How to create a 7 figure startup in less than 12 months with Baby Brew's Founder Alaina Moulton
Joining me on the show today is Alaina Moulton, founder of Baby’s Brew.
The world's first portable bottle warmer. The Baby's Brew was created to solve a very LARGE need for parents who don't want to be tied down by a plug.
And while Alaina only launched a short year ago in July 2019 the brand has been growing exponentially ever since! This year they’ve surpassed 1.3m dollars in revenue and are quickly on track to reaching 3 million in sales very soon!
Please note, this transcript has been copy pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!
Yeah, my name is Elaina and I created a portable bottle warmer for babies. I really just when I was looking, when I had my daughter, you know, I couldn't find a travel solution because we're a military family and when I saw that there wasn't one out there, I was like, I'm gonna make this, I mean it's so cool, it's so nifty. Um and I'm so surprised again like that it was something that didn't already exist. It's like, but how, how come it didn't exist because it's a pain in the butt to make it what it was batteries. Oh gosh, okay, well let's get into that in a second.
00:05:25Edit I want to go back to your life before the Baby's Brew to find out what you were up to what you were doing and what kind of gave you the inspiration to get started. Yeah. So my background, I've had a lot to do with how we got started. I went to college for the programming and end up going into marketing because I don't know why it's a job I got handed at the time and then actually started, I've only worked for startup companies. So when I was in college I worked for a startup, I got out of college, I worked for a startup. I just started seeing like I was too scared to do it myself and then working for the startup. Really kind of gave me that courage. I never thought I would become a business owner? I had no desire to become a business owner. Like I said, just watching these people, they're just normal day to day people creating something that growing into what it is. I'm like, okay, I can definitely do this. Especially with my last job I was I just started off as a marketing intern and then work my whipped the marketing director very quickly. The barking just kind of clicked for me.
00:06:27Edit I knew how to do S. E. O. I just really got grove into it, learning how to do stuff. And when I saw the results I could do for these companies, I was like, okay, I'm gonna try to do my own thing. And after very many failed attempts at small businesses, I found this and then that's when I really pushed for it. What kind of startups have you tried before? That hadn't gone to plan? Oh it was, I got my first cricket machine and I wanted to start, you know, doing t shirts. And so I cut my designs out and do that and that's what I kind of learned with etc. Etc. Etc. It was really when my mom was talking my mom one time and she was like, you know, you're never gonna make a real business unless you create an item because making like T shirts, it's so time consuming for me and the person, you have to have something already kind of made to become a business. And so that's when I really started digging down into it, like what can I make?
00:07:31Edit And of course that's the scary part because there's so much money involved in that and you're like, well I could just buy these t shirts and some vinyl and have a business but to create a product cost so much money. Yeah, yeah. And you you need to build something that has the moat around it that isn't easily replicable and exactly copied. Yeah. Because all I see is a bunch of copy t shirts. So how did you land on the idea? How did you come up with the idea for babies brew? What led you down the route of baby products? So I was right after I had got pregnant the first time. Um I end up miss caring but when I was pregnant I got put on better rest immediately and I couldn't do anything. And I kind of started started in my baby registry, getting all this stuff ready because my first kid and we're a military family. So we always travel, no one lived near us. We knew we were going to be traveling as soon as the baby turned two months old and I always knew I wanted to bottle feed and breastfeed at the same time my husband could be involved but I was trying to find you know some solution how to warm a bottle on the airplane because it's a four or five hour flight.
00:08:39Edit My closest family members and I was personally was not comfortable breastfeeding on a plane. So I knew one of the bottle situation and I couldn't find anything was like how is there not a battery powered bottle warmer or at least some type of way to warm it like when you're traveling. And that's when I really started diving into it. And you know, I started buying manufacturers and talking to him and that's when I found out battery is a huge thing. You know, we just kind of worked together with my, I have a great manufacturer and they helped me a lot to the process. And then I also took a bunch of course is to that really helped me figure out this whole situation on how to create a problem. Probably like 30 different courses. Oh my gosh really, wow, okay, I want to dig into that. But I want to go back to the manufacturing and why is it so difficult to produce products with batteries? I didn't know that. I had no idea that. Well the big thing is so batteries, when you're shipping them, you have to have specific labels you put on the box because ever since that phone exploded on the airplane on a few years ago, the lithium ion batteries.
