Mandi Gunsberger knew early on she wanted to be an entrepreneur.
While raising three babies, the Sydney mum started a parenting website in her living room and 10 years on her success is remarkable.
Babyology has become one of the leading digital sources of information for parents, publishing 25-30 pieces of content a day and reaching over 1.3 million unique visitors per month. It is the go-to place for new mums and dads looking for the coolest kids gear, or simply wanting a supportive space to hear stories from fellow parents in challenging times.
The business recently expanded into a cool Surry Hills headquarters, which accommodates the team of 25. As founder and now CEO of Babyology, Premium member Mandi Gunsberger gives us a peek into her world.
Where did you grow up, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I grew up and have spent most my life in Sydney, apart from four years working in San Francisco. I always wanted to be an entrepreneur and actually started my first ‘business’ at the age of six. It involved stealing my sister’s toys and then auctioning them back to her for the highest possible price! But I was always interested in business whether it was doing a paper round or running a cake stand.
Tell us about the road to Babyology?
When I was 12 I decided I wanted to be a chef and at 16 left school to do an apprenticeship. After 6 months of peeling carrots and potatoes I decided it wasn’t for me, went back to school and then on to university to complete a Commerce degree.
I’d say that Babyology really grew out of my Virgo trait of being an anal, over-researcher! I‘ve always created spreadsheets on everything, including which was the best pram to buy when I was pregnant with my first baby. I quickly realised the in-depth research I prepared would be helpful to others, so in 2006 I registered the name Babyology and the business was born. 10 years on and we have 25 staff, a one million-strong community and a new Sydney office.
You have three daughters aged 4, 9 and 10, though we’ve heard that you refer to Babyology as your fourth child. What do you love about your job?
I love the team I work with; it is empowering to be able to choose the people in our business. I love that I am shaping the direction of my business constantly.
I am in awe of the fact we have built a community of one million strong women, and also that we are now in a position to support worthwhile causes.
What’s a day in your life like?
At 6am my husband and I start the day with a stand up meeting to discuss what the day holds and ensure all the kids are accounted for. Then we fight over whose turn it is to go to the gym- we try to alternate. Then it’s the school and daycare drop offs, followed by a day full of meetings, lunches, getting in and out of Ubers. In the evening it’s the usual dinner, bath, bed routine with the kids and then I go to bed not that long afterwards. I do tend to go out in the evening once or twice a week.
What practical advice would you give to others trying to grow a business online?
People think we’ve had this growth overnight but really it has been slow and steady. Success takes time.
I’d say collaboration is a great tip to assist in growth online. We’ve worked with many similar businesses over the years, shared our content, collaborated with marketing. Don’t be afraid of your competitors, look for synergies and ways to work together.
How has the business and your position in it evolved over the years?
It has been a hard journey, and all-consuming running a business. For the first 5-7 years I was doing everything, then it got to a point where we had to hire a sales team. I was at breaking point, with everyone waiting on me for every aspect of the business, so I had to learn to let go and put more staff in place. It was quite a shift hiring a GM to run the business, but it’s been a positive experience.
“Don’t be afraid of your competitors, look for synergies and ways to work together.”
What was the reason behind you joining Business Chicks?
I joined Business Chicks in 2013 at the Sir Bob Geldof event. I thought I’d give the event a go and was instantly hooked on the incredible energy in the room.
What’s a great experience you’ve had with Business Chicks?
I had the very special opportunity to be seated next to Jamie Oliver at a Business Chicks breakfast. It was amazing to be able to connect with him. It was a really brilliant experience.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given (and by whom)?
My dad has been one of my biggest supporters. He passed away five years ago, but continues to inspire me. He was a South African immigrant who worked as a magician, a clown, a teacher, did the paper run, whatever he needed to do. He taught me to take a risk and follow my passion. I think he’d be really proud of what I have created.
What do you want your legacy to be?
Professionally, I am proud of the happy, uplifting, safe space that Babyology is for our community. We strive to produce content that is positive and non-judgmental and will continue to do so.
Personally, I love that I am setting the example to my girls that I work hard and juggle many things and that they too can follow their dreams and achieve whatever it is they wish to do.
“We strive to produce content that is positive and non-judgmental and will continue to do so.”
What does the future hold for Babyology?
We’ve spent a lot of time lately building a new company culture, as part of our shift to a new office in Surry Hills. There have been 15 new hires in the past six months, so it feels like a brand new stage for the business. We have some really big goals for 2017/2018 like new business concepts and re-launching the website. It definitely keeps things fresh and interesting.