Premium member Edwina Sharrock is the founder of Birth Beat, an online service specialising in childbirth education, baby and child first aid as well as antenatal classes – delivered both online and face-to-face (if you happen to live in Tamworth, NSW). Edwina is a Registered Midwife, a mother-of-two and facilitates the informative and evidence-based classes herself.
Edwina appeared on Tuesday night’s episode of Network Ten’s Shark Tank, securing a $200,000 investment from Janine Allis for a 20% stake in her business.
Edwina said Janine’s investment is going to assist her on her digital marketing efforts and her plans to scale Birth Beat nationally.
“I genuinely think we’re going to make such an impact for women in Australia,” Sharrock says.
We talked to Edwina about how Birth Beat came about, how she secured pre-seed funding earlier this year, and her future plans.
I have been a registered Midwife for 13 years, prior to that I have worked at RPA Sydney as a NICU nurse.
I have worked as an Emergency CNC, The Westpac Retrieval Helicopter service, and as a Disaster and Emergency Manager, and managed our local Maternity unit.
I’ve been teaching the antenatal classes in Tamworth for years.
This started when our local maternity unit closed its doors when I was 36 weeks pregnant with my daughter Polly. Living in a regional area where services are already limited made me cross. I then discovered over 41% of maternity units have closed in Australia in the last 15 years. To be honest, this pissed me off even more. So when Polly was six months old, I started teaching the classes to friends. Over the years, the course content I have created has grown and so has the demand. We would book out month-after-month in Tamworth.
It was all word of mouth from the beginning.
We had couples travel to Tamworth for the class from as far as Cobar and Sydney. From a business perspective, this overwhelmed me a bit. I considered franchising or growing and spreading the business with the face-to-face model, but I was worried other staff would not teach the classes with my passion and commitment (read: slight control freak, but Birth Beat is like my third baby and I want to know that every pregnant woman and her partner get the very best experience and education from Birth Beat!). So I decided last year the way to do that was to take it online. This way, wherever women are or however busy they are in pregnancy they have a simple, easy way to get prepared for birth without having to go to traditional classes.
I wrote a really rough, lean canvas plan (a great way to get your business ideas out quick and dirty) around taking Birth Beat online.
I entered it into the CommBank 21-day Innovation Award, and we were the National winners. It was amazing, we got to spend three days in Sydney in the Innovation Lab and were awarded $10,000. This was what got me started and helped me fund the online platform. It was all still bootstrapped at this stage. I was working at the hospital during the day, and Birth Beat at night. I spent a lot of time Googling and teaching myself about online learning management systems. It was serious hard yakka and I have poured hours into this, but I love every minute (well, most minutes ha!).
In 2018 we formed a company and received a place in the HCF Catalyst Business Accelerator powered by Slingshot.
As a startup in this program, I sold 10% of Birth Beat to a VC company, Artesian Investments, in a pre-seed round. This has been integral in allowing us to grow and scale at the pace that we are growing at, which is hugely exciting.
I still didn’t think of myself as an entrepreneur though.
I think when you work in health, particularly in public health, which I had my whole life it is hard to change your mindset from receiving an income to making an income.
I have always been an innovator, always challenging assumptions and looking at how things can be done better. It has been a huge mind shift for me to know that I am a businesswoman and I am proud of the product I’m selling. I think as women and again particularly in health or coming out of government roles, we undervalue ourselves particularly in financial terms. However, it was when I realised I had not been paying myself for the five years of teaching face-to-face that something had to change.
Now I understand that I need to make some profit so that I can continue to deliver this awesome service to women and have a sustainable company. And to do that I need to be comfortable and okay with the businesswoman/ entrepreneur title. I am actually coaching a few women around this now and it’s crazy how many women are currently not paying themselves in the entrepreneurial world.
I had never seen Shark Tank before.
This is pretty funny. In our house, we don’t have a TV so I had never actually seen the show, but I knew of it and the concept. I was asked to apply and I got through the first round, and then watched a whole lot on YouTube and completely freaked myself out! But by that stage, I was all-in and had committed. One of our values at Birth Beat is ‘Determined to Deliver’ so I took that commitment very seriously.
I am lucky in a way that as a sole founder, with all the information, IP, financials, contracts, and everything I have negotiated, I know the business inside and out and felt confident going in. Prior to the filming, I did lock myself in a hotel room in Sydney for 24 hours with no distractions and went over every little number, conversion, split test, campaign, and cap table so that I was totally up to speed.
Our next focus in to grow and expand while continuing to give our expecting mums the very best content and experience. Our focus is currently on the Australian market but exploring our international growth strategies in the next 18 months.
Connect with Edwina here.