20:00.720 --> 00:20:03.519 When we don't have that, then I think that it'll be very bad 258 00:20:03.519 --> 00:20:07.279 to our overall business and overall brand. Trust is the most important thing. 259 00:20:07.720 --> 00:20:11.759 And the other thing is we really want to take things that are not great 260 00:20:11.759 --> 00:20:15.319 gifts and we have this opportunity to make them incredible gifts, because what we 261 00:20:15.400 --> 00:20:19.960 do is all around this gifting experience to this new family. What has been 262 00:20:21.039 --> 00:20:25.480 your approach from the very beginning when it comes to billing out the baby list 263 00:20:25.559 --> 00:20:30.160 Heab as you've expanded through eleven years? This is something that I really struggled 264 00:20:30.200 --> 00:20:33.039 with at the very beginning. It was hard for me to tell people why 265 00:20:33.079 --> 00:20:37.160 they wanted to work at baby list. It was even hard for me to 266 00:20:37.200 --> 00:20:41.160 define roles it. I would say, like at that very bootstrap stage when 267 00:20:41.200 --> 00:20:48.720 you're five people, ten people, it was incredibly difficult. Now, kind 268 00:20:48.759 --> 00:20:52.680 of in a fastforward way where this is just become more and more of the 269 00:20:52.680 --> 00:20:57.599 case, we have a consumer brand that people really now have experience. So 270 00:20:57.680 --> 00:21:03.440 when I'm interviewing people there are very familiar with what we do and I think 271 00:21:03.440 --> 00:21:07.799 also when we're talking to people about joining the company, there really is this 272 00:21:07.839 --> 00:21:12.039 like values element to it. We're serving families. We consider ourselves an anti 273 00:21:12.119 --> 00:21:18.359 racist organization. Something that that actually is quite authentic to our culture is we 274 00:21:18.519 --> 00:21:22.359 pretty good work life balance, and that even starts with me, and that 275 00:21:22.480 --> 00:21:27.720 came from a really I remember sitting in a conference room and thinking about like 276 00:21:27.759 --> 00:21:32.680 selling the business. This is quite early on because I felt burnt out. 277 00:21:32.759 --> 00:21:37.480 I was like, actually, it's better for the business itself if I make 278 00:21:37.599 --> 00:21:42.440 my work much more sustainable, so I do this for a longer. And 279 00:21:42.599 --> 00:21:48.000 it really was this shift in US really encoding that like work life balance was 280 00:21:48.039 --> 00:21:52.440 important to us. People don't get emails on the weekends, people have their 281 00:21:52.519 --> 00:21:57.200 evenings and can still be very successful here, and I would of that in 282 00:21:57.200 --> 00:22:02.720 a way that I did not first see. It's just helped us attract incredible 283 00:22:02.720 --> 00:22:07.400 talent and they're at this place in their lives where they have a ton of 284 00:22:07.440 --> 00:22:11.880 experience, they want to join a start up that's very interesting and they're at 285 00:22:11.920 --> 00:22:17.160 a life stage where they're really valuing that balance, and so it's actually helped 286 00:22:17.240 --> 00:22:22.920 us recruit amazing leaders, amazing team members across the board and I think in 287 00:22:22.960 --> 00:22:26.119 a really fantastic way. That's awesome. I would love to kind of hear 288 00:22:26.200 --> 00:22:32.039 more about that point in time where maybe almost sold, or think about selling 289 00:22:32.119 --> 00:22:36.319 baby list and you were burnt out and you realize that you maybe need to 290 00:22:36.359 --> 00:22:41.160 have some distance or have, you know, worklight balance per se between babylist 291 00:22:41.240 --> 00:22:45.039 and obviously your life. What were some of the changes that you made to 292 00:22:45.039 --> 00:22:48.200 to kind of give you that space, because when I talk to entrepreneurs, 293 00:22:48.240 --> 00:22:52.279 I think it's sometimes it's really hard for them to actually give themselves even time 294 00:22:52.440 --> 00:22:56.279 to actually have that space per se. So how did you then structure, 295 00:22:56.279 --> 00:22:59.839 I guess, work like balance in your own terms. I can't all. 296 00:22:59.880 --> 00:23:04.960 I can name some tactical things, but I would say that