When Durban-based Shanéy and Vije Vijendranath became parents in 2012, they realised how tough it was to access advice and information on raising a child and what products to buy.
From this problem was born a solution – the couple’s startup You, Baby and I, a marketing company launched in 2014 that that specialises in helping mothers connect with one another through personal stories of motherhood.
Mothers are able to connect with other mothers via the platform, looking for recommendations on their needs or finding events relevant to them. The company also helps brands connect with mothers for marketing exposure.
“When we became parents we realised how difficult it was to get advice in the new life of parenthood and of course the plethora of products out there that can be very overwhelming at first,” managing director Vije tells Disrupt Africa.
“Therefore, You, Baby and I was born, focused on mothers as they are predominantly involved in the buying decisions of a family.”
The discovery that parents become overwhelmed when they have their first baby, and lack advice and the ability to experience products before they buy, is at theheart of You, Baby and I.
“Parents end up spending too much and can reduce the perception of their brand experience. Another gap we discovered was brands had a tough time getting the attention of busy mothers and it would often cost too much to market directly,” Vije says.
It has been a success. The couple used angel funding from family and friends to build the first website, and is now profitable and using revenues – from brand marketing campaigns – to expand the company. It has started doing international campaigns, and hit 100,000 monthly visitors in March. It was also recently chosen to take part in the Seedstars World South African final, where it will pitch for the chance to travel to Switzerland to compete for up to US$1 million in funding.
Vije says though You, Baby and I’s major market is South Africa, the company is currently busy expanding into the United States (US). There, the startup will have to overcome the same issues with trust it first faced in South Africa.
“Our niche is not to market directly but to rather to build a rapport with mothers, thus it initially took a very long time to build traction,” he says. “This type of service is also quite new in South Africa and thus has been difficult to secure funding.”