When Ronnie McKenzie and his wife Carlie had their first child, they decided to start a buying group that gives discounts to parents.
How did the idea for Bambino Brands come about?
I wanted to get into an online business and had been searching high and low to find a model that met the criteria I was chasing. One morning my wife was checking a website she had been purchasing off for some time that occasionally had baby sales, and she mentioned that if she could find one that had baby stuff all the time she wouldn’t leave. So, I spent about six hours searching for an Australian site that did that and came up empty. I decided to fill that space and hence Bambino Brands was born.
What was the hardest challenge you faced when starting out?
I am a trade qualified carpenter, so there were, and still are, several challenges that I continually have to overcome. It is one massive learning experience and luckily I have been able to learn enough to keep me going through one of the toughest years of my life. Out of everything, I would say cash flow would have to be one of the biggest challenges as the business model is highly brand-dependent. I have had to find the top brands that have the best sell-through for us and form a strategy around that.
What has been the most effective form of advertising for your business?
Facebook has definitely been our biggest lead generator by far. I have always been heavily focused on engagement with our members and there are few that come close, in any industry, to the level of engagement that we maintain. It has been a long process, however, and it is now paying dividends on the time invested in building the community. We have also run several successful referral-based competitions, which is a great and cost-effective way to build a following, especially if you have a demographic in mind with your competitions and promotions.
How did you grow your Facebook following to over 14,000 likes?
Our focus from when we started has been to build an engaging community and have our page be a destination as opposed to another one that clogs up your feed. I wanted people to hang out, share advice, learn from others, and have a chat all on our page. I love to talk, and there is definitely no lack of conversation over there – every time someone interacts with us, it is shown in the ticker and often in his or her feeds. It is that heavy engagement and the occasional running of Facebook ads that keeps people coming. This is the first month that I decided to not spend anything on marketing and it is by far the best month we have had, in terms of sales, new members, and new fans.
What is it like running a business with your wife?
I have always been the optimist of the relationship and Carlie more a realist. She lives in the here and now, while I live about 30 steps in front (a very easy way to get tripped up). If I said it was easy I would be telling a lie. So I won’t. It was incredibly difficult and, as most people know, the first year of business is the hardest. Carlie stood back from being involved in the day-to-day of the business to focus on her physiotherapy and dancing, and this has strengthened our relationship. We are both incredibly stubborn so I think this was the best outcome for the business and us.