“During our first meeting with Babies R Us,” Priska Diaz, creator of the Bare® air-free baby bottle and CEO of BittyLab, said with a laugh, “their senior buyer didn’t even come into the room. She didn’t sit down at the table with us – we’re nobody! But she did take a look at what we’d come to present, and that’s when everything started to change.”
Diaz had come to Babies R Us with her own creation. She’d invented a baby bottle specially designed to reduce two common problems infants have while feeding: taking in too much air – which can result in uncomfortable gas or colic – and nipple confusion, which leads to premature weaning off the breast. But that early prototype wasn’t exactly ready for prime-time.
The Bare® Bottle’s Journey: From Creative Concept To Store Shelves
“The buyer was impressed,” Diaz said. “She told us a lot of people tell her they have innovative ideas, but generally they don’t. The Bare® Bottle design was truly revolutionary. She told us to make it work and come back.” Diaz used a series of drawing and animations on her website to explain how the Bare® bottle worked and how its design would help babies feed successfully. “Moms just got it!” Diaz said. “And in 2013, we were able to do our first production run, which was 10,000 bottles.”
Having bottles made with FDA approved plastics was a huge step forward for Diaz’s company. “For the first time, we were able to actually test the product with babies,” she explained. “We worked with a group of 200 babies, and among those babies who had extreme gas or other diagnosed issues, there was a 95% improvement rate after feeding with the Bare® bottles.” Today, Diaz’s bottles are available in 185 of the most-heavily trafficked Babies R Us stores. As her manufacturing capacity grows, she looks forward to an even greater presence.
SCORE Westchester: A Huge Help From The Very Beginning
“We were very fortunate in being able to work with SCORE Westchester right from the beginning,” Diaz said. “Our company is very small – it’s just my husband and I – and we’re self-funded. That means there’s no way we could have paid for the level of assistance and guidance we got for free from SCORE.”
SCORE mentor Marty Levine helped Diaz with a clear overview of financial needs over the next 2 years and literally sat down with her on weekly basis to develop cash flow, balance and P&L sheets. He also played a critical role in assisting Diaz on her search for funding. “If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t have gotten the funding,” Diaz said. “We needed money to pay for inventory; being able to fill orders took a certain amount of time and until we were able to get that much bigger and faster, we couldn’t make that happen. Marty put the numbers together, and on February 1st, 2016 we had our launch at Babies R Us.”
When asked if she had any advice for aspiring Westchester county entrepreneurs, Diaz said, “You can rely on SCORE. They provide the guidance and you execute to build your business. They know everything that is going to happen as your company grows, and having them help you through that is a real advantage.”
“You can rely on SCORE. They provide the guidance and you execute to build your business. They know everything that is going to happen as your company grows, and having them help you through that is a real advantage.”