00:09:49Edit They actually section off any batteries are being shipped their own section and say if you don't put that sticker on there and something happens and I'm going to find there's a lot of shipping restrictions and then creating heat, it takes so much energy that you have to have a certain type of battery that's not going to overheat, it's gonna stay On longer. I mean our first prototype, it stayed on for maybe 45 minutes and I was like, that's not, this isn't gonna help anybody. And it was just a lot trying to figure out the battery to heat ratio. And so how did you build like the prototype and how did you find the manufacturers in the first place? I actually took a course on founder and it was Greta than always get her name wrong. I want to go through, She's the starting scale one though and she literally, she's a friend of mine, she, yeah, she's the one who am actually, I took that one really kind of like pushed me off and she shows you like how to go find manufacturers and how to go do this.
00:10:52Edit And actually she said to go from Alibaba, why went on there and found someone who was making batteries and kind of started talking to them and that's how I got started and they're like, okay, this is how batteries work. And they kind of explain that whole situation to me and then we just slowly started integrating like heating elements and I have my own engineer over there now and now we have a whole image, a whole team of engineers because we have a whole line of products being made now and it's just they're so helpful. Honestly I think I looked out really well with my manufacturer because literally I throw an idea at them and they're like all right, we'll get our meeting and they'll have a white board up like this is what we're gonna do and this is how we're gonna do it and then we just go back and forth and it's something really quick and some things are not, wow, that's so exciting. And so I always like to know in the beginning when you were placing the first order, like how many units did you have to buy? And what kind of capital did you need to get started? That was probably the scariest moment of my life.
00:11:53Edit Was that first order? Alright yeah. Uh I told my husband, I'm like we're just gonna do 500 units and if it doesn't work out we're gonna shove, it I'm not gonna sit here and be one of those people, they're gonna keep buying and hoping it works. So we bought 500 units And I used a lot of my own money but we took our first one and I was like $5,000 it was but that was like I'm gonna be paying this off for years sucks if this doesn't work out, but we got the units in and we launched on Kickstarter And then we sold out in two weeks. Oh my gosh, I have all the 500 units. Oh wow, the Kickstarter did not do well. We only think we did like 5000 which is our goal, but nothing like some of my friends who did pictures and did like a million and I'm like, well that wasn't me. Sorry, well why do you think it didn't work as well as you have kind of well, you know better than you had anticipated? A lot of people had said that baby products don't do as well and kick starters, especially like unheard of things like my friend, she was on there but she had a hip carrier.
00:13:01Edit I mean there's nothing much, you can say that prayer doesn't work. My bottle warmer. I mean there could be as tech like that could probably not work or that could hurt my breast milk or there's no proof that there's no social proof that this works and it was such a high price. But I think it scared people off but as soon as we launched on our website as when it took off, which was kind of crazy in a sense. But I did like my, my background is marketing so I did crazy amounts of SEO work before we even launched And so we were like one so for google mainly. So we were, my main goal was to get, you know the top pages of my top keywords, each keyword has different mounts, search results? So for example, my top keywords are portable bottle warmer, general bottle warmer, which is the hardest. There's a few other ones and I just went through and I put my schema markups and I, you know, maybe there's all all text on all the images, all the meta descriptions that are kind of the big three ones.
00:14:07Edit And then I started the blog, blogs are huge in google right now. So I actually have a blog writer who's been with me for years. She actually was with me before on all my previous adventures and now she works for me full time. She's like the best, she's a mom to uh yeah, she just pushes, pushes out blog posts, you know, a few of a week and they only go in there and do the schema markup and go to google search console. And I think that's what really pushed us because now when you know someone googles in portable bottle warmer were the first ones that show up and that's how I kind of search for my baby products, like what's that best bottle warmer and we're like the number 11. So you go, oh that must be the best one. Got it right. And I guess once you identified that your product was really like something that, you know, it was important for people who were searching to pop up, you're able to really knuckle down and focus on that? What else were you doing when you were launching? Um, At the time that you launched in 2019, what else were you doing? I did a lot of influencers thanks to Greta, she, I loved her method, I love, I think going through and drilling down how she explained, you know, look at the engagement rate, look at the comments because, you know, you can get scammed left and right all day long on instagram and really finding the right influencer was huge for us.
