Katie Szczepaniak Rice is the co-founder and CEO of BabyPage, an online and mobile platform that allows parents to easily track their children’s milestones and build a book along the way. Katie holds a bachelor of Science in engineering from MIT and an MBA from the University of Chicago. Though busy with her growing business, she continues to support the entrepreneurial ecosystem by being a board member of ABQid, HauteHopes and the Coronado Ventures Forum. With prestigious awards such as New Mexico’s “40 under Forty” and NM Tech Council’s “Women in Technology,” Katie still finds time to be a loving wife and mother of two young children in her adopted hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
The idea for BabyPage was born when I realized I had no time for a traditional scrapbook style baby book for my second child. I started one for my son, my first kiddo, and even though I never finished it, it was meaningful to me, and I wanted something of that nature for my daughter. Of course I knew about various ways to build a photo book online, but I wanted a way to describe and document what my kids were like at every stage of babyhood and childhood to go along with the photos, and I didn’t have time to write up an entire baby book in one sitting. I started talking to other parents and learned that many of them had searched for the product I envisioned. Given my background in venture capital, strategy and startups, I decided to go after the opportunity. I recruited a talented co-founder, Yasine Armstrong, also a busy mom, and we co-founded the company to build an amazing product for busy parents just like us.
Tell us about your business.
BabyPage is an online and mobile platform that makes it easy for busy parents to capture their children’s milestones and build beautiful books over time. We do so with fun and easy prompts dictated by the age of the child and the time of year, and our natural language algorithm converts the prompts into the content of each babypage. The user pulls in photos, tweaks the content if they’d like, and they capture milestones as they go. Once they’re ready, the can combine any of the babypages to purchase a book or other printed products.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
Yes! Readers can use code “babypage10blog” to receive 10% off their entire purchase on BabyPage, and the discount can be used toward plus subscriptions as well. This code expires June 30th.
- B.S. degree in engineering from MIT.
- M.B.A. degree from University of Chicago.
- Named a New Mexico “40 Under Forty” business leader in 2013.
- Received “Women in Technology” award form NM Tech Council in 2015.
Where is your business based?
Albuquerque, New Mexico.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
I told myself early on that I would go after the opportunity if I could:
- Recruit a world class team
- Develop a solid business model
So those were the first two steps I took, starting with my amazing co-founder, Yasine. With the core team and business model, I set out to raise seed funding to build the beta version of our platform.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
For us, digital ads have been by far the most effective customer acquisition tool. We also love to partner with amazing brands and influencers.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
The ups and downs of a startup pose lots of challenges, which is both tough and exciting at the same time, and those of us drawn to the startup entrepreneurial scene tend to be ok rolling with both the opportunities and challenges. I’d say our biggest challenge has been the technical development since our platform involves a lot of functionality and a lot of systems that all work together. It’s a challenge, but it’s exciting and fun to build technology that makes life easier for busy parents.
How did you overcome these challenges?
We have an excellent team and we’re recruiting to expand it, and I think we’ve effectively used our networks to look for great team members. Hiring someone who comes highly recommended by someone you trust or admire tends to lead to great results.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
On tough days, I remind myself that our product makes busy parents very happy, which does wonders to motivate me to keep moving forward. Spending time in the great outdoors also helps me personally bring balance to my outlook, and a quick break for a walk is something I do to clear my head and focus on tough days. I love to hike and trail run, and getting out on the trails often with my family helps me tremendously and brings me back to a balanced place, ready to tackle big challenges.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
BabyPage makes it easy to for parents to capture their children’s milestones over time, and we do so with fun and easy prompts dictated by the age of the child and time of year, and a natural language algorithm converts the prompts into the content of each babypage which includes photos the parent pulls in. The parent can tweak and edit each babypage, and once she saves a few, she can combine any of the babypages and other content saved within the BabyPage dashboard into a beautiful book or other printed products. We help parents capture every stage of childhood.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
This is not recent advice, but some of the best advice I’ve received is to remember that “just because you can, doesn’t mean that you should.” When building a startup, focus is an important factor, and taking on too many objectives can be tough with limited resources. This means passing on certain opportunities, even those that may be lucrative in the short term, if they don’t contribute to the ultimate goals that will successfully establish your company or brand.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
At every stage of building your business, recruit and work with exceptional people who are both excellent at what they do and a great fit for the culture of your team. Do not underestimate the importance of the culture fit part of team building. At every stage, keep in mind what you must achieve to increase the value of your business, and as mentioned above, don’t take on all projects or opportunities if they’re not in line with your goals.
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why?
I rely heavily on Slack for my team for communication, document sharing, and moving projects forward.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
We are recruiting technical team members, especially those with experience building exceptional consumer facing web and mobile products. We are also adding resources focused on digital marketing and customer acquisition. If anyone reading this would like to learn more, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
We plan to add many fantastic features to the platform over the next few months, and we’re also working on launching our mobile app. We have a fantastic team working on these initiatives, and we’re recruiting to expand the team as well.
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