The baby product market is big business. As is the gadget industry. So why not combine the two? That is exactly what husband-and-wife, Darren and Alex Sher have done with their start-up, GadgetBaby.
The website sells the latest baby and toddler products from around the world, be it a child-proof doorstop or baby-food dispensing spoon.
Launched in May, GadgetBaby is Mr Sher’s third venture. He previously set up SnipReels, an online platform for people in the media industry to upload their showreels. He sold it to the Daily Mail Group (DMG) in 2008. He continues to work for the Group as a product development manager for its Jobsite Group.
He also set up CompareDownload, believed to be the first online music download comparison site, which was voted by The Times as the third best music website in the UK. But the birth of his daughter Olivia inspired him to establish GadgetBaby, together with Alex, who works on the venture full-time.
Mr Sher, 32, says: “I’ve always been a bit of a techie and would often be looking for the latest baby gadgets for our daughter, but there was no single place where you could find everything.
“We went to Miami and there was a lady on the plane using a screw-on spoon that attached directly to a food pouch, enabling you to feed your baby with one-hand. We thought it was a really good product. We then saw loads of other great stuff in Miami, which inspired us to set up the site.” He adds: “We wanted to set something up that Alex could run, allowing her to do flexible hours.”
According to the Financial Times and market research company Mintel, the UK baby and nursery products market is worth around £750 million and predicted to rise by a fifth to £900 million by 2015. Mothercare is the largest specialist retailer but has been hit by online competition, recording an £18.5 million loss for the six months to June 31. Tesco, Boots, John Lewis and Wm Morrison have all entered the market.
As for the gadget industry, sales of consumer gadgets are expected to top $1 trillion for the first time this year, according to GfK Boutique Research and the Consumer Electronics Association.
Popular GadgetBaby products include a childproof waterproof iPad case, a scoop that automatically counts formula powder for you, a screw-on spoon and an aesthetically pleasing counter-top drying rack for bottles. GadgetBaby is also believed to be the only business in the UK to import and sell a magnetic bib that prevents mess when feeding. Prices range from £4.00 to £200 with the average product priced at around £20.
The duo, who run the business from their home in Borehamwood, Herts, acknowledge that Facebook has been a valuable traffic driver to the site, with around 80 per cent of sales coming directly from mobile phones, significantly higher than the national average.