Brazil, Babies And The Startup That Will Nurture Them Both
Brazil isn’t necessarily a place you think of as a tech startup mecca. After all, nine years ago, only 8 percent of the population of Brazil used the Internet. But, things are changing, hockey stick growth is happening and Brazilian babies are, well, in serious need of an eCommerce site where their parents can find all their baby goods. Thank the Rio heavens for Baby.com.br, a startup that will help do just that. And, investors think so too.
So, who’s behind the site, why Brazil, and how did they land $4.4 million in backing?
The eCommerce Cousins
Kimball Thomas and Davis Smith are the Ivy League cousins (Harvard and UPenn, respectively) who, in 2004, started out to find an interesting market in which to start a business. They loved the idea of Ebay and eCommerce, and they found a disparity in finding discounted pool tables from China online (as one does).
Put these two ideas together and you’ve got PoolTables.com, the largest independent retailer of pool tables in America. The cousins funded the venture straight out of college with only $20K from their own pockets, but turned a profit within a year and in 2011 sold the site for a “nice little profit” according to Davis.
Their success with bootstrapping PoolTables.com and their international eCommerce experience resulted in keen interest from top investors and subsequently some serious backing for their new booming Brazilian baby market enterprise. Investors include:
- Tiger Global Management
- Monashees Capital
- SV Angel
- Felicis Ventures
It all started with a trip to Rio last year. Kimball struggled to find the right kind of diapers for his young son. He realized there was an opportunity in the fragmented Brazilian baby market where no clear leader exists and the demand is high amongst young parents with more disposable income. And, babies.com.br was born.
One such parent, Angelica, who also happens to be a popular Brazilian celeb, is now endorsing the site, bringing even more interest and exposure to the public.
This has led to a surge of visitors to the site, with over 1 million views by their third month. They even shipped 1,000 orders in one day. In only 6 months, the small team has grown to over 100 employees.
That’s a lot of diapers.
But, breaking into the Brazilian market is no easy feat
Brazil’s years of hyperinflation have led to risk-adverse entrepreneurs, workers and consumers alike, making recruitment of talent difficult. And, equity isn’t necessarily a familiar concept in Brazil. Thus, the challenge for potential startups in Brazil is to inspire prospective recruits in creative ways, winning them over with your mission and emphasizing the value of equity.
Still, the babies.com.br team believes the opportunities in the booming eCommerce market in Brazil are worth the challenges. Social media is booming, startup networks are growing and the ecosystem is slowing improving for young startups in the country.
Pool tables to rattles, bachelor pads to nurseries. Interesting transition, but one I’m thinking is going to pay off. I mean the diapers.com guys know what’s up.