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When Kickstarter Was A No-Starter, This Entrepreneur Created Her Own Crowdfunding


New York entrepreneur Priska Diaz, founder of Bittylab, had a product idea — a baby bottle that allows caregivers to expel air from the bottle before feeding the baby. As a mom, Diaz was familiar with the gas and colic symptoms that babies suffer from when they draw in air during their feedings. Her design eliminated the air vents found in traditional bottles and offered a food delivery system that mimicked breastfeeding.

Diaz showed her idea around, and it was enthusiastically received, giving her hope that a Kickstarter campaign would raise the funds needed for inventory. However, "As innovative as my idea was," says Diaz, "it didn't get funded. I realized that Kickstarter was perhaps not the best route since most of the funded projects are tech-gadget oriented." Rather than give up on the project, she brainstormed other ways of fundraising. Since crowdfunding platforms required her to draw her own crowd, she decided she could try again by drawing that crowd to her own website. As a bonus, there would be no fees. She would be able to keep 100 percent of the funds raised, and pass the savings on to her customers.

"I decided to do a presale directly from my website," says Diaz. She created a blog that told the story of her product