Babypalooza is a go-to resource for parents because they make preparing for a baby fun and easy by offering impactful baby expos and a trusted community before, during, and after the show. They are one of the few parent-support media and event businesses that survived the 2007/2008 recession and the COVID-19 pandemic.
CEO and founder of Babypalooza, Cecilia Pearson, has been in media for 25+ years. She started Babypalooza as a side hustle: “I worked 6 months a year, 3 days a week, and enjoyed my life of leisure.” While working for other media companies, she noticed a persistent gap in the publication resources for parents in the Southeast. Her vision was to give parents a space to tell their stories by publishing a glossy newsstand magazine with well-written, high-quality stories and beautiful photos to help parents connect with local resources and each other.
Over the last three years, Babypalooza began a transition from a “small business” to a “startup.” Cecilia wants to create a lasting legacy. She knows that even the most successful privately-owned small businesses rarely last longer than three generations, and that is if they can make it past the perilous first five years! Cecilia’s strategy: learn, grow, and add value to others.
She shares, “Three years ago I realized I had an opportunity to add technology to Babypalooza to create something scalable, so I could do more in the second half of my life. To be a mentor and hopefully an investor and help others—specifically women entrepreneurs—understand how to scale.” The transition from being “a small lifestyle business” to “a startup” has been profound: the structure and fundamentals of a startup are to allow the business to scale, not just grow.
Cecilia explains: “I would see founders at Innovation Depot really scaling up and would wonder ‘what are they doing?’ I would see them writing on their whiteboards and all of that, but what were they doing? What did they know? I didn’t know what they knew, but I knew I could learn it. That’s how I spent my COVID vacation—going through accelerators and trying to understand how to build a scalable business, which is totally different. It’s different in the type of team you build, the money you raise, and the infrastructure you create.”
Babypalooza is taking advantage of a COVID-driven market opportunity. Pre-pandemic, there were several large, national, well-known baby expo brands, but as Cecilia explains, “They went out of business during COVID because they didn’t have any kind of digital component…my goal is to establish the Babypalooza brand in the larger cities where those brands were.”
Babypalooza held its first in-person, post-pandemic event at Innovation Depot in March. Despite the snow, Birmingham-area parents and parents-to-be showed up. “We did it specifically at Innovation Depot because it was an opportunity to show off The Depot to let people know that we have this cool epicenter of technology and resources. Some of the other Depot tenants like Wyndy, Fledging, and MainStreet exhibited and were able to connect with parents, too. Attendees loved the facility.”
Cecilia is one of the most natural and effortlessly entrepreneurial people working in Innovation Depot. She is an entrepreneur at her core, who wants to build a business that matters as well as a legacy that lasts. She makes it look easy (it’s not!) and enjoys the thrill of the journey.
To all the mothers and mompreneurs out there, Innovation Depot wants to support and celebrate you. Happy Mother’s Day!