Founded by Eve Kekeh
Graduate of AMBS, Faculty of Humanities
Funding Received: £2,500 Venture Further 2nd Prize (2016), £500 UnLtd Try-It Award, £5,000 UnLtd Do-It Award, £2,000 Ignition Award, £10,000 Venture Further 1st Prize, £5,000 UMIP Innovation Optimiser
Three words to describe your journey so far…
“Educational, Challenging, Empowering!”
Tell us a little bit about yourself, the Enterprise and your journey so far.
I’m Eve Kekeh, founder of Bundlee Ltd, the UK’s first baby clothing rental subscription. I’ve built up my experience working in start-ups: I worked for a couple of product management companies; and more recently I was running the marketing for a new dating app. I am very passionate about finding disruptive ways to provide people with sustainable solutions that mean they don’t need to compromise on anything else. I started developing Bundlee on the Master of Enterprise course in the Alliance Manchester Business School at The University of Manchester. This gave me a year to research my business concept and speak to hundreds of parents. Thanks to the encouraging feedback received, I continued to develop the concept into a business.
How was your idea conceived?
The idea was conceived whilst I was travelling before starting the Master of Enterprise course. I knew I’d have a year to spend developing an idea, so whilst travelling, I’d be constantly thinking of disruptive ideas. I realised that UK parents are facing a growing problem… The cost of raising a baby grows year on year. In 2017, the cost of raising a baby in the first year was over £11,000. So, it’s not surprising that 60% of parents say they are struggling to cope financially. Baby clothes are a huge expense as babies grow incredibly fast, and often clothing items can only be worn a couple of times before they’re outgrown. UK homes are full of 183 million items of outgrown baby clothing! Parents have drawers full of outgrown baby clothes. Basically, drawers full of wasted money. As many parents don’t know what to do with these perfectly wearable outgrown clothes, sadly 1/3 are been thrown in the bin. My idea for a baby clothing rental service is the one that stuck because it’s not only a financially sound business model with inbuilt recurring revenue, but also one that causes a positive societal and environmental impact. The Master of Enterprise allowed me to conduct research, which gave me the confidence to start the business.
What is your company mission?
Bundlee’s vision is for sustainable living to be accessible and affordable for all families. Our mission is to provide an exceptional baby clothing rental subscription that provides parents with a more affordable solution whilst reducing textile and energy wastage.
At what point, did you realise that the idea had commercial potential?
The point I realised that this idea had potential was during the Master of Enterprise course and researching how rental companies like Rent the Runway, Zipcar and Netflix had disrupted other industries. I then spoke with over 500 parents to discuss the idea of facilitating the sharing of clothes between families, ensuring each baby had the right size clothes, right when they needed them. The idea that Bundlee could support families by alleviating the cost of baby clothing and reduce the associated environmental burden, had an overwhelmingly positive response, highlighting the demand for this service.
What approaches did you first employ to develop the idea?
I first researched the concept thoroughly. Then I started developing my Minimal Viable Product (MVP) – a pilot website that launched the rental service to a limited number of families.
How did you get involved with the Innovation Optimiser?
I had heard that UMIP had different schemes that could provide funding and support for entrepreneurs. In January 2018 I saw that the Innovation Optimiser was running an Ignition funding call, small grant funding that allows entrepreneurs to test out their ideas, so I applied and it went from there. The team then invited me on to the Roadmap programme where I could chat about my idea with other entrepreneurs and develop the business plan.
How did this engagement help you?
The Roadmap course helped provide guidance and frameworks to use in the development of my business. Being part of a cohort of entrepreneurs and learning from each other’s experiences was valuable.
Were there any standout moments from the Innovation Optimiser that helped propel your idea forward?
Having the opportunity to dedicate time to my business plan and think through my next steps was particularly useful. Equally, being in a group of likeminded people was great to bounce ideas around.
What have been your major milestones and achievements so far?
A major milestone was getting our first customer, and a milestone that was even greater was getting the first customer from word of mouth: this showed the potential for viability. Another great achievement was winning first prize and £10,000 in the Manchester Enterprise Centre Venture Further Competition, in the Social category. I had previously won second prize and £2,500 in the same competition 2 years earlier so this was real validation that my business concept had progressed. I’ve secured over £20,000 in funding for Bundlee and secured free office space through various pitching competitions.
How has being involved with Entrepreneurial activity benefitted you?
It’s been great because I came to the University with the hope of starting a business through the Master of Enterprise course. Being involved in this activity provided a practical application to my research, in addition to opportunities provided on the course.
What future support are you looking for to progress your business?
We have recently just launched the rental service to hundreds of families across the UK. I am looking for mentorship and advice from people with e-commerce, fashion and logistics experience. I am also seeking additional funding to help with start-up costs.
Would you encourage other staff, academics and research students to seek support for their ideas through the Innovation Optimiser?
Definitely! I think it’s vital to execute on ideas and Roadmap provides a framework for this.