Past winners ride out recession, grow business
Posted on Wednesday, 02.16.11
Past winners ride out recession, grow businesses
BY NANCY DAHLBERG
Special to The Miami Herald
Sometimes winning the Business Plan Challenge is just the first step in an entrepreneurial journey.
Take Baby Abuelita, for example. The team behind the singing Hispanic dolls won second place in 2005.
Since then, the product family that started with grandparent dolls that croon lullabies in Spanish now has four babies. Baby Javier, the first boy toddler doll, came out last year after numerous customer requests and was one of the best sellers during the holiday season, said co-founder and CEO Carol Fenster.
One area of growth for the company is the education market. Baby Abuelita dolls and their story were featured in a 2010-2011 Houghten Mifflan Harcourt 3rd grade math textbook for the State of Florida.
In addition, Baby Abuelita self-produced two direct-to-home animated DVDs that feature its characters in episodes that are designed to educate on a variety of topics as well as entertain and further preserve traditional musical culture. In the coming year, it hopes to add a major media partner that will allow the company to leverage the animated content it has created to further build the brand and drive product sales, Fenster said.
Future growth plans include creating other ethnic versions of the grandparent dolls as well as the production of a children’s television series based on the Baby Abuelita characters, Fenster said.
Baby Abuelita was a presenting company at Florida International University’s Americas Venture Capital Conference last fall, and won its FedEx Access to Global Markets Prize, $10,000 in in-kind services.
“Like all small businesses, Baby Abuelita has faced significant challenges over the last two years in particular.” Fenstersaid. “But I am happy to report that we have weathered the storm and we are moving full steam ahead in growing our company.”
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