goBaby: The Peer-to-Peer Baby Gear Marketplace
goBaby is a marketplace for baby gear rentals, offering traveling families an easy way to rent everything from strollers to car seats and beyond. The New York-based company was founded in 2015 Natalie Kaminski and Ksenia Bolobine, and I had the chance to speak with the former for a Q&A about aha moments, how a peer-to-peer baby gear marketplace works, and where the company is going next.
To start, I'd love to learn a bit more about your background. What were you doing before founding goBaby?
I have been working in the tech industry since 1998. I started my career as a programmer working at a large healthcare device manufacturer. My very first project had to do with converting a database to handling 4-digit years (perhaps you've heard of the Y2K panic we had back then). I continued to learn the ropes of software and later web development by working in various capacities, including QA Engineer, Business Analyst, and a Project Manager. In 2009, I founded my own web development firm and started working with small businesses and startups developing their technologies. I have always been fascinated with how technology makes life easier and product development became sort of a passion of mine.
Tell me the story of how goBaby was founded. What was the aha moment?
In late 2015, after a trip to Chicago where I was able to borrow a car from a friend but couldn’t find an easy way to rent a car seat, I decided I’d had enough and was determined to prevent mothers and fathers around the world from ripping their hair out.
As an entrepreneur myself, the sharing economy was a natural place to turn to for a solution. We’ve trusted sites like Airbnb and Uber to make traveling easier and more affordable than ever. What if we could replicate that with an on-demand community that allows us to rent the gear we need for our children when we need it — eliminating the need to bring it with us or incur extra travel expenses by buying it at our destination. Thus, the idea for goBaby was born.
For the uninitiated, what is goBaby? How does your peer-to-peer baby gear rental marketplace work?
goBaby is a marketplace for baby gear rentals. It offers traveling families an easy way to rent strollers, car seats and other items they need for their children during trips from a community of local parents. For local parents, goBaby is a simple way to make some additional cash by renting unused equipment to traveling parents to better their vacation experience.
Here’s how it works:
For equipment renters:
- Search available items by location, dates, item category
- Select an item and submit a booking request
- Get the item from the owner by either getting it delivered to you or picking it up
- Return the item back to the owner by either delivering it or getting it picked up by the owner
For equipment owners:
- Take a photo of the item you want to rent out, provide a brief description, and set pricing
- Choose delivery method: delivery or pickup by the renter
- Give the item to the renter
- Get your item back: pickup or delivery by the renter
- Get paid
How has the company evolved since its founding?
It has been almost two years since we launched. We have seen many ups and downs, but we ultimately arrived at a point where the marketplace is growing itself. We have over 3,000 participants on the platform, with over 1,000 items across more than 100 locations in the US and Mexico. We have seen a steady growth in transactions and hope to continue with this trajectory in 2019.
What are some of the cool things you’re working on right now at goBaby?
We are in the final stages of relaunching a brand new online marketplace. We will have many exciting features that users have been asking for, including integration with delivery providers and more!
What comes next for the company?
From the very beginning, goBaby was more than a baby gear rental company. Our goal is to build an ecosystem for the traveling parents—especially millennial parents—who trust technology and are used to having it in their lives. We are building relationships with likeminded companies in an attempt to create a platform that will encompass all facets of family travel. Of course, this requires significant investments, and we are still a self-funded firm. But we will continue to persevere as long as we can and make the best out of it.
What kind of positions are you hiring for right now?
We are always looking for interns to help us with social media and business development. You can learn more here: https://gobaby.co/jobs
Any final thoughts?
Creating a marketplace is possibly one of the most challenging tasks, as you have to overcome the chicken-and-the-egg problem, where you must have enough supply before you can generate demand, but at the same time, unless there is demand, it is difficult to attract the supply. Being a bootstrapping company put us in a position where we had to try many different tactics and be super agile. We are very grateful to our community of users that has stuck with us and helped us grow organically.