00:15:30Edit And then I became friends with these influencers and so some of them started off small when I launch, but I've been friends with them for so long. They're just friends for me now and I'm like, hey, like we're doing a restock or we're doing a sale, Do you mind posting and they'll just do it for free at this point, there's like, yeah, we support you, they're all moms are all entrepreneurs. So, influencers are definitely a big one for us to, and just really building those friendships with these people and not even just influencers, brands like I have a whole group of 40 moms that we all just sit there and help each other and a lot of them have bigger followings or smaller followings, we're starting, we're in like we're in all different places, which helps a ton, wow, that's so amazing. And I'm sure it's just such a nice community to be in and all, kind of going through these learnings together when you talk about your influencer marketing? Like how many people did you try and push the word out through when you got started? So we started off with as many influencers as we could. We did anyone that would do it for free or product trade or that we could afford.
00:16:36Edit So definitely micro influencers, you know, ones that were below 100 we definitely, they would send us these crazy pricing is like, hey, you know, I'm just starting out, I don't have that marketing budget and I'll give them my whole spiel and usually they were really receptive were like, no, no worries. You know, we'll do it for this price for your first one. Everyone was for the most part extremely nice and really helpful, wow, I love that. Yeah, I find when I talk to women about influencer marketing, it's definitely hit and miss. Some people really see the results and some people are able to be like, yeah, you know, we had content, we had sales like it was a real clear R. O. I. But then there are women who are like, you know, I invested thousands of dollars and I had a tumbleweed kind of thing, so it's such a tough one and it's cool to hear that your product obviously really resonates with the audience is that they have and I imagine like the community of mommy bloggers is you know, really like where moms go to find recommendations because how else do you find recommendations if you don't have like friends who are pregnant at the time and that kind of thing.
00:17:45Edit I want to talk About what marketing is working for you now. I read that you had done you know over $1 million $3 million. Which is just absolutely insane. And I want to understand better what's really driving that growth. That's significant growth that you're having. Yeah. So our number one revenue right now is google organic. So that's basically free sales and that had a lot to do with the S. E. O. Honestly I cannot talk more about S. E. O. Is the that's free sales. That's going to get you all the money in your pocket without paying a single dime. It takes time. So if I implement something today you're not going to see a result from it, maybe three months, four months, six months. But imagine when we started and now we are, we're number one almost on every keyword we're taking. We're above amazon target everyone on some of these key words because our blogs the blog is what is really driving that traffic. So some of our best ones is Top 10 bottle warmer.
00:18:48Edit Sure heating breast milk and that's what really pushed it up and that's where number one like I said above target or amazon when I got about the amazon about crying, I'm like oh my gosh I didn't think that was even possible, wow. Yeah. That's crazy. So amazing, wow. Good for you. Yeah. And I want to talk about, you mentioned the courses, you've done like 30 courses, what other kinds of courses do did you do? And what do you recommend? I mean I live strong by the starting scale. Um the founder ones are really good, the Instagram one, but starting scale with Greta, I love how she started her business and it was really helpful for me. And then they just came with that new Master E course which I'm in the middle of which my sister works for me now too and I made her go through it. She's taken over email marketing. So I was like go take these courses and then come back to me. She took over the influencers to and I make all the people that work for me that are doing those things take Greta's course, honestly.
