No entrepreneur can predict the future, but that shouldn’t stop you from making an educated guess. While still in business school, this founder identified a potential buyer for her company–even though she hadn’t started it yet. Ten years later, the fanciful notion proved to be prophetic.
What made you feel ready to sell Happy Family?
It wasn’t a milestone as much as it was a personal event in my life–when my son was diagnosed with autism just after his second birthday. Getting to scale on a business that serves a vulnerable population was always going to be the driver of when it was the right time. The autism diagnosis was what pushed us to do that sooner rather than later.
You wrote in your business plan that Danone would be a good buyer for Happy Family. How did you pick Danone so early on?
It was the one player that I thought would be a fit because of capability, historical mindset around sustainability, and dedication to mission. And the fact that it was the second-largest infant nutrition company in the world.
What was the transition period like after the sale?
It was bittersweet. I stayed a partner in the business until I left as CEO, which was January 2018. You’re used to being the Chief Mom and then all of a sudden you’re the Chair Mom and you’re not really making the day-to-day decisions. But you’re also excited because you’ve created a really wonderful organization and the team believes in the mission so strongly that you know they’ll make the right choices. So, in a way, it’s like letting go, but letting go proudly.
You launched your nontoxic baby brand, Healthynest, this fall. Why start a new business?
I almost feel like Healthynest is an extension of the original mission, which is to truly change children’s health. Here in the U.S., we need regulatory standards to live by for our babies, which did not exist in the diaper category. You’re just trusting each brand. So I set about creating a diaper that I could believe in and that could meet a really high standard. Once I learned things that affected my own family’s health, I felt like it was my duty to launch the second business.
From the November 2020 issue of Inc. Magazine
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