The folks at Stork Stack like to think of their newborn-themed subscription service as “serendipity delivered monthly to a mom’s doorstep.” And each month is guaranteed to be an adorable surprise.
The husband-and-wife team of this Chicago-based startup, Chris Nakutis and Liz Eavey, founded Stork Stack with “Chief Mommy Officer” Terri McCabe in March 2012 to rave reviews. Featuring products from nutritional snacks and teething toys to sippy cups and workout videos for mom, Stork Stack partners with leading and innovative baby product companies, carefully curated from all over.
We chatted with ever-busy co-founder Chris Nakutis about his startup almost a year after delivering his first Stock Stack bundles. He explains why a growing startup like his is much like raising a baby.
We loved working on this site and its playful branding. To read a case study of our work with Stork Stack, visit our portfolio.
Doejo: In the almost year that Stork Stack has been launched, how has the company grown?
Nakutis: Much like a baby, we have grown from a newborn, to an infant, and finally to a toddler. When we first launched in early 2012, the company began as two of our founders sitting in their dining room shipping to friends and family around the Chicagoland area. Luckily, we grew from newborn to infant very quickly, and we were shipping to members in all 50 states after our 2nd month. Since then, we have expanded our membership base to thousands of moms across the country, and our team has expanded from 2 people to 6 people. We still have a long way to go, but we are excited about our ‘not-so’-terrible 2s!
What feedback have you been receiving from Stork Stack subscribers? What’s surprised you?
I think what has been most surprising is just how vocal our members are on Facebook and Twitter. Customer Service and using Social Media to interact with our members was always part of our engagement strategy, but I don’t think we had any idea that the true power of Social Media is it allows us to build real relationships with our members. The feedback has been incredible, and when our members love a product in a Stack, we hear about it almost immediately, and so do our partners, which is a very nice feeling.
Besides Stork Stack, what is your favorite subscription service? And what are they doing right?
Subscription services have really come into their own in the past 12-18 months, and there are a lot of great companies out there. I love my subscription to BirchBox Man, and I really love what Kiwi Crate is doing for kids in the age group above us, but my favorite subscription service besides Stork Stack has to be BarkBox. As you can guess, BarkBox is the perfect subscription for your favorite member of your family after your kids. It was created by Mark Meeker (the co-founder of Meetup.com), and they are extremely innovative. BarkBox is constantly evolving the product offering, which is necessary in a startup. Definitely check out their mobile app as it is very cutting edge for mobile commerce.
Why do you think subscription services seem to be gaining so much popularity in the digital startup scene?
Subscription commerce has gained popularity because it provides consumers with two things: simplicity and discovery.
Simplicity: It is now easier and more cost effective to ship products that are purchased online, and so consumers are making more and more purchases away from brick-and-mortar stores. Subscriptions take simplicity a step further as you don’t even need to place the order. It happens automatically.
Discovery: We have seen the emergence of the small and medium sized businesses in the past few years. Whereas people were focused almost solely on the cost of products 10-15 years ago, and therefore purchased from large corporations that could scale a produce inexpensive products overseas, consumers today are more focused on other factors, whatever they may be: ‘Made in the USA,’ eco-friendly. This is not exclusively in the baby products industry, just look at the emergence of farmer’s markets, Etsy, and even craft beers.
I believe that consumerism has changed immensely in the past few years and will continue to evolve, and during this time, people need an avenue to learn about these ‘small batch’ companies.
What’s been one of your favorite Stork Stack products this year?
This is a tough question, because all of the companies we work with create amazing products, but if I had to choose one, it would be WubbaNubs. If you haven’t seen them, WubbaNubs are stuffed animals attached to pacifiers. The first time I saw a one, I thought to myself: “How was this not created before?” Simple, but so innovative, and definitely the hit of our Shower Stacks.
How does Stork Stack benefit its product suppliers and what kind of feedback are you able to offer these companies?
We benefit our product partners in a number of ways, and it is different for each company. For small businesses across the country, Stork Stack is a great way to spread the word about their company and distribute products. We ship to all 50 states, and so we are one of the best ways to target a large and diverse audience, especially for small business that find it hard to compete for shelf space vs. the much larger brands. Larger businesses use Stork Stack as one piece of a larger marketing plan, and a way to really connect with their current customers. Personalization is key and we have a strong relationship with each parent in our family.
What would you like Stork Stack to accomplish in 2013?
Our #1 goal is always to make parents’ lives easier. When we are able to do this, everything else falls into place. We have some initiatives in place that will help us to expand the Stork Stack brand and provide more smiles to parents across the country, but those are TOP SECRET right now.
What “lesson-learned” advice would you give to first time startups?
This is a great question. The best advice I received was to stay agile in every aspect of the business. An entrepreneur must be willing and able to adapt quickly because assumptions shift on a dime, and if your startup doesn’t adjust, you will be left behind. The other advice is to have fun. A successful startup is extremely hard work, and will create a lot of stressful situations. It’s not a picnic, and so you have to remind yourself every once in a while to relax, remember why you are an entrepreneur, breathe and have fun.