Monday Mumpreneur with Mandy Haberman
They share with us their motivation, their challenges and their proudest moments in business and they also tell us how they take time to nurture themselves.
If you’re looking for inspiration, then our featured business mums show you what’s possible. Our message is “If we can do it ~ then so can you!”
I defy anyone not to be inspired by our featured business mum this week.
Not only did she invent a household name from a passion to help others, but put everything on the line to protect her product.
Name: Mandy Haberman
Your website: www.mandyhaberman.com
Brief description site
My website tells the story of how I became a successful inventor and entrepreneur from scratch. When I started out I was a mum and a total novice in the world of business, intellectual property and law. If you've got an invention, I hope my website will inspire you to get out there and 'GO FOR IT' too.
How many children do you have? Nadia and Ben (twins) 33 yrs old, Emily 32 yrs. Grandchildren – Jacob 3yrs, Murray 2yrs and baby Sadie 3 months.
Where do you live?
We split our time between our homes in Hertfordshire, Marylebone, UK and Aix en Provence in France
PC or Mac? PC in London, Mac everywhere else. Can’t wait to be totally Macified.
Tell us about your business
I’ve been an inventor and entrepreneur since the early 1980s. In the past, the way that I have worked has been to develop a product then set up a company to bring it to market. Once that product was well established in the market, I licensed the technology and moved on to the next project. However, my new business Haberman Products Ltd will bring a full range of products to market, under the Anywayup® brand. We will run this business to exit.
What motivated you to become a mumpreneur?
I became a mumpreneur really as a result of circumstances and necessity. Originally, I was a freelance graphic designer and when I first got pregnant, I planned to go back to work. However, the baby turned out to be babies, Nadia and Ben and my plans went out of the window. Then, 18 months later, Emily came along with a medical condition called Stickler’s Syndrome. This meant that she couldn’t breast or bottle feed and had to be kept in hospital for four very long and stressful months, being fed through a tube. Our lives were dominated by hospitals and clinics. I wasn’t allowed to bring Emily home from hospital until she could feed orally. Eventually, I improvised a solution to her feeding problems.
I was angry and upset that there had been nothing available to help Emily. So finally, when she was two years old, I set to work developing my seed of an idea into a finished product to help other families, so that nobody else would have to go through the misery that we had been through. The Haberman® Feeder was born.
I hadn’t planned on going into business to sell the Haberman Feeder myself but, when I approached commercial baby-bottle companies, they told me that they were only interested in big volume sales and, whilst they could see a definite need for my product, it wasn’t for them. Determined that I would succeed in making the Feeder available to those who needed it, I set up my own business from my kitchen table, supplying hospitals and parents by mail order. That was my first introduction into the world of intellectual property and business.
What’s been your biggest challenge in business and how did you overcome it?
For me, the biggest challenge came when I started my second business in the mid 1990s. It was a two-fold challenge; firstly breaking into the market and secondly, surviving the industry response to our arrival.
I had invented a product called the Anywayup® cup. It was the worlds first totally non-spill children’s trainer cup. Drink only flowed when the spout was sucked. It sealed automatically, as soon as it came out of the child’s mouth so, even if it was shaken or thrown on the floor, it didn’t spill a drop.
For this business to be viable, we needed big volume sales, and that meant getting into the major supermarket chains. Even though the benefits were clear, trying to convince the supermarkets to stock the Anywayup cup was incredibly difficult. None of them would deal with a one-product company. I knew that it was a great product that mums desperately wanted it, but they all rejected us. It was so frustrating!
We were determined to succeed. The buyers had all said ‘No’ so we had nothing to loose. We took a massive risk. We filled an Anywayup cup with juice, and placed it loose inside a large white box. Then, we posted it to the head buyer of Tesco, with a note that read, ‘If this reaches you as a soggy mess, then we have shot ourselves in the foot. BUT, if it reaches you without spilling, please call us!’
After four painful days of waiting, the phone rang…my trusty Anywayup cup hadn’t spilt a drop. We had made the magic ‘real’ to the buyer and now she ‘got it’. We were in! Other supermarkets followed and within our first 18 months of trading we were in all the major supermarket chains and our business was in profit.
Once it was on the supermarket shelves, the Anywayup cup rapidly achieved 40% UK market share and 75% in Germany. As you can imagine, our industry competitors were not happy! The former market leader, Tommee Tippee, decided to fight back with an infringing product. Our sales plummeted almost overnight.
We realised that we had to stop them and set a precedent, otherwise others would copy and our business would collapse. It was a huge risk to take, I even put my house on the line, but it was worth it. Thankfully, my patent was judged to be both valid and infringed so I won the case and they had to stop selling their product. That was the first of many legal battles. I have since taken on major corporations in the USA as well but, because I have enforced my patents, companies now request licenses, rather than risk infringment. I have a bit of a reputation!
What’s been your proudest business moment?
It’s hard to decide which has been my proudest moment. There have been lots of highs in my business career.
The earliest one was the first time I tried out the prototype Haberman Feeder. I took it into a hospital special care baby ward. A mother was in tears, as she sat trying to feed her baby. We introduced the Haberman and immediately her baby was able to feed. Then, we all cried – tears of joy.
Another great moment was when I won the David and Goliath legal battle against Tommee Tippee. Although, I think that high was more from relief than pride!
I did feel pretty proud when I was invited by the Queen to a reception at Buckingham Palace for being a ‘Pioneer to the Life of the Nation’ in 2003.
What’s your catchphrase or favourite quote?
‘Just DO IT’ - It is sensible to be cautious and consider the options but sometimes you can over-think things. Business involves risk. Sometimes you just have to be brave and go with your gut instinct. Better to go for it and deal with the consequences, if and when they occur, than not progress at all.
What do you do to relax or nurture yourself?
If I just need a quick fix, I go for a walk but when ever I can, I indulge myself by going over to our apartment in Aix en Provence. As soon as I walk through Marseille airport I can feel myself unwinding.
What was the last treat you bought for yourself?
A Neil’s Yard massage. It was wonderful!
I love rich, warm colours. My favourite is plum
I prefer to see flowers growing, rather than cut. My favourite are the lavender fields of Provence. The amazing lavender colour against the red ochre soil and the turquoise blue sky. I can smell them already!
What one piece of advice would you like to give to a new mumpreneur?
My one piece of advice is – do your homework. Make sure that your product, or service, satisfies a real need and fulfils a gap in the market that isn’t being adequately met by anything else. In today’s financial climate, people will only spend money on things that they really can’t do without.
And another piece of advice……! Passion, determination and commitment are essential. You have to really go for it. Setting up a business is tough. It’s going to involve a lot of juggling and compromise, and, at times, you’ll probably feel pretty stressed out. But it is extremely fulfilling and exciting. It can be a roller coaster ride but, on the up side, you will probably get an adrenalin buzz from the lows as well as the highs!
It’s really important to make sure that you have a great support network of family and friends around you when setting up a business. Sometimes you just need that extra reassurance from your loved ones that you can do it. Women frequently have difficulty in talking themselves ‘up’. Even if we are brilliant at doing something, we tend to say’ I’m quite good at…’ So, believe in yourself. There are plenty of support networks out there for mumpreneurs which are definitely worth a look. Visit www.moretolifethanshoes.com and www.shesingenious.org for truly female inspiration, motivation and encouragement.
Fancy featuring as one of our amazing mumpreneurs? Drop me an email over on the contact page - and I’ll be in touch. Or let me know in a comment below. And remember to drop by every Monday to welcome our latest profiled mum.