Hanna Lim, President and Co-Founder of LollaLand has passion and determination flowing in her veins. While her husband Mark was in business school she realized that there was open space in the infant and toddler industry that would change the way baby’s drink forever. She immediately took her thoughts to action and is now partners with Mark Cuban and Robert Herjavec from Shark Tank.
Lolla Land is Born
When my first daughter was nine-months-old, I was at a restaurant, and I put a straw to her lips and was surprised to see her drink from a straw with ease. I immediately purchased several toddler straw cups, and realized that my daughter could not get a sip out of any of them because the spill-proof valves made them extremely difficult to suck from. That’s when the idea for the Lollacup was born. I wanted to create a straw sippy cup that would eliminate challenges for my child, be easy to use and clean, and be made in the USA, with safety in mind. Although my experience with these toddler cups was my “aha” moment, it wasn’t until I shared my idea with friends and attended an industry tradeshow to scope out the competition that I knew it had the potential to be a real business. When I came up with the idea, I had quit teaching and was a stay-at-home mom. Mark had a full-time job and was attending business school part-time, so I ran the idea by him, first. He challenged me to work on it from home, and if, by the time he graduated from business school, we both agreed it was still a viable business idea, we’d both commit to it fully. By his graduation, I had written a 30-page business plan, lined up graphic artists, industrial engineers, and a manufacturer, so we went for it.
Have a Great Idea You Want To Launch? Here Are Some Things To Consider:
Be as thorough as you can, and do your homework before making a move and acting on a business idea. Don’t be afraid to get candid feedback about the product/service from friends, family, and strangers, even. Once you get the validation of end-users, talk to store owners and buyers, as well as other small business owners. The worst thing you can do is pour money and time into starting a business or launching a product that no one wants to support. Visit relevant tradeshows to study your competitors thoroughly, and talk to everyone you can. Also, I highly recommend writing a business plan. It forces you to crunch the numbers, plan for the long-term, and is a must-have to secure funding or partners.
Technology Should Be Your Best Friend
The quickly changing landscape of technology impacts us in many ways. 5 years ago when we launched the company, our primary methods of marketing were word-of-mouth, mommy blogs, buying expensive ads, and hoping for some editorial coverage in print publications. Now, we are finding that a picture is worth a thousand words on social media. Simply being seen on Instagram could result in a bump in sales. Technology has helped us connect with our customers as well, especially after appearing on Shark Tank. Operationally, technology has helped streamline our processes and allowed us to grow while maintaining a relatively small team.
Up Close With The Sharks
Seeing, first-hand, how hard both Mark and Robert work has been hugely motivational. As investors, they could easily take a back seat, but we are always surprised by how much time they are able to carve out for us; they are always the first to respond to late-night emails and challenge us with a dose of tough love. We email Mark, Robert and their respective teams weekly. We’ve probably met in-person once a year. Lollaland was one of Mark and Robert’s early investments through Shark Tank. Over the years, they have both built incredible teams to support their small businesses with assistance in strategic planning, business development, accounting, and graphic/web design.
Find What’s Right For Your Business
We went on Shark Tank when we had been in business for 3 months. We needed money for more inventory and thought it would be a good way to get the word out about our fledgling company, but seeking out a partnership is not the only way to grow and succeed. There are so many great platforms to start out in small batches, get the product right, and grow organically: kickstarter, etsy, amazon. Strategic partners can be helpful, but it’s definitely not a prerequisite for having a successful business.
Will Technology Force Change?
Yes and no. Babies are always being born and will always need every day basics, like bottles, diapers, and formula. However, as with many industries, people are always solving problems with new innovations or making improvements upon existing products. To make it even more challenging, consumers’ attention spans can be short-lived. With technology and social media playing such a big part in our everyday lives, people are always looking to move onto the next best thing. We need to constantly stay fresh in customers’ minds, because obtaining brand loyalty is incredibly challenging. If what we are offering isn’t innovative or a solid product, customers will quickly lose interest. We hope to continue to add 1-2 products a year to our product line, and we hope to grow into a lifestyle brand within the baby industry.
Hanna and her husband Mark are the owners of Lollaland, and they create innovative infant & toddler goods that are functional & fun. What began as LollaCup has now grown into Lollaland. Their award-winning products are BPA-/BPS-, PVC-, phthalate-free and proudly made in the USA or Germany. They are dedicated to providing safe, smart feeding choices for babies and toddlers. Discerning parents and gift-givers love that Lollaland products are focused on high design, are beautifully packaged, and ready-to-gift, you and your family with enjoy!