00:19:50Edit So I'm gonna own it just got to log in, take it real quick. Uh One of the some of the o Neil Patel Neil Patel has a really good one, that's how you do the S. E. O. Uh he's being very limited now on who gets in it. But I know you can get on a wait list for it if you want to know how to do S. C. O. From nothing to expert, that is where he shows you step by step. Like if you're in shape if I click here and put the schema code here and it's very helpful especially if you have no idea how to do it. Mm wow. I didn't know, I mean I know that he had a course but I didn't know you know the ins and outs of it. Is it expensive? It's a little bit more than the Greta's. I think it was 1200 But its every year is 1200. So it is more expensive because it's for the founder is a one time fee for him. It's every year but you really don't need it every year. Not that much changes once you have that basis of everything you need you can go to like search engine journal. There's all these S. E. O. Forums that will just keep you up to date on it or what I use is called Sim rush dot com and that's how I track everything Google organic wise.
00:21:03Edit Got it right. Going to note that down. And so where are you today with the business? And what's coming? What is new on the horizon? Yeah. So we've actually done a way better this year than we have ever expected. We're already over two million. About 23 million right now. So your weight above are expected projections, wow that's so cool with one product which is blowing my mind. But I guess there's a lot of people out there. Yes. So we are coming out with a snack cup situation. I wanted something easy and small for growing. I love the feeding aspect of our company. So we'll have, it's a snack cup that it converts to a sippy cup as well and it folds all the way down. It's compact. We have a bull, a heating bowl. So when they're on baby food and you have to keep the baby food chilled, you actually put it into this little bowl and it heats it up on the go. It's all battery powered as well. And then we have a portable sterilizer which we've been working on for two years now. So I actually started sterilized at the same time, I started the warmer.
00:22:08Edit But that's that kind of went crazy whenever Covid happened because we couldn't get parts anymore because everyone was making sterilizers. But that's also going to be completely battery powered. It's really cool how they did it though. It it probably looks like two or three inches tall and it's seven inches long, but it's got a silicone in it. So it falls all the way up and you put the bottles and pacifiers in and then you say it sterilized and you can fold all the way back flat again and it just fits into your diaper bag. Oh my gosh, that's so cool, very nifty. It sounds like you've got a lot of moving parts, You're developing new products. You obviously just shifted warehouse into this huge space with all of this stuff going on. What are the biggest challenges that you face at the moment, trying to grow this brand even bigger and scale it even even larger. I mean number one issue is always money and inventory the more, for example, you know, we're growing so fast. I keep doubling our orders of inventory, but the double, it obviously even more money and we have growing pains for, for example, moving into the new warehouse, we not only have to move in there, we had to buy thousands of dollars worth of shelving and computers and desks and there was lots of money going lots of places.
00:23:24Edit But I still needed to increase my inventory purchase as well and also developing new products, cost money. So it all goes down to money in the end. I was just doing, you know, personal loans for myself through light stream, but they will only let you go up so much. It was a really low interest rates. It was nice because if you're not in business for a year, it's really hard to get capital unless you do like a venture capital. And I just really, I've looked into investors, almost had an investor and I backed out last minute. It's just mr scare me. But I ended up finding, I really, really love this company is called way fire and they're actually, oh my God, I was just gonna say it. Yeah. And then by going going uh they're in Ireland I love them. I love my irish boys. You know the first, the first loan, you know, takes a little bit of they connect your store, your facebook ad your google ads. And I really like how they did that because they can straight see okay, you know, you're, she's bringing in this, her as our converting like this.
00:24:28Edit They don't need to run my credit every single time to do this. That's not hurting me on a personal level anymore. It's not even hurting my company. They say okay, you know you're doing this, you're allowed this and it's they negotiate with you too. So you know, we start off with this higher interest rate and you know, it was like uh you know, I really wanted this but you can take a higher percentage of my cells each day and we worked on a really good deal. And I love how they don't, you have to make a payment on, they just automatically take it out of your store. So they're like what were you comfortable with taking out? And so right now they're taking 24% and when my loans almost paid off and spend a month and a half. I mean it's so good, isn't it? I really love how they do it on Shopify capital does it? But their interest rates are insane and they're not going to work with you Um good at one small when we first started with them and I was like man, it's like 11% interest. That's insane. Yeah. I've heard that from someone else before as well that um Shopify versus Way fly was just not comparable.
