For many lockdown-wearied parents, the ‘doo doo doo’ of viral kids YouTube hit Baby Shark may induce a panic attack – or at least the risk of a smashed iPad. However, for startup founder Monica Meldrum, the monotonous melody is music to her ears.
The Melbourne entrepreneur’s kids snack food company, Whole Kids, has just inked a deal with Pinkfong, the South Korean entertainment unicorn which created Baby Shark, YouTube’s most-viewed video.
Whole Kids co-founder Monica Meldrum.Credit:Eamon Gallagher.
“It’s a huge deal,” Ms Meldrum said. “[Pinkfong] is focused on rolling out a new TV show and movie throughout Asia, and we’ll be launching our products to coincide with that.”
It will also coincide with a broader expansion by the company into Asia, which will be fuelled by a $1.2 million crowdfunding raise the company is planning to kick off in a week’s time through local platform Birchal.
It’s the second crowdfunding raise undertaken by Whole Kids, with Ms Meldrum and her co-founder husband James completing their initial $1.2 million raise in September last year, which attracted high-profile backers including Adore Beauty founder Kate Morris and Business Chicks chief executive Emma Isaacs.
“We had this incredible support from women wanting to support more female-owned businesses, which was incredibly empowering,” she said.
The company’s sales have boomed during the pandemic, with first-quarter sales for fiscal 2022 up 66 per cent on the same period last year and its products now stocked in over 3000 stores. The second raise will be at least as much as the first, Ms Meldrum said, though likely higher, as expressions of interest are already three times as high as last year.
Equity crowdfunding is a moderately new funding option for startups in Australia, where companies ask ‘the crowd’ – often customers, clients and mum and dad investors – for funds in exchange for a small shareholding in the business.
In the 2021 financial year, Australian companies rose $46 million via equity crowdfunding, more than double the year prior. However, the nascent funding option has seen its fair share of failures, most recently female ridesharing service Shebah, which raised $3 million in 2019 but entered voluntary administration last week due to the pressures of COVID-19.
Ms Meldrum says despite the potential pitfalls, she is confident of crowdfunding being the right move for Whole Kids, pointing to the company’s 16-year history and market position.
“Our business has been around for some time and the opportunities we’re looking at are real opportunities,” she said. “I think it’s a great thing for us.”
Whole Kids will use the new funding primarily to expand into South-East Asia, with the company already appointing distributors in Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and the UAE. The business, which is a certified B Corp, also plans to become carbon neutral in the next 12 months.
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