Mum Tribe Business is delighted to introduce our new female founder interview series. We spoke recently to Alex Lyons of Bumplo to find out what business means to her.
If you could summarise your business in one sentence, what would it be?
Bumplo is the Next Generation Booking Platform for Modern Parents.
When did you start your business?
It has been in development since 2018, and we recently launched it online.
Why did you start it?
I started it because as a young mom I was used to doing everything else on my phone, but I struggled to find and book activities and classes for my kids and I online. The online world of parenting world is quite fragmented and outdated so I wanted to streamline that information and make it more accessible for parents to seek support throughout every stage of parenting. I always thought it would make my life so much easier as a parent if there was one online booking platform I could go to find and book the various activities I desired all in a few simple clicks. After a lot of evenings wasted trawling websites to find out what was on, enduring lengthy email conversations with providers simply trying to book a spot for my baby, I decided there had to be a better way!
How has covid affected your business?
Bumplo was due to launch in Spring 2020 but when Covid hit the industry was very affected so I decided to focus on supporting businesses through social media in the meantime and on developing more online features to the website in preparation for our launch this year.
How did you come up with the name?
After a lot of doodling with letters and words that were related to our mission and our audience, I came up with the name Bumplo. Bumplo stands for Book Unite Meet Parents and Little Ones, from your BUMP to your L.O (the abbreviation for Little Ones) and beyond, as Bumplo has been created to be able to support parents from their earliest stages of their parenting journey and beyond. Also enabling Bumplo to be a unifying brand and platform for connection between providers and parents, helping connect these two audiences as effectively as possible is intrinsic to our name and brand. The value of making greater connections and being part of a wider community as a parent is at the heart of our brand identity.
What did you do to get your business out there at the start?
As it is only now launching to the public, I started with conversations with the class providers I used directly as a parent to flesh out the concept and how it could best work for them, then I used social media as a platform to freely support providers who were already providing classes and services and helping to connect them with parents through social media first and foremost.
What role does social media play in your business?
Social media is very important as businesses share a lot of great content on it and parents spend a lot of time on it, so it is a huge resource and source of support for parents already so building on that is important while also having somewhere to voice our brand and socially engage with our audiences is important to developing our community online too.
What did you do before you launched your business?
I am a primary school teacher so I am on a career break at the moment. I love kids and I love teaching but I also realise that a lot of our learning and development also happens outside of school hours too and that the activities we engage in throughout our life outside school can greatly shape and mould our identities. Being able to support camps and extracurricular activities for kids as they get older is also important at Bumplo because as a parent I don’t want to use one booking system to book my prenatal class on and then have to use a completely separate, lengthy booking process to book my older child into their activity. We aim to put the parent in the driving seat when it comes to managing their family schedule.
What female founder inspires you?
On a global scale, I am greatly inspired by founder of Spanx Sara Blakely, founder of Bumble, Whitney Wolfe Herd and Melanie Perkins founder of Canva. They all have such inspiring stories to tell and have all been hugely successful at empowering their consumer as simply as possible, while building wildly successful brands and companies. Closer to home I am really inspired by Vanessa Creavan and her sister Lisa, founders of Spotlight Oral Care and how they have gone from strength to strength both here and now abroad too. They are also both juggling motherhood too, they are really inspiring young women.
What other Irish businesses do you admire?
I am really inspired by Spotlight Oral Care and how reactive they are to product innovation and how in-tune they are with consumer desires. I am also inspired by Gym + Coffee and how they have people and community at the heart of their brand identity and mission. I am also really inspired by Pat Kane at Reuzi, her messaging, what she stands for and how she has become such a strong voice for sustainability in Ireland.
If you could give one piece of business advice what would it be?
I wish I could take my own advice but: “just start”, fear holds us all back from going after something new, but just try it out, start small and tease out your idea and test it as soon and as simply as you can. I would also say, lean in to your own intuition and to what excites you, what you feel strongly about. If you don’t feel passionate enough about your idea, your interest will wane, make it fun. I think we can all take ‘business’ too seriously at times.
What’s your five year plan?
I would like to have become the number one online destination for parents to find and book activities in Ireland and the UK market, and have scaled and grown Bumplo into other international markets too. I want Bumplo to become the ‘booking.com’ of the parenting world.
How do you create a work/life balance?
I find it hard to switch off mentally, especially at this early stage I feel my mind is always brimming with ideas. Having a lot of time with my boys is also really important for me so I work two long days while the kids go to a local childminder and the other days I work in and around their schedules. Like most parents I am not great at carving out self-care time but I do try to walk or run at least two or three times a week with a friend, without the kids, and that time-out for me is vital! My evenings are precious for headspace and getting my own things done or just chilling out too.
How do you look after yourself to avoid burnout?
The runs/ walks in the fresh air help, I also think self-talk is important and allowing ourselves more unproductive time. I am terrible, like many, for expecting a lot from myself and beating myself up for not achieving ten million things. Just giving myself a break from that negative talk is really important I think. We have to be kinder to ourselves and stop being our own worst critic. I also think asking for help and delegating some of the menial daily chores we have as parents is important too, so whether it’s with laundry, cleaning or whatever you feel impacts your energy and time it’s worth seeking help for what you are struggling to keep on top of. I’d rather invest in a house-cleaner than shoes or handbags any day!
What keeps you going?
In business, the desire to empower parents and the amazing providers who support them along their parenting journey and also to make parenting more enjoyable, more fun! Parenting can be so isolating, confusing and overwhelming. I want Bumplo to help make it easier for parents to feel empowered, connected and access whatever it is they want or need to support them in their busy lives, while also being able to do so with one hand, in a few simple clicks, while sleep-deprived!
In my personal life, I constantly check in with myself to remind myself how lucky I am to have my three little boys, my amazing husband, an incredible loving family and to simply be alive, I don’t take life for granted so I try to counteract my negative thoughts with gratitude and take stock, I have a lot to be lucky enough to keep going for.