00:25:33Edit Not at all. And the fact that they work with you, the first one that's like going to be a little bit higher and straight just your first time with them and they will even say your next loan, they're going to be smaller. The next one's gonna be this especially if you're referring to their people and they're just easy to work with and you know I just shot over kind of our bank account statements and that was it. They're like all right you're approved for this. So you can they give you a whole list of options and which one you want. I don't know. It was the best experience I've had with a loan situation yet. Yeah. We, my husband works with them as well for some of his clients and so I've been on the phone, I've had some calls with this lovely guy named Patrick and I just feel like they're so lovely. He always sends me women who are part of like the way flyer community to interview and that kind of thing. So yeah, shout out to them. They're so amazing. They are. I love them. What advice do you have for women who have a big idea and want to launch their own business? I would definitely, the validation part is necessary as much as it seems tedious.
00:26:42Edit You know, people come to me all the time now that I have my business and like, what do you think about this idea and this idea? I was like, well I'm one opinion. I'm not the whole world. I may think something is dumb, but someone else might think it's cool. I remember I went to all my friends with this idea and they're like, I would never buy that. That's dumb. I was like, okay. So I actually, yeah, now they all all own one, which is really funny. But what I did, I actually had my prototype. I know this is like a little late, my validation process, but I had a prototype and I went and walked around the san Diego mall when I lived over there and I would make sure to like pull it out when I was next to a baby or something and I had my baby and I'd be like, you know, doing a little bit. So what's that? And I would tell them and then for that. So cool. I'm gonna buy that. And I just went around with my prototype and you know, every mom pretty much asked me, especially at restaurants, you know, to have it out and I said, I don't like the table where everyone can see it and every genius.
00:27:46Edit Everyone, what's that And you kind of get the reaction from people like okay well that's that's okay but not everyone and that's when I really we're like okay I'm gonna buy this now, I'm going to spend the money on inventory and push for it, jump in the deep end. You know? So scary. Yes. I bet it was so scary that that heart sinking moment where you're like oh please work. We are up to the six quick questions at the end of the interview. I'm super excited. Question. Number one is what's your why? My wife, I was really I was working you know 50 60 hours a week and I was never home with my daughter and which really sucked before her, I could work that and could care less my husband military so he's gone whatever. But really when I had my daughter I was just like I'm missing all this stuff, my nanny is send me pictures of her doing all her first and I was just like I can't do this anymore. I've got to find a way to work for myself and have that time with her and she comes to work with me all the time now which is great but love that.
00:28:59Edit It was definitely my daughter, it was my why and pushed me and I would have never taken those risks if I didn't have that motivation, oh how special. That's so nice question. Number two is what's been the number one marketing moment that's made your business pop. Uh my marketing moment, it's a funny one. So I always thought about S. E. O. But my real marketing pop was when Shawn johnson posted just randomly. Um I don't know if you know her. She's a one of the olympic people who she's married to the quarterback of a football team. I don't watch football that much. Okay. But she's got multiple millions followers. And just randomly she someone asked her her favorite bottle warmer and she posted about us And it really just, we've got like hundreds of messages one morning and they're like Shawn Johnson just posted about you. We woke up with like $15,000 in sales. Which was nuts. That wasn't a that's not a long lasting marketing thing though. That was like an immediate, oh my gosh but it got the word out really quickly too.
00:30:04Edit So influencer was definitely are short term and then ceo is our long term. Well that is incredible waking up to that kind of those kind of numbers in the bank account from a few hours. Did you work to build a relationship with her after that? I did um She didn't she actually bought the unit herself and she didn't want money. She did it all just organically and she was more so I didn't want to promote baby products for money. She only wanted to promote what she liked. So she's supposed to a few times about it. But it's all just like up to her, The only thing she promotes is, you know, like she promotes home chef for little things that don't revolve around baby. Well I guess that makes it even better though because it's truly organic and it's truly something that like you said that she likes, so it makes it even better, makes it a true endorsement that a few like that. one of the other cool ones was J Lo, jennifer Lopez, her dance choreographer. She ran, we just reached out to us and she was like, oh I would love to try this, We have another one.
