4moms (http://www.4moms.com) is a robotics company that makes high-tech baby gear. The company has redefined the $8.9 billion juvenile products industry through its use of advanced robotics technology. The result is dramatically better baby gear, including the 4moms origami®, the world’s only power-folding stroller; the 4moms mamaRoo® infant seat that replicates the bouncing and swaying motions parents make when soothing their babies; and the 4moms breeze® playard that opens or closes in one simple step.
We recently spoke with Teresa Hammond, Vice President of Marketing at 4moms, located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Teresa leads 4moms global marketing efforts, using research-based consumer insights to provide strategic direction for building the brand. She oversees the company’s Brand Marketing, Social & Digital Media, Public Relations, eCommerce, Product Management and Customer Care teams.
Tell us a little about the background of 4moms. How did the company get its start?
In 2005, friends Henry Thorne, a world-leading roboticist, and Rob Daley, a successful businessman, met over lunch to discuss their individual plans for future business ventures. They both knew there were only two ways to make it as an entrepreneur: create a new market or change an existing one. After researching industries, specifically elder care and juvenile products, Rob and Henry determined the $8.9 billion juvenile product industry presented the most appealing opportunity. Enter 4moms. Officially established in 2005, 4moms’ namesake comes from its first focus group of mothers. The group explored juvenile product pain points and provided valuable insight that led to the creation of our first product, the 4moms infant tub. Today, 4moms is a rapidly growing company that is changing the way parents think about baby gear.
What’s ultimately been 4moms’ main driver for success?
In one word – innovation. Our philosophy on the future of technology is not in the stories of science fiction, but in products with everyday uses that are accessible and solve real world problems for consumers. 4moms has consistently redefined the baby gear industry. For example, the popular mamaRoo infant seat was developed to address parents’ need for a place to put their baby to be soothed and entertained. We recognized that babies are happiest in the arms of their parents, so we created a seat that bounces and sways like parents do when comforting their babies.
I see that 4moms’ CEO Rob Daley was recently quoted as saying “Good enough isn’t; awesome is.” Can you talk a little bit about how that attitude is part of the culture at 4moms?
Rob was actually misquoted in that story. The correct sentiment is “Good enough isn’t; awesome enough is.” It’s one of the eight “Words We Live By” here at 4moms. These words define our culture:
1) Everything matters.
2) Embrace change at all times.
4) Minimize scope. Get it done. Then improve.
6) Good enough isn’t. Awesome enough is.
7) Have fun.
8) Be humble. Work hard. Respect others.
We always want to deliver dramatically better products to our consumers, and #6 is a principle that we all hold to a very high standard. For example, our 4moms self-installing car seat could have gone to market months ago. People are screaming for it, but our team wanted to make it even more awesome. We’re currently finalizing the installation experience, and we think that parents are going to be blown away. It truly is a revolutionary product.
4moms seems to maintain an active social media presence, and especially a lot of interaction with its customers. Can you talk about using social media as a marketing channel, especially from the lens of a middle market company?
Yes, we are thankful to have such an active and passionate group of fans on social media. We’ve found that when you’re pregnant, especially the first time, you look to your friends and family first for recommendations on things like baby gear. Because our products are so awesome, people love to talk about them – especially on social media. We’ve been able to harness this chatter and repurpose it for our marketing purposes. Every testimonial, every experience that we promote on social is authentic, which allows us to make a trusted connection with potential consumers. By giving our loyalists a platform, we’re able to highlight their experience with the products and create generation after generation of 4moms fans.
The 4moms Cares program supports hospitals and other nonprofits. What does giving back to the community mean at 4moms? How do your products make an impact for the smallest and most fragile infants?
It’s important to give back to those in need. We’ve found that our mamaRoo infant seat is an important piece of equipment in NICUs and PICUs. Currently over 300 NICUs throughout the country use the mamaRoo as part of their babies’ care. The natural bouncing and swaying motions help promote longer periods of comfort and calm to facilitate testing and allow babies to rest, which is important when they have lots of growing and healing to do. The seat is also helpful when parents need a little break and nurses are being pulled in many directions.
What does 4moms do to foster growth for your current employees and how do you approach recruiting new talent?
We are an extremely entrepreneurial company and encourage our employees to get involved in projects that they are interested in – to not only learn, but to add a different and unique perspective to a project. We support both internal and external trainings, and have weekly sessions with our direct reports to ensure that they are tracking against their career goals.
In terms of recruitment, we’ve been really lucky to find the best and brightest. It’s not only important that a candidate checks all of the boxes as it relates to the job description; he/she also has to pass our culture interview. We make sure that everyone we hire believes in our 4moms philosophy and is a good fit for the organization. It’s also great that we have top institutions like Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh here in Pittsburgh, where we’ve recruited a number of employees.
What are some advantages of working for a middle market company?
One of the biggest advantages is the ability to collaborate. Whereas in larger companies, functions tend to be more siloed, at 4moms our teams work very closely together. Each product team includes a representative from supply chain, engineering, industrial design, and a product manager, known within 4moms as the “band of siblings.” These teams sit together within our flexible workspace, allowing ideas to bounce back and forth.
What’s next for 4moms? What are you most excited about?
More innovation and product launches. Our new 4moms high chair hits the market next week. It uses the magic of magnets to make mealtime easier for parents. And, we’re launching the world’s first self-installing car seat later this summer. Four out of five car seats are installed incorrectly, and there’s no easy way to know if you’ve installed it correctly. We’ve solved this problem with a robotic seat that installs itself, giving parents peace of mind that every time they put their baby in our car seat that it’s installed correctly. It’s an incredible product and one the entire team is really proud of. We can’t wait to see it used in market to help solve this critical problem.