the thing that 297 00:23:06.039 --> 00:23:10.079 I know about myself, and I guess not just through this part of my 298 00:23:10.119 --> 00:23:11.640 career, through my entire cares, I know what it feels like when I'm 299 00:23:11.640 --> 00:23:15.240 burnt out. I know my body feels like. I know what it feels 300 00:23:15.279 --> 00:23:19.440 like then if I take a weekend off, and so I'm pretty self aware 301 00:23:19.759 --> 00:23:23.160 about where I am in terms of my energy level. And I really think 302 00:23:23.200 --> 00:23:26.880 about it in terms of managing my own energy, because when I manage my 303 00:23:26.920 --> 00:23:32.680 own energy I'm able to like actually show a better, I'm able to lead 304 00:23:32.720 --> 00:23:37.200 that meeting better, I'm able to make that decision better, and so I 305 00:23:37.200 --> 00:23:41.440 would start with that. In terms of tactics, there was a time in 306 00:23:41.480 --> 00:23:45.920 the company history where I really felt quite burnt out and like once a month 307 00:23:45.960 --> 00:23:49.319 I would take Wednesday off. I'm liked, look at it was that small. 308 00:23:49.319 --> 00:23:55.039 It literally is that small and it would be really meaningful. I actually 309 00:23:55.599 --> 00:23:59.880 try. I don't work in the evenings. I know about myself too that 310 00:24:00.039 --> 00:24:03.640 I just have this diminishing level of results. After certain hour I just get 311 00:24:03.680 --> 00:24:08.440 really dumb, and so I just stopped and I know what it feels like 312 00:24:08.480 --> 00:24:12.160 again the next morning. That's not to say I also if I am going 313 00:24:12.200 --> 00:24:15.799 to do extra hours, I would do it on a Saturday morning, and 314 00:24:15.880 --> 00:24:18.720 so I just I actually think about it in terms of managing my own energy 315 00:24:18.759 --> 00:24:23.160 and being selfaware to know what I'm the most effective. Gosh, that is 316 00:24:23.440 --> 00:24:26.880 so well put. My I really love that a lot. Just think about 317 00:24:26.920 --> 00:24:30.000 managing your own energy. That's something that I've been thinking about a lot for 318 00:24:30.039 --> 00:24:33.400 myself and kind of like even when I think about with my diet or just 319 00:24:33.400 --> 00:24:36.960 different things, like what actually is give me energy versus not, especially being 320 00:24:36.960 --> 00:24:40.480 like a new dad and so like, I always just think about things in 321 00:24:40.519 --> 00:24:44.279 terms much more in terms of like energy. So I very much can relate 322 00:24:44.319 --> 00:24:47.200 in a very, very small way to that side of things. What has 323 00:24:47.240 --> 00:24:51.920 been the result with a pandemic on baby less? What was kind of going 324 00:24:51.960 --> 00:24:55.839 through your head personally and professionally during like Mars Two thousand and twenty, and 325 00:24:56.079 --> 00:24:59.400 how are you thinking about Your Business? I had run this business for ten 326 00:24:59.480 --> 00:25:04.720 years and and I knew everything about our users. I understood how baby showers 327 00:25:04.759 --> 00:25:08.799 worked, I understood how baby registries worked, I understood all of the social 328 00:25:08.920 --> 00:25:15.359 dynamics. And with Covid I felt like I understood absolutely nothing and I had 329 00:25:15.400 --> 00:25:18.400 no idea what our users were doing. I had not I felt like I 330 00:25:18.440 --> 00:25:25.359 actually lost that reel thread to like what actually drove our business. We saw 331 00:25:25.400 --> 00:25:30.079 it a couple weeks earlier. There was a very a very visceral memory of 332 00:25:30.160 --> 00:25:33.480 our leadership team all sitting in a conference room, all breathing each other's air, 333 00:25:34.519 --> 00:25:38.519 but actually saying this is coming. What does it mean to our users? 334 00:25:38.599 --> 00:25:41.640 What does it mean to our vendors? What does it mean to our 335 00:25:41.680 --> 00:25:48.200 team members, and actually having that conversation. But the key thing was I 336 00:25:48.200 --> 00:25:55.480 I was really worried. It was my worry was our product is is tied 337 00:25:55.519 --> 00:26:00.440 to this physical, real world event. So this real world event with many 338 00:26:00.480 --> 00:26:04.880 people, sometimes a hundred people, with your grandma, with this pregnant mom 339 00:26:04.960 --> 00:26:08.680 like did, this event is going to be the event that does not have 340 00:26:08.920 --> 00:26:14.079 enduring a pandemic, and so people aren't going to need a baby or industry. 