00:31:15Edit she was on the price is right with Drew Carey, she's like one of the girls on there, so she actually got around all the famous people, so all this kind of stuff is just organic, which is kind of weird, but it worked out, I mean, you know you're doing something right, if people are organically picking up your product and shouting about it to their communities, that is so awesome. That's my favorite Question # three is where do you hang out to get smarter? What are you listening to reading? I love the entrepreneur podcast, honestly, I really like Rachel Hollis right now because she kind of brings me down to earth because I can be kind of high strung sometimes and her saying, you know, calm down is how you're going to have a business, works how to deal with stress, how to deal with pressure. This is all new to me too, like I'm learning how to do all this myself and now I'm managing a whole team, which I've never really kind of done and all these different departments and I really like the, I read everything to Renee Brown, Rachel Hollis is really my big one right now.
00:32:24Edit I really like her. I'm going to check her out and start listening. A saP question number four is how do you win the day and that's around your am and PM rituals that keep you feeling happy and successful and motivated and productive. I really like to get up early. Not that I always do, I try, I try to get up early, you know, spend some time with myself in the morning. So with that being reading and listening to my podcast, sometimes I run, but before my daughter and my husband get up, it's really important to me and I can get get myself started and if I can't do that in the morning, I do it in the afternoons. So my husband, I will work together as parents. So you know, I'll drop her off in the morning, he fixed her up. So if I don't get that done in the morning, I make sure to go do it at home before he picks her up and you know, we communicate like, hey, I need an extra hour, can you go play with her in the park. Yeah, well he's so, yeah, no problem about go grabber. So I think having my me time to calm down from everything that goes on in a chaotic life in the morning or in the afternoon is really essential to being productive too.
00:33:37Edit Yeah. To being able to like get back in the ring the next day and keep going. Yeah, because some days are hard. I mean this past week we had that hurricane, we had inventory which is three weeks late and then we got the inventory. Finally it was the wrong inventory or they were supposed to bring it on a truck with a lift gates. We don't have a forklift and they didn't. So we had to like run. I mean there was just like everything that could have gone wrong went wrong. But I think just dealing with the situation at time is what? Okay, this is this problem. Let's fix it. Don't stress about the next one. Just keep moving. I call. I tell everyone my whole job every day is to put out one fire in time. All day long. That's the true job of an entrepreneur. That's for sure. Question. Number five is if you only had $1000 left in your business bank account, where would you spend it inventory? I guess if you know you'll sell it. That's the way you've got to put it.
00:34:41Edit I think it's only going to make money as you have something to sell. Yeah, that's so true, So true. And last question is how do you deal with failure? And that can be around a personal experience that you've had or just your general mindset and approach when I see a failure, I tried to embrace it as a learning experience. So like I said, this is our first time we got pallets in, you know, that was a whole learning experience and it was an absolute failure coming in. So I go to my manufacturer, my my shipping coming in like how are we gonna make this better? We can make this more organized. You know, see that there's going to be a failure. There's gonna be mistakes every single day of your life and with employees and just sitting down with the situation and figuring out how to fix the failure. And instead of ignoring it is how I really deal with it. I don't just like let it blow off and say it won't happen again. You know, we need to address it, we need to figure out how to fix it and you know, implement new things that we need to to make it better. I love that.
00:35:43Edit I forgot to ask you, how big is your team. Now we have six people that work in the warehouse, not including me and we have five customer service girls. They're all over. They're all remote. We're all military spouses or um military daughters were all affiliated with the military somehow. And then we have, you know, our pr girl, we have our marketing company been quite a few and it just keeps getting bigger and better. We actually just hired three more people in for the warehouse because it's just every day it gets more and more and more. And so we're just, everyone's just playing catch up. But it's really nice. We're all militaries, we all understand everything together. Like if someone needs to be out because of some reason with their husband, no one gets mad at each other, which is really nice for us. Well, that sounds a really nice, great team culture. It really is. And I forced everyone on a team meeting on monday. So I'm like, y'all have some issues, but then when another argue it out here and fix it, let's get it on the table.
00:36:48Edit I love that. Elena, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to be on the female startup club podcast today. I have loved meeting you and learning about your brand. Thank you for having me. It's been fun.