Interview with Duygu Sefa, CEO of Babonbo

Interview with Duygu Sefa, CEO of Babonbo

By germana

Interview with Duygu Sefa, CEO of Babonbo, the startup dedicated to the rental of children’s equipment.

Who has children knows. One of the most complicated things, when you travel even for a few days, is to be able to fit all the equipment for the child in the car. A family of three people who are leaving for a weekend seems to be moving away. And if you travel by plane it’s even worse. Where do I put the stroller? The warm bottle? The cradle for sleeping? From today you won’t have anything to worry about, because Babonbo will take care of everything!

What’s Babonbo

Babonbo is the startup that connects families who have the equipment but do not use them with those who need it for travel, holidays and not only, having them delivered directly to the destination. Each family, using Babonbo, can become a “provider” and create its own mini online store. Everyone will be able to enter the description and images of the equipment that can be offered for rent, also by setting price, availability, place and collection methods.

Thanks to Babonbo, every family that goes on holiday with babies will not have to worry about anything. The platform is not only dedicated to those who go on holiday, in fact, with Babonbo Home you can rent all the equipment you need,  for as long as necessary in relation to your request.

To learn more about the topic, we interviewed Duygu Sefa, CEO of Babonbo.

Hi Duygu, thank you so much for this opportunity. It is really a pleasure to meet you. Tell us more about Babonbo.

Babonbo stands for Baby on board. It is a baby gear rental marketplace. Basically we help traveling families with babies to travel light, comfortable and safe by renting baby essentials, such as strollers, car seats, high chairs, cribs, and toys, from local people or businesses, so-called independent providers, at their holiday destination. Babonbo providers deliver the items to the airports, hotels, b&bs. Traveling families by booking those items before their vacation, like booking a hotel or a flight, they get them delivered whenever and wherever needed at their holiday destination. We created a web platform and mobile app, available on Apple Store and Google Play, to provide the best rental experience both to our providers and the customers. 

How and when was the idea born?

Before being a mother, I used to travel the world for both business and personal reasons. That was my passion to discover new places and cultures and I wanted to continue to do so with my little baby when she was born in 2017. In fact, we made our first intercontinental trip when she was only 3 months old. I discovered that traveling with a baby requires a lot of organization before the trip. Everything needs to be thought carefully and organized in advance. 

On top of it, there is the difficulty of carrying bulky safety items for a baby such as car seat, pram, and co-sleeping bassinet, because it is not always possible to find those items at your travel destination for only the time needed. It is also quite expensive to carry these items especially when you take a flight. Moreover, you run the risk that the items can be lost or broken during the flights. I give you another example of a situation that parents experience often. When you book a car at your holiday destination, you can also rent a car seat from car rental companies, however you do not have the guarantee that the car seat will be available. Car rentals have a limited stock of car seats. Even if you get the car seat, that one-size-fits-all car seat will not perfectly fit your baby’s size which means lack of safety. All these hassles create extra stress when you travel with a baby. 

I experienced all these during my travels and I said, wait a minute, there should be a way of not carrying these items but having everything I need at my destination only for the time needed. I did some research and discovered that there are small local rental business initiatives created mostly by moms in a lot of touristic destinations. I used some of those services. And most of the time the process of booking and the communication with the service providers were not smooth. The main reason was that those initiatives were created with small family budgets without user-friendly technology and experience. 

That is how I came up with the idea of creating a baby gear rental marketplace. My main objective was to help traveling families connect easily to the local rental businesses and provide the best user experience for both. 

How did you launch your startup? Did you use crowdfunding campaigns?

After a 3-month period of validation of the idea with the idea stage accelerator, Founder Institute, I created MVP by bootstrapping. And I launched the service in Milan. After winning the Mommypreneurs program and having completed the incubation period with Polihub, the startup received an investment of 150 thousand euros from an angel investor in 2021. The investment allowed the development of the innovative platform that makes it possible to rent products for children, short-term on vacation and long-term at home. In the meantime, co-founder e CTO Ahmed Allem came onboard. And today we are a team of 6 people working full-time for Babonbo.

How does the rental service work for families who want to go on holiday?

We created a very user-friendly experience for families on our platform. Families planning to visit a city, they search for that city on the platform. They find a list of products available from different providers in that city. They select the product based on their babies’ needs.

They choose where and when they want it to be delivered: hotel, airport, train station, grandparents’ house etc.  If they have any doubts about the product or delivery conditions of that provider, they can contact the provider on the platform through a chat function.  They send an order request to the provider. Provider receives the order, she can accept or reject the order. If the order is rejected for some reason by that provider, the customer can make another order to another provider in that city. 

How can I become a Babonbo provider?

Babonbo is a platform which gives the opportunity to parents or local businesses with unused baby equipment inventory to create their own rental store for free. We call them providers. It is so simple to become a provider on Babonbo anywhere in the world. 

We take them on an onboarding process where we ask some questions on our platform. Then they upload their product photos and information, they decide the daily rental price, delivery points which can be in the city center, train stations, airports, or even the cities around them. Then they publish their store and become a babonbo provider. It is free, they don’t need to make any initial investment. They should have products in perfect conditions and they should clean and sanitize them before each rental. Strollers, car seat and portable beds are the equipment they will rent most They can earn up to 1.800 euro per month depending on the their location. They enjoy managing their own business with their own schedule

Future Goals?

In the short term, expanding the network of local suppliers, reaching new cities, partnering with players in the travel sector and making the service more visible to traveling families are our main objectives.

We are about to close the fundraising round with the aim of increasing the network of providers in all cities in order to make the service even more widespread, accessible, efficient and always attentive to the needs of families to save time and money and at the same time protect the environment.

In the long run, we want to become the global leader both in the field of rental equipment for children, and as a virtuous example of the circular economy and sharing economy in the sector of children’s products.

Curiosity: in your opinion, why is it better to rent equipment than to buy it?

Simply because purchasing new products for our kids means creating more waste. Do you know that the greatest impact individuals can have in fighting climate change is to have one fewer child  according to a study made in 2017? 

Having one fewer child would save up to 58.6 tonnes of CO2-equivalent per year. It is 2.4 tonnes if you live car free and 1.6 tonnes if you avoid taking a roundtrip transatlantic flight. Do you see the huge difference? 

Should we stop making children? I don’t think so.

But we should definitely change our lifestyles and make more sustainable decisions especially when it comes to purchasing for our children. When we become parents, we are so enthusiastic about buying a lot of new stuff and many of them we use for a very short time. That is why renting is a more eco-friendly, sustainable and economical solution than purchasing. Not only for the products that we need for the short term when we travel, but also for any rentable item that we use at home. We increase the life-span of the products and decrease waste.