Marhababy: Beyond Mom-And-Pop

By Sandhya D'Mello Khaleej Times, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Mompreneur Eveline Sleehboom launched "Marhababy" in 2013. "Marhababy" combines offline marketing with digital media and has a niche target audience of new moms. The company partners with many of the world's biggest and best brands to connect and engage with millennial mothers.

DUBAI

A 'millennial mom' is how Eveline Sleeboom, founder of Marhababy, describes herself. Marhababy is a platform that helps new mothers discover, learn and enjoy the journey of motherhood.

"We do that through free gift boxes with products and samples relevant to your stage of motherhood. We provide honest and fun content and give new mothers a platform to communicate with each other about how it is to be a mom," said Sleeboom.

The business was founded in 2013 by the Dutch female entrepreneur in Dubai while she was expecting her first son. Marhababy is now two-and-half years old and growing up fast. The company now reaches 35 per cent of all new moms in the UAE and launched this year in Saudi Arabia too.

Marhababy combines offline marketing with digital media and has a niche target audience of new moms. The self-funded company partners with many of the world's biggest and best brands to reach business goals.

The company's revenue comes from brands that work with it. "For brands, there is a lot of value in reaching out to, connecting with and engaging millennial mothers at the right times ['point of market entry'], in the right ways [sampling and digital], and -- not to forget -- only with the mother's permission. Our efforts for them result in higher brand awareness, increased market share and ultimately higher sales," added Sleeboom.

Careful spend "We have built the business with our savings and grown it by being frugal and smart with how and where we spend our money. It is always nice to be able to spend money to solve a problem but, depending on your business model, there is a lot that you can achieve without it as well."

The company is now in a position where it is looking at raising capital to accelerate growth. Sleebom is positive about it due to Marhababy's proven business model and scale.

The company has received funding options after its Saudi Arabia launch and winning the Alibaba competition. "The total size of the new mom market in the UAE and Saudi Arabia is 30 per cent of the US market. That is sizeable. For now, our focus is on these markets while our ambition is to grow and expand further," added Sleeboom.

Marhababy is part of the In5 Innovation Centre, an initiative by the UAE government designed to get great ideas in tech and digital media off the ground. "We are supported with our office and company set-up and are able to tap into a great network of entrepreneurs, mentors and investors. We are incredibly thankful for this support because without it, the business wouldn't have been what it is today," said Sleeboom.

Buzzing start-up market "The UAE is a great place to start your business and the start-up industry is getting better by the day. More funding, talent, mentors and advisors are available to help you grow your business. I love the buzz in the market, you can feel there's lots of things cooking."

Sleeboom believes that to get more investors on board, there has to a be a certain click with them. Marhababy would prefer to get investors on board who could help the company realize its vision and accelerate growth. Building a business is the greatest thing and at the same time also the hardest thing. "I founded the business when I became a mom. I grew up using technology like the PlayStation, social media and texting. I later learned that the right term to describe me is a 'millennial mom'.

"What I found was that most of what was available was old-fashioned like styled TV commercials where moms talk in a scripted way about why their laundry detergent is good for your baby. I couldn't relate to it so I thought let's change it and create something more fun for moms like me," Sleeboom said.

Winning the Alibaba contest in Dubai gave the company access to the global finals at the Alibaba headquarters in Hangzhou. Marhababy was one among many global companies with innovative solutions. "We did not win the first prize, but walked away with an 'Honourable Mention'. The Alibaba team gave us a wonderful time there," she concluded.

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