Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jessica Kuriyama, Co-Founder of Borrow Me Baby, located in North Vancouver, BC, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Borrow Me Baby is a parent-to-parent baby gear rental community. Created by moms for other parents and primary caregivers just like ourselves, our mission is to create a sustainable online social network that supports families by saving them time, money, and energy as they navigate the challenges of parenthood. We do this by connecting parents in local communities to lend and borrow the most sought-after baby items without the hefty price tag - providing families with the right products at the right time. Our platform handles communications and financial transactions securely and doubles as a community review site to help parents decide what is best for their unique baby and family needs.
We're motivated by our core values of accessibility, inclusion, and sustainability. To foster accessibility, Borrow Me Baby offers both web and mobile-friendly platforms. There are no barriers or fees to join or to list your items. Borrowers can access high-quality baby goods locally and affordably, while Lenders can contribute to their community and recoup the costs of their items when not in use, e.g., between children.
Finally, as a social enterprise, we have partnered with Mamas for Mamas, an organization close to our hearts that supports mothers and caregivers in crisis. In addition to donating 1% of our profits to Mamas for Mamas, our collection of baby goods is available to their clients in need.
Tell us about yourself
The idea for Borrow Me Baby was conceived in the summer of 2021 when I first became a mom. I was overwhelmed with nurturing my baby while also battling exhaustion and anxiety over sleep safety. I looked for products promising safer sleep and a happier baby, only to be sticker-shocked. I tried to find options to rent them locally and affordably without success.
Having identified the need, I set out to help other new parents navigate an overwhelming baby product market along with my co-founder Kerry Campbell. A fellow mom-to-be, Kerry, and I met during our Master of Health Administration (MHA) program at the University of British Columbia and were united in our passion for helping others improve their quality of life and well-being through technology. We realized that our complementary strengths in operations and project management would lead to a strong business partnership. We both have experience in customer engagement and leading successful digital health app launches and are always looking for new opportunities to learn and grow. We were so excited about the idea for Borrow Me Baby that we completed e@UBC's Venture Founder: CORE program for entrepreneurs, which helped us validate our business model with other parents across Canada and the US.
My daily motivation comes directly from my family and my desire to help others within my community. Parenthood is mentally, physically, and financially exhausting, and I'm driven by the desire to foster a social support network that can help make the experience a little easier on all of us - because it truly takes a village!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment would have to be launching Borrow Me Baby while also running after a toddler full-time! As a mompreneur, you have to learn pretty quickly how to be strategic about maximizing nap times and asking for help when you need it. I am also so fortunate to be working alongside my amazing co-founder Kerry, without whom none of this would have been possible (and definitely not completed on schedule!).
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Running both a business and a household (while also being pregnant again) is no joke! It's challenging (next to impossible) to devote 100% of your attention to only one or the other at any given time, and I had to learn to be okay with that. I'm constantly growing and learning how to best balance work and family life - all part of the experience!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Join a program like e@UBC's Venture Founder: CORE to help you hone in on your vision, validate your idea (especially before you start to invest a lot of time and money!), and develop skills that will help take you and your business to the next level.
- Be prepared to bootstrap! Have some personal funds set aside that you can commit to your business to get things off the ground. Investors and other funders like to see that you have some skin in the game, and you never know how long it will take to get that first round of funding.
- Be scrappy and resourceful. Learn some new skills to try and tackle a project on your own and look into hiring student interns through programs like Venture for Canada and Riipen. Through these, we've been able to work with people from diverse backgrounds who helped get us to where we are today!
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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