341 00:26:14.200 --> 00:26:15.599 So we kind of took that whole first month. That was also the 342 00:26:15.640 --> 00:26:21.400 year we were going to learn about physical retail so we could open in a 343 00:26:21.440 --> 00:26:26.640 lot of things right away and our entire team, who we have in ton 344 00:26:26.799 --> 00:26:30.799 of team members with kids and young kids. We're all at home. We 345 00:26:30.279 --> 00:26:33.279 made the right decisions for our team. I was so proud of our team 346 00:26:33.319 --> 00:26:38.000 continuing to function, but it was really we need to learn what's happening and 347 00:26:38.039 --> 00:26:42.240 we need to understand what's actually changed for our users and if you really think 348 00:26:42.240 --> 00:26:47.200 about, like what content and audience and community means to us, we were 349 00:26:47.200 --> 00:26:51.960 also we had this very engaged audience and they were going through a pandemic and 350 00:26:52.000 --> 00:26:55.200 they were about to give birth, and so our team, like, was 351 00:26:55.240 --> 00:27:00.720 also able to absolutely write the best content for our users who are going through 352 00:27:00.759 --> 00:27:04.319 this time. How to have a virtual baby shower of like what is going 353 00:27:04.359 --> 00:27:10.200 to happen in the hospital in this pandemic, like what's changed, like how 354 00:27:10.200 --> 00:27:15.240 do you have virtual birthing clads classes, and so our team really responded in 355 00:27:15.279 --> 00:27:19.480 this incredibly audience centric way. But we really did see coming out of March, 356 00:27:19.559 --> 00:27:23.240 like a lot of online retailer stood, was this huge Tel went. 357 00:27:23.799 --> 00:27:27.480 It was, I think, driven because people wanted to be more helpful to 358 00:27:27.519 --> 00:27:32.359 the families who were having babies. People, I think we're more likely to 359 00:27:32.400 --> 00:27:36.200 get you things you really needed from your registry. People were more likely to 360 00:27:36.240 --> 00:27:41.559 buy them online, and so this gift giving actually increased and when we look 361 00:27:41.599 --> 00:27:47.039 at all of our engagement metrics, they all actually went up to like new 362 00:27:47.119 --> 00:27:52.200 levels that we had never seen before. And so I would say for the 363 00:27:52.240 --> 00:27:55.359 rest of two thousand and twenty, it was really about our team just hanging 364 00:27:55.440 --> 00:28:00.759 on to this growth we were seeing while everyone was at home kind of dealing 365 00:28:00.839 --> 00:28:06.720 with like everything we are all dealing with with our individual families. What is 366 00:28:06.759 --> 00:28:11.319 one thing that you would change about fit your capital? I think venture capital's 367 00:28:11.480 --> 00:28:18.319 Great. I think the thing I would change is probably outside of venture capital. 368 00:28:18.359 --> 00:28:25.000 I think with venture capital that announcement of we raised money from this investor 369 00:28:25.079 --> 00:28:29.359 it, you get the PR from it, you get the hiring bump from 370 00:28:29.440 --> 00:28:33.960 it, you and invited to the conferences, like it really shies this external 371 00:28:33.000 --> 00:28:37.640 signifier that you are hot company, you know what's going on, you're going 372 00:28:37.680 --> 00:28:41.000 to be a great business or you already are a great business. And like 373 00:28:41.160 --> 00:28:44.839 I think all of that, all of that's great. I would say, 374 00:28:44.880 --> 00:28:51.160 as really the company that was the bootstraft company, like you're making money, 375 00:28:51.400 --> 00:28:56.079 you're getting bigger, like that. Actual the substance is really there. I 376 00:28:56.079 --> 00:29:02.559 think just having a place actually where we celebrate those businesses more like is actually 377 00:29:02.599 --> 00:29:06.240 the thing that I would change. Totally agree. Actually, you should be 378 00:29:06.319 --> 00:29:08.640 much