Parenting

How two ex-investment bankers built the world’s best baby app

By Oliver Smith 11 January 2016
Baby Bundle Anthony Nick von Christierson
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Anthony and Nick von Christierson.
Summary

From Goldman Sachs to babies gurgling: the story of how the von Christierson brothers left banking to build Baby Bundle.

Anthony and Nick von Christierson are the most unlikely of entrepreneurs.

In the spring of 2013 the two brothers worked as investment banking analysts at Goldman Sachs and Greenhill & Co respectively. Just 12 months later later the von Christierson’s would launch one of the world’s best baby apps, despite neither brother being married or having a child themselves.

“Once we’d both hit that three year mark in the City, we decided we had to get out of there,” Nick told The Memo.

The brothers wanted to create an app and start their own business, there was just one problem, neither had any experience in technology or any idea of the kind of app they wanted to create.

“We really knew our business had to be based around an app, but then what really brought it all together was having a discussion with a friend’s wife who had just had a baby,” says Nick.

Their friend’s wife had half a dozen baby apps on her smartphone which all had different features, from growth charts to health tips and feeding timers.

She told the brothers how maddening it was having to switch between them all every day, and that was when they came across their idea to put all of these features in a single app.

Baby Bundle was born.

“It was a bonkers idea, especially given the fact that neither of us have kids or are married. But we knew we were on to something.”

The lightbulb moment

“We realised just how fragmented this market is, every mother we spoke to had two or three apps, all doing different things,” says Nick.

There were also other challenges in the baby app market. Some of the highest ranking baby apps in Britain were US apps like Web MD Baby, which included growth charts and vaccination schedules that didn’t translate for babies in Britain.

The brothers settled on the idea of building an app which combined key baby utilities, like a feeding clock, growth trackers, vaccination schedules and more, complemented with localised health information.

Today while the app is free, is has evolved to include paid premium features like the ability to turn two iPhones running into an ad-hoc baby monitor, a cloud service to share your child’s data with a spouse and the ability to store data on more than one baby.

Baby Bun

Meeting Mumsnet

The app was pretty ambitious and took a year for the brothers to build, but that was just the start.

After launching initially in the US it wasn’t long before Mumsnet, Britain’s largest website for parents, spoke to Anthony and Nick with an offer to co-brand Baby Bundle and promote the app as the official Mumsnet app for parents.

“Mumsnet is the most recognised parenting brand in the UK and it also fits in with our business model,” says Nick. “We learnt that promotion from Apple on the App Store quickly wears off, so to keep acquiring users having a co-branded app with Mumsnet eliminates all the cost of acquisition for us.”

This year Anthony and Nick are preparing to launch an Arabic version of Baby Bundle across the Middle East having signed a deal to co-brand the app with Mumzworld, one of the largest online baby retailers in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt and the UAE.

They are also currently in talks with one of Europe’s largest online baby retailers in Germany and have their eyes on launching in countries like Australia, South Africa and India in the future.

Growing up

“Every day has been a steep learning curve for us, first we had to learn about parenting from nothing then we had to learn how to actually build an app,” says Nick, recalling the early months of Baby Bundle when the brothers spent their days deep in parenting books.

Today the von Christierson’s are focused on international expansion, taking what they believe is a winning formula with Baby Bundle and spreading it around the world.

They also have high hopes for new business models which could be developed alongside Baby Bundle. With thousands of mothers using their app to track the size, weight and feeding habits of children in the US and Britain, this anonymised data could be the next chapter for Baby Bundle.

“The World Health Organisation update their growth charts for some countries every decade, for the NHS red book in the UK that was last updated in the mid-2000s… Baby Bundle has aggregated real time data that could be useful for governments, insurance companies or businesses in the future,” says Nick.

But that’s a way off, for now the brothers are still taking baby steps to bring Baby Bundle around the world.

“Things take a long time, longer than expected,” says Nick, looking back over the last two years.

But Baby Bundle is growing up fast.