Shark Tank Supermum's Secrets For Success
Coming up with a new way to sell was just the start...
For Caroline Africh, being a mum of three children under the age of five presented its own set of problems, but it was also a pretty amazing reason to start a business from home.
The Sydneysider -- who features on tonight's episode of Shark Tank with her business Things 4 Bubs -- began with a pair of shoe socks from South Korea, and hasn't looked back since.
The socks -- Attipas -- were the first of three great baby products that Caroline has on her books, with a clever device that "shushes" babies to sleep with a man's voice (you'll have to tune into Shark Tank tonight for more of the sharks' hilarious reactions to that one) called The Baby Shusher, and a range of Aussie bamboo baby clothes called Petit Bamboo. All three products spark a heap of interest with the sharks, with Naomi, Andrew and Steve all making offers for a share of the Things 4 Bubs business. Go girl!
Caroline didn't really set out to be a mumpreneur -- she was simply a project- manager-turned-work-from-home mum, with Henry, 6, Oscar, 4, and baby Scarlett, and some good business nouse behind her. "I started with an online business from home, sending orders from my attic," she tells ten daily. "I taught myself digital marketing basically, the Facebook era was starting, and I grew it to a point and then I thought, well imagine if I have 100 mums also selling from home, where could the business go then..."
That business took off -- and then some. Which is how she began her Things 4 Bubs empire -- using at-home consultants who buy product at wholesale cost and sell it on at retail prices. And the entrepreneurial side of her life began in earnest.
I thought about things like, how I could use technology to create a sales funnel, how to give them all the tools they need to sell their products and buy their products, how to create a community -- and I formalised it all."
"We drove our marketing through the digital side, and it exploded -- at the same time I had just had my third child, so life went a bit nuts!" Understandably, she now has four full time employees and husband John manages her books and takes care of the financials.
So for any other budding mumpreneur or indeed anyone who want to be an entrepreneur at any time of life -- what are Caroline's three best tips for success?
"One -- if you have an idea and you're passionate about it then stick with it - don't be deterred if things don't go as you plan, just keep going," she says.
Two -- ignore those that tell you that you can't -- you can always prove them wrong!"
"And three, look at what's doing the best for you and don't keep going in an area that's not making money. You may have to learn to pull the plug in certain areas. We've tried lots of things -- somethings have done well like the consultants model, and others haven't done so well --but we just focus on what is doing well for us and it may not have been what we originally thought."
These days -- after following her own rules -- she has 300 mums on her books, and 700 reseller accounts in total, including 400 bricks and mortar stores, and the business is now worth $1 million, growing by 100% every year.
She's also in talks to sell different brands on top of the three mentioned on the show. "We only want to sell brands we believe in," says Caroline. "For instance, there's a brand called Pee-Jamas -- which is a start up -- they're pyjamas that absorb urine so they help with toilet training at night. They're a US company -- I'm grateful they've offered it to me, I think it will do well here. And we have a lot of other plans -- and we're also going to build an app. There are a lot of exciting changes in the future."
And with the lift that's sure to come from appearing on Shark Tank (as well as the injection of cold hard cash from Andrew!) -- things are only going to get better for the brand. Caroline agrees. "It's given me a whole new perspective on the business and how to take it from a million dollar one to a $10 million dollar one in three years -- that's the goal."
Shark Tank airs 8.45 Tuesdays on TEN and tenplay