The Importance of Trust: BabyQuip’s Origin Story

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As every parent knows, traveling with babies and small children requires equipment – lots of it. Hauling your own stroller, car seat, and everything else on a trip is a tall order. BabyQuip has a solution: rent everything you need, or at least the bulky stuff, when you arrive at your destination. 

This is BabyQuip’s origin story.

Origins of BabyQuip

Before founding BabyQuip, Francis Maier worked as an advisor for other startups. Then in 2016, she started looking for startup ideas like Airbnb that could leverage the growing gig economy. She attended Women’s Startup Lap – basically a pre-accelerator for female founders – and met someone who ran a local baby gear rental business that she wanted to take national.

Francis found this idea intriguing because it was an underserved market. “At that point, there were a lot of companies doing property management and cleaning services and those kinds of things,” she says. “But there was nobody else doing [nationwide baby gear rental]. And so she goes through her pitch, and I say, ‘Hey, I think I should be your CEO.’”

It took a few months of persuading, but eventually, the two women worked out a deal.  I had the gut feeling that this was a startup that I knew I could make successful,” Francis says. “And again, there wasn't really a whole lot of competition, nothing national. I know how to build trusted brands and, at that point, had … a good network of people who could potentially invest in us. And I did get some really good investment really early that honestly, I don't think [my business partner] would've been able to get.”

Simplifying Travel, Building Trust

Francis says BabyQuip exists to help lighten the load on parents who want to travel but dread the thought of cramming a mountain of gear into the family car or hauling it through the airport. 

“Traveling with babies and all that baby gear, car seats, strollers, et cetera, is really, really hard,” she says. “And families, especially millennial parents, really want to travel, want to take their kids, want to take those photos, want to have those Instagram memories, want to spend time together, and of course, especially post-pandemic. And what we do is make it easy for families to pack light and travel happy.”

BabyQuip delivers all the necessary gear to wherever a family needs it – the airport, a hotel, or even the grandparents’ house. The company will tailor the equipment to each client’s needs, whether it’s a full-size crib, car seat, stroller, or anything else. It relies on an Airbnb-style network of about 1,200 providers who own, deliver, and set everything up. “Most of our quality providers have lots of gear, lots of car seats, lots of cribs, different kinds of strollers, high chairs, toys, and so on. So what's exciting to me is they're really building a business on our platform,” she says.

Of course, when you’re talking equipment for children, trust is paramount. Clients have to be absolutely sure that everything will be clean, safe, and fully operational. “From the very start, I knew that trust was the number one thing that we had to deliver on,” Francis says. “And so we put a lot of investment into developing trust.” 

One of the biggest challenges was obtaining liability insurance to protect both the company and its providers. BabyQuip also trains providers on how to use and clean the equipment and ensures that only quality gear is provided to clients. “We talk about our brand values, which include safety and cleanliness and trust. And the community reinforces it because they're moms serving other moms, and they get a lot of gratitude from families having a great vacation.”

New Markets, Partnerships

Francis says the company had a “really strong summer,” and she expects business to be brisk in 2023 as well. To prepare for that, BabyQuip is introducing a dedicated mobile app and plans to expand into new markets. “We want to be where our customers are traveling, wherever they're traveling,” she says. “So we're in most of the markets of the United States, and in Canada, we're starting to get into Mexico, we're in parts of the Caribbean, and we're looking to Australia because it's a market very much like our own. It's just like adding another Texas or Florida or California for us. And that would be pretty huge.”

BabyQuip is also partnering with hospitality brands like VRBO (so hosts can make some extra money) and Destination Hotels by Hyatt. “We're looking at forming more of those partnerships,” she says. “And those are the kind of things that are what I would call moats that would be hard for other companies without our scale to get.”

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