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DTC Leaders Series: Mamamade Co-Founder, Ian Baron (2022)

The DTC brands we serve are the lifeblood of our business, and all the content we create is designed to inspire and empower Ecommerce businesses. With this in mind, we’re happy to launch our new DTC leaders series, profiling the pioneers, decision makers and great thinkers at the heart of brands.

To kick this series off, we’re speaking with Ian Baron, Co-Founder of Mamamade.

Mamamade creates healthy and homemade meals for babies and toddlers. The brand was born in 2020 when parents Sophie Meislin and Ian Baron were juggling the demands of daily life with feeding their newborn nutritious meals.

Clearly they were not alone because in two short years, Meislin and Baron have sold over 500,000 meals, 20,000 weaning accessories and 100+ hours of virtual consultation. Their line of 35 nutritionally balanced and chef-made meals and complete parenting ecosystem are supporting parents all over the country and now internationally. 

We caught up with Ian to find out more.

Tell us about Mamamade

We’ve built an ecosystem of 70,000 parents around the world. We provide support, resources tools and meal products that help modern parents.

Tell us about your role

I'm the Co-founder and CEO. My wife Sophie started the business from our kitchen. Sophie is very much the face of the brand and has the final say on everything. I'm in charge of strategy, growth and operations.

Where did the desire to start Mamamade stem from?

Need and necessity. Being new parents. There were no brands or resources that spoke to the modern parents or spoke our language. Sophie created the first product in our kitchen, friends started to ask about it and then very quickly people were ordering from all over the country through Instagram. Instagram exploded into a community with parents all over the country craving support. The boxes of orders were so high we couldn’t see our front door. 

This was timed with me looking for a new opportunity after exiting my previous startup. I wanted to build something positive to help people and make a real impact on people’s lives. Sophie pulled me to the side and said, “This is it, parents need more help. We're doing it. Let's build this together.” So that was the start. And now we're helping parents all over the world.

What have been your biggest challenges to date?

We always set out to build a sustainable business. We make a profit on our first order,. From day one we’ve been focused on retention, making sure the customer experience is perfect. We do everything we can to make the customer happy and enjoy a positive experience so they’ll stay loyal and we are truly adding value to their lives

Finding customers is hard, so in addition to retention we are also looking at ways to increase the average order value. We’ve looked at the data from this huge community and we've slowly developing add-ons and SKUs that increase the average basket size, but also increase that retention. As a result, we're seeing parents stay longer and spend longer. 

It’s not just the food now, which ranges from six months to five years. We have accessories too, and most recently launched digital resources, one-to-one consultations and webinars for the whole parenting spectrum. There are some exciting no food products launching very soon too! We’re really hyper-focused on building out that ecosystem. So that once we acquire a customer we can really maximize that LTV.

What led to this diversification?

We’re a mission based business and our job is to help parents. This is what parents were asking for, and if parents want something, we're going to go and do it for them. 

We've worked so hard to build on various channels - our Instagram and TikTok has over 70,000 parents. We have 20k parents on our  newsletters that go out weekly. We also communicate with our customers through SMS which has been a game changer. We knew from day one we wanted to invest heavily on producing really high quality value-add SEO content. This means our organic Google search is really high and we don’t just have to rely on splashing cash on social ads. 

We are always asking ourselves ‘how do we create evergreen content?’ ‘How do we get people in our community to talk to each other so we can get viral brand exposure?’ These are the questions that inform everything we do.

We are coming out with an exciting ambient range that can sit in physical presences like shops and nurseries that lets people know about us and come to our site and navigate them to a subscription.

In terms of the DTC landscape, what do you think will happen in the next 2 years? How can brands futureproof themselves?

The DTC world has generated a lot of excitement. Many people bought stuff to experience the DTC thing, especially when we were in lockdown. But ultimately, consumers are becoming a lot more savvy in terms of what they're getting and why they’re getting it. Going into economic uncertainty, consumers will question why they should part with their money for your DTC brand.

The brand purpose is going to be crucial. People have to really buy into what you're doing, but they also want to be a part of it, not just buy a one-off product. We’ve seen other brands in our industry come up with products, but there's no stickiness. There's no reason to come back or search again on Google. 

Buying into the brand community, the ecosystem and affinity with a brand is so important. For the next couple of years, brands that survive will have to really justify why your product or service adds value to your life. Not just like a nice add on. 

We’ve provided a lot of free resources and this has to be communicated more through a brand's messaging and the customer experience. Really thinking about the whole journey that the customers are going through. It's not just ‘here's a product by a new brand - so much goes on behind the scenes.

What advice would you give to DTC brands?

Take your time to really understand what your purpose is, what your mission is and what you're actually trying to achieve. Really get to know your first 100 customers, call them up. Go meet them once a while. Truly understand what you're helping them with and understand every aspect of their life - who they're following, what they do, what kind of problems they experience in their life. Then, iterate this in your product. 

Don't be so naive to think ‘this is the product, everyone's gonna like it’. Your product is going to evolve and change. It's about the founder. It's about the category. It's not about the initial product. That initial product is going to change. And then also, just really think about that whole holistic customer experience. Why would someone come back? If your product is just a one-time thing, you have to have extremely high margins to justify doing that.

Finally, which DTC brands do you look up to?

1. All Plants. What they have built, defining a category and ultimately a movement inspired us so much. We of course had a product to start with that was selling very quickly but we knew that was not enough if we wanted to build something significant that would change lives. The way they helped build the mass plant-based movement in the UK and became a very successful subscription business gave us the confidence to go for it - they were one of the pioneers in the DTC food subscription world. JP is now an investor in us, so he believes in what we're doing in our own way.

 

2. Huel. The way they created a tribe of Hueligans and an amazing community by really adding a product into peoples lives that they needed is amazing. 

 

3. Heights - they created a whole new category in Braincare! And in two years doing over 5m of ARR. they are at the forefront of everything and constantly trying new approaches, building in public. There is no shame in failing as long as you try, learn something new and iterate.

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