By Lubna Hamdan
How Francisco Pellegrini, CEO of Yalla Baby Box is helping parents in the region save time and money
An online shop with a premium service for all things baby, Yalla Baby Box has a high level of customisation and aims to be the go-to solution for parents pinched for time, educating them with key facts about their little ones.
Launched in September 2018, Yalla Baby Box is a flexible, monthly subscription box for all essential baby needs ranging from diapers and wipes to toys, baby care products and formula. In addition to these necessities, Yalla Baby Box drops in surprise treats for parents and their baby every month.
Here, Francisco Pellegrini, CEO of Yalla Baby Box and managing partner at Eureka Labs Middle East, explains the secrets behind the successful start-up.
When did you come up with the idea of Yalla Baby Box or realise there was a gap in the market for the business?
At Eureka Labs we have more than 15 years experience in tech businesses, mostly e-commerce, with a background of two exits: Alamaula.com to ebay in 2011; in 2016, Mymarketplay to Naspers Group; and in 2017-18.
We believed this was a good moment to start new in the market, bringing our expertise in e-commerce, above all, subscription e-commerce.
Eureka Labs is also the main shareholder in Bambox, a similar business to Yalla Baby Box, but in Argentina and soon launching in Brazil and other South American countries. Having a playbook in how to do subscription e-commerce for mums, we decided to come on board into the Middle East with a new proposition. This is when we set up Eureka Labs Middle East and we raised seed funding to start Yalla Baby Box.
Yalla Baby Box is not only a combination of other propositions, such as Bambox or Honest (in US), it is also a good and new marketplace model.
Mums are able to subscribe to certain products; starting from essentials (diapers and wipes) saving time and money and creating trust in the subscription e-commerce.
We are the first subscription e-commerce service for diapers, wipes, baby and mum care in the region that is purely born through subscriptions. Our product is a very high premium service with a lot of added value and customisation.
What is your business plan?
We offer subscription bundles in which mums can fully customise and select which products they would like to receive every month and which products only occasionally. The technology is well developed to recognise how many of each product the baby at this age/size will use and we recommend certain bundles out of it.
Most of the recommended box is advised from our doctors and specialists and the brands we are working with. When mums subscribe for the first time, they are given up to 25 percent off to really save money and ensure we are cheaper than any other traditional e-commerce and/or even retailers.
Mums can cancel and/or put on hold the subscription any time and the system will properly advise, by SMS, email and even our customer service team by telephone, about the new box for the second month.
They will be able to confirm sizes, add new products or cancel the subscription with no cost.
The longer you subscribe, the more discount and benefits you will receive from Yalla Baby.
Our boxes not only contain the products mums select, we offer exclusive benefits from our partners and suppliers, such as discount vouchers, product sampling, special gifts for mum and baby and more customised products.
We really offer a premium customer experience delivered for free straight to the doorsteps of mums.
Is the company bootstrapped or have you raised capital from investors? Can you take us through your funding?
We have raised seed fund (or pre-seed fund) from Saudi investors. Saudi Arabia is our main target (for investment) for the following years.
What are your expansion plans?
We are planning on getting the product market-fit in the UAE, increasing the number of subscribers and at the same time our operation capabilities. Thus, we will be able to increase the value of our start-up and put it on the next level.
We are expecting, after the next six months, to start our operations in Saudi Arabia and in two years the rest of the GCC. We have set up a very efficient logistics operation in which we can deliver to any GCC country even from the UAE, becoming independent of third parties. The same applies to our technology - we will be moving from Shopify Plus to our own platform in a few months.
What is your pricing strategy?
Mums can subscribe to any of our products, starting with diapers as main essential products, but they won’t have any restrictions except a minimal purchase order up to AED150-200.
We offer monthly bundles with everything included and more for the four weeks. Our bundles start from AED200 approximately if you are buying diapers.
When you subscribe – it means you would like to receive the service every month – Yalla Baby Box immediately gives you 15 percent off the bill and if you have any other benefits, such as a discount code, credit card with benefits (such as Platinum Card) or more, you will have even more discounts (up to 25 percent) out of the sub total with the 15 percent.
Our pricing is very attractive for those mums that really want to save time and money.
What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?
Always listen to your customer’s feelings, realise what your customer’s pains are and convert them into a value proposition for them. The simpler the better. Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
If you could go back, what would you have done differently with the company?
I should have avoided taking time to set up the company and started with a friendlier, simpler and more marketplace-oriented design following our subscription model.
What is your vision for the company?
We want to be the first subscription marketplace in the region for different basic and essential products; starting from babies; Yalla Baby, and moving to kids, women, men, etc. Offering the same playbook with monthly/weekly bundles, very customised and with high added value.