Babylist, the decade-old registry platform that also operates as an e-commerce and content hub for new parents, just announced a $40 million Series C funding round, led by Norwest Venture Partners.
“We’ve successfully operated in an overlooked, yet massive category, serving an unmet need for millions of new parents and their extended families,” says Natalie Gordon, founder and CEO of Babylist. She says the new funding will focus on establishing a physical presence for Babylist as well as expansion overseas. She declined to comment on company valuation.
In 2011, just two weeks after giving birth to her first son, Gordon created the first version of Babylist. While deciding between two strollers, one of the priciest items on any newborn’s registry, she felt the e-commerce experience for new parents needed a serious upgrade.
“First-time parents don’t know what they need,” says Gordon, a former software engineer at Amazon. “There’s no universal resource, there’s lots of marketing, gimmicks and solutions that are all conflicting.” She also realized that the way baby registries were built needed a bump up. “There is no way you can find everything you need in one store.”
To ease the process, Babylist offers a single ecommerce affiliate platform with access to hundreds of vendors. “We want to empower first-time parents so the recommendations are not constrained to just one store,” Gordon says. “Babylist works across retailers.”
The site also relies on data and expert-driven content to guide parents through critical (and not so critical) purchasing decisions, from the safest car seats and carriers to the cutest onesies.
Bundling itself as an online authority and marketplace has proven to be a winning formula for Babylist. The company claimed $130 million in revenue last year, up from $54 million in 2019. Revenue for this year is projected to reach $250 million, as registrants and their loved ones get web-savvier about online gifting platforms.
“As a sleeping giant in a market that’s expected to reach $88.7 billion in the next five years, Babylist has solidified its position as a category leader with unmatched visibility into the trends and opportunities in the parenting economy,” says Sonya Brown, general partner at Norwest Ventures.
Headquartered in Oakland, California, with more than 100 employees, Babylist has been “steady and deliberate” since its launch, Gordon says of her strategy. “Ten years ago, the biggest feedback I received was that I would love to use Babylist as my registry but my mother-in-law or my great aunt would not understand the platform,” she says. “Now, a decade later in 2021 we never hear that.”
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While Babylist—which had more than 8 million registry users in the past year—has a diversified business model, Gordon says it simply addresses the pain points she faced when building her first registry as a new mother. “With our first child we needed the stroller, the baby carrier, and the car seat,” she recalls, “but the most meaningful gift was having someone to come to our house at 7 a.m. to walk our German shepherd.” In addition to gift cards and cash funds, the website’s Meaningful Gifts feature allows one to register for favors like home-cooked meals, house cleaning and other priceless gifts.
Gordon says the new $40 million funding round will help expand the Babylist shopping experience to brick-and-mortar locations. “We want to bring the digital experience to real life in an inventory-light way. The pop-ups are part of our long-term growth plans as well as international expansion.”
The CEO, whose children are now 6 and 10, notes that after 10 years as a profitable business and, it has become a bit easier to pitch her parent-focused platform to investors. (Before this Series C, Babylist previously raised less than $11 million). Says Gordon, “Investors were surprised Babylist reached that scale with so little capital, it’s an outlier to other companies that pitch to them, mom-product or not.”
Says Brown, who is also a new member of the board at Babylist, “The growth and profitability that Natalie and the Babylist team have been able to achieve, especially in light of how little outside funding they’ve raised, is what initially caught our attention. Their approach to growth has been steady, measured and mature every step of the way – really setting Babylist apart from so many companies that will grow at all costs.”