more encourage, first of all, like the P word profitability. I 379 00:29:08.640 --> 00:29:12.000 think of that should be a lot more celebrated, and also like looking at 380 00:29:12.000 --> 00:29:17.839 actually revenue and and see how a company's actually performing versus how much money they've 381 00:29:18.079 --> 00:29:21.119 they've raised, and being kind of food and auditor over that. I completely 382 00:29:21.119 --> 00:29:25.759 agree with you. What's one book that is inspired you personally? What both 383 00:29:25.880 --> 00:29:30.960 inspired you professionally? Professionally, I think I read it about a year ago 384 00:29:30.000 --> 00:29:34.839 and it was recommended to me by another CEO. It was no rules, 385 00:29:36.000 --> 00:29:41.680 rules by Redis, things about Netflix and their culture. Have you read it? 386 00:29:41.920 --> 00:29:44.119 I have not. Actually I think it. When I read it, 387 00:29:44.200 --> 00:29:45.880 I think I was like Oh, like, I'm a pretty good CEO, 388 00:29:47.160 --> 00:29:49.119 like I know what's going on, I know how to boilt this business. 389 00:29:49.279 --> 00:29:53.119 I like we have a good culture and I read that Book and it was 390 00:29:53.240 --> 00:30:00.279 this DEP illustration of how to just have a really strong culture, what the 391 00:30:00.319 --> 00:30:03.960 tradeoffs and it really to me, I guess at that time it was like 392 00:30:03.000 --> 00:30:07.960 there is an entirely different level of like how I want to grow, like 393 00:30:08.200 --> 00:30:11.599 I actually could see this like new level of like what it meant to be 394 00:30:11.640 --> 00:30:15.880 a company leader. I would highly recommend it. I may make that like 395 00:30:15.960 --> 00:30:22.440 a professional and personal example. I read a personally. I recently read dear 396 00:30:22.519 --> 00:30:26.880 sugar, its an online advice calm and there's an anthology. It's by Sheryl 397 00:30:27.000 --> 00:30:33.880 Strait and it was like absolutely touching, wonderful and all levels. I highly 398 00:30:33.880 --> 00:30:36.519 recommended. That's awesome. That's awesome. You know, it's funny, I 399 00:30:36.559 --> 00:30:40.119 don't think we've actually had a past guest mentioned either of these books. So 400 00:30:40.200 --> 00:30:44.319 you are very original, Natalie. So a really excited added these for our 401 00:30:44.319 --> 00:30:47.759 book list. But I found a question to you well, on advice. 402 00:30:48.079 --> 00:30:51.680 What is? What's what piece of advice that you have for founders? Oh, 403 00:30:51.720 --> 00:30:56.640 I thought you're going to say for new parents. That too, that 404 00:30:56.759 --> 00:31:00.319 too, I could use it. I can use it, I think in 405 00:31:00.519 --> 00:31:06.880 fice I could really give myself. And it actually comes from the place of 406 00:31:06.920 --> 00:31:11.920 like not necessarily are like level of success, but it actually comes from like 407 00:31:11.000 --> 00:31:15.400 this being such a long game. This has been like a decade plus for 408 00:31:15.480 --> 00:31:18.799 me. I really want to continue to learn in this job and leave this 409 00:31:18.880 --> 00:31:25.680 company, and it actually is that, like relationships are long, that you're 410 00:31:25.720 --> 00:31:29.920 going to have a chance to make that business decision again. It's really having 411 00:31:29.880 --> 00:31:33.319 Anna long term outlook. I think has made me a better leader and it's 412 00:31:33.359 --> 00:31:37.400 something I didn't have at the beginning because I didn't have the context of what 413 00:31:37.640 --> 00:31:41.240 ten years actually feels like. Natalie, thank you so much for coming on 414 00:31:41.279 --> 00:31:42.960 the show. This is a lot of fun, and you so much, 415 00:31:44.000 --> 00:31:45.599 Mike. And there you have it. It was a pleasure trying to with 416 00:31:45.720 --> 00:31:48.839 Natalie. I hope you all enjoyed. If you enjoyed this episode, I 417 00:31:48.960 --> 00:31:52.039 love it if you'd read a review on the apple podcast. You're also welcome 418 00:31:52.079 --> 00:31:56.119 to follow me your host, Mike, on twitter at Mike Guelb, and 419 00:31:56.160 --> 00:32:19.759 also follow for episode announcements at Consumer VC. Thanks for listening, everyone,