In June this year, Subo was brought to a whole new level with the help of Steve Baxter, and Shark Tank Australia, who invested $120,000 into this “incredible” design. In the words of Steve himself when he won the investment over his fellow Sharks, “Suckers, you missed out. Three hundred thousand babies born in Australia every year.”
Tell us about Subo.
Subo – The Food Bottle is the worlds first non-squeeze food dispenser, which means young children can feed themselves independently without the risk of a squeezey mess. It’s quick and easy to fill, and the only way for the food to come out is to sip on the soft spout. The food sits on top of a platform that automatically moves up as the food is dispensed directly into the child’s mouth. Subo is perfect for feeding on the go, like in the pram while your shopping or the car seat on a road trip.
We launched Subo in late 2016, selling mostly through Pregnancy, babies and children expos, as well as our own website. The market responded really well, it seemed most parents had used the disposable squeeze pouches, had the same experience with mess and wanted to try something new and innovative. Earlier this year, we had a huge boost in sales as Subo was featured on Channel Ten’s ‘Shark Tank’. The episode aired in front of 840,000 viewers. Our website sales spiked overnight and retailers came looking for stock.
What inspired you to start Subo?
We have three young children and found it difficult to feed them on the go without having to clean up and change outfits when we arrived at our destination. We tried the re-useable squeezey pouches and found that they were flawed in that the children could squeeze out a mess, they were difficult to use and even harder to clean. So we thought to ourselves, why not invent a product that is non-squeeze.
Our idea came one evening when Julie-Anne brought a pump pack tooth paste container out of the shower, and said “we can use this to make a food dispenser”. So we got out a hack saw and some duck tape and got to work making our first home made prototype. We tried it out ourselves and were surprised how well it worked. The next day we had the children trialing it, and they loved using it! The rest is history.
Tell us about your career and background.
Julie-Anne and I met in Whislter where we worked together, I’m originally from Canada. When Jules’ Canadian visa ran out, I followed her back to Australia. We spent some time working in the Whitsundays before settling down in Julie-Anne’s hometown, Melbourne. We count ourselves lucky to have worked in the mountains and islands together, and Melbourne is such a great city to raise a family.
Jules works in Events Management and I have a background in Sales and Manufacturing. Having invented a product like Subo, we often get asked if either of us are engineers or industrial designers. We don’t, but as a wise man once said “Necessity is the mother of all inventions”. We had a need, to feed our children healthy foods while on the go, so we invented a product that could help us do that.
Describe a typical workday for you.
I’m an early riser, I like to get to the gym before 6am. My work day start with responding to emails and messages. After that, I’ll re-write my to-do lists, and try to map out some time through the day to complete these tasks. I’ll usually have a meeting or two with suppliers and/or customers, I try to keep these meetings around midday as much as possible so that I don’t have to deal with rush hour.
My break is when the kids get home from school and Jules gets home from work, we play, eat dinner, do homework, wash up and get the kids into bed. Once the kids are down it’s back into the office for me. We do our order fullfillment at night, when it’s quiet. I find it helps me to wind down from the day.
What advice do you have for those wanting to start a business?
Go for it, and ask for help! We have had many business ideas over the years that didn’t eventuate because we hesitated for one reason or another. With Subo, from the moment we built our prototype it has been full steam ahead. Of course there have been hurdles along the way, both financially and through lack of experience. There is a lot of different skills required in bringing a product to life. We were pleasantly surprised on the assistance we’ve had through Government grant programs. The funding has certainly helped us to commercialise Subo, but the mentoring and networking has also helped us with bridging the gap in places we lacked experience.
What’s next for you, and Subo?
It’s exciting to see our social media following grow, where we’re seeing a community of parents sharing their success stories with Subo and sharing recipes with each other. We want to build on this and create more products that help busy parents feed their children healthy foods on the go. Plan to see more Subo products before the end of the year.
We’ve also had plenty of interest from retailers and distributors around the globe wanting to sell Subo’s. Exporting is a whole new level for us, so we’re looking to expand our team to help grow the company as we venture into new territory.
To find out more about Subo, please visit www.suboproducts.com.au.