A baby-prod­uct e-tailer that goes be­yond just selling

Finweek English Edition - - ENTREPRENEUR - BY JON PIEN­AAR AND MANDY DE WAAL

No mat­ter how many birth classes you’ve at­tended, or baby books you’ve read, noth­ing can quite pre­pare you for the life-chang­ing event that is hav­ing a child.

Hav­ing a baby can be very costly and stress­ful: you only want the best for your child, but how do you know if you’re do­ing the right thing?

Mil­i­tary man turned en­tre­pre­neur, James Townsend-Rose was study­ing for his MBA in 2011 when his baby was born. At the time he had left the UK army, and wanted to start his own busi­ness.

“Be­ing a new fa­ther steered me to­wards t he par­ent­ing i ndustr y – prob­a­bly be­cause I was spend­ing so much money – I thought this was a huge op­por­tu­nity,” he says. He saw a real open­ing in e-com­merce. “It’s su­per con­ve­nient,” he en­thuses, list­ing the ad­van­tages that online re­tail of­fers moms and dads: “Par­ent­ing is an ex­pen­sive pe­riod and e-com­merce prices can be more keen.” Online stores don’t need to have brick-and-mor­tar out­lets, which al­lows them to be a lot more nim­ble in the way they do busi­ness. The big con­ve­nience, of course, is that new moms get the items they want de­liv­ered di­rectly to their front doors.

Baby­Group was started in 2012, with a fo­cus on dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing it­self through ser­vice: a per­son­alised touch, i ndi­vid­ual at ten­tion and a st rong com­mu­nity. Townsend-Rose main­tains that Baby­Group’s great­est dif­fer­en­tia­tors are cus­tomer ex­cel­lence, com­mu­nity and con­tent. From the start the online store’s fo­cus was mas­ter­ing so­cial media in gen­eral and Face­book in par­tic­u­lar.

Be­fore f ound­ing Baby Group, Townsend-Rose spent six years in the Cav­alry Di­vi­sion (which is the tank di­vi­sion) of the Bri­tish Ter­ri­to­rial Army. He did tours in Iraq at the height of the Iraqi War, fol­lowed by a com­bat tour in Afghanistan. But when he met his wife-to-be, Townsend-Rose de­cided to change ca­reers. He had joined the army for ad­ven­ture, travel and an out­doorstype ca­reer, but the prospect of mar­riage and chil­dren made him much more riska­verse.

Af­ter their wed­ding, Townsend-Rose and his wife took a year off to have an “ad­ven­ture” – driv­ing from Eng­land to South Africa by car. Once the bride and groom got to Botswana, Townsend-Rose had de­cided to broaden his ed­u­ca­tion with an MBA, and en­rolled at the

James Townsend-Rose says good, clear com­mu­ni­ca­tion is the grease that helps the wheels of busi­ness turn smoothly.

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