My name is Alec Dobbie and I am 37.
Tell us about your family
I live in a family of 4. I am husband to my beautiful wife Nicola and Dad to my 2 boys, Jack who is 6 and Tom who is 3 ½ – For better or worse they are both like a little me.
What did you do before coming up with your business idea and how was it making the transition?
Director of my own company Dobbie & Sons, and I have developed software for the likes of Xansa, Shell and Halifax to name but a few. Running Your Baby Club hasn’t been too much of a change as I manage all the tech side of the business and have brought in some talented people to manage other areas.
When did you launch?
It was on 28 March 2012 when a user first made a claim on our site and we haven’t looked back since.
How did you get started?
Being a career software guy and first time father I saw a way of modernising the baby based sampling business, ensuring new mothers received the deals and offers that were most suitable for them and stopping their details from being sold.
I conceived the idea for Your Baby Club after the birth of our first son, when my wife Nicola began signing up to some well-known baby clubs. Once she had signed up Nicola was spammed constantly and she eventually abandoned her email address which she had used for over 10 years, needless to say this caused her quite a bit of bother. So I set about building a new platform and testing it with my friend and colleague Raphael.
I knew I had a good idea and I worked on it in my spare time, then Raphael and I started to bring in motivated people who ‘got’ what is was we were doing and who could help us develop the business. We used corporate social networking to find good people and that’s when things really started to take off!
What’s your favourite thing about running your own business
Being my own boss and working from home, I get to see my family every day and sit with them for a meal most nights – I can even do the school run! Also, when something is yours, you tend to be a lot more invested in it, I care a lot about my work and it is very satisfying watching the business thrive.
What is your least favourite thing about running your own business
I’m quite used to running businesses as I have been working for myself for quite a few years, but the paperwork, accountancy, legal stuff and chasing invoices can weigh in on the positives (however the positives of being your own boss are pretty good so I don’t want to complain too much!)
What has worked well about your business?
Bringing smart experienced people who get things done on board.
What’s been your biggest business mistake? How did you deal with it?
Being a software chap we have tendency to develop software without finding if there is a market for it, I’ve done this before. With Your Baby Club we grew the technology as the business grew and didn’t try to second guess where we would be.
How do you fit in work with the family? Is your partner supportive of your business?
My partner is massively supportive of me and my goals, we are very much a team – I couldn’t do what I’m doing now without her. As I work from home we see a lot of each other and although I’m sure I get under her feet we find ways of making it work well. For me my family comes first, and so I choose to make sure work fits around my family, I am lucky as working for myself give me this flexibility and freedom.
Are you working towards a financial goal for your business?
We don’t have a solid number in mind but we are aiming for it to be significant, the market leaders have had an easy ride for a long time and do things we don’t agree with, such as selling users data. We aim to be successful but maintain a correct moral position.
Would you ever give up your business to do something else?
It’s hard to say, I actively enjoy working however more time with my family is always welcome and a few more holidays would go down a treat.
Do you have an exit strategy?
We have no defined strategy and aren’t actively looking to sell. We aim to grow the business significantly through years to come.
Have you had your ‘I’ve made it’ moment? Tell us about it. If not when do you think it will come
Your Baby Club is doing well however I’m not sure we have had the ‘moment’ yet, there have been milestones along the way but we are still striving for more. Personally I have had lots of personal and professional moments I’m proud of though nothing tops your kids achieving things. Seeing them win stickers at pre-school, awards at school and certificates for sporting activities – That is 100% ace.
Where do you hope to be in five years’ time?
Honestly, living in the same place, with slightly bigger children all having fun doing what we are doing. Your Baby Club will have grown to have out-paced our domestic competition and our brands will be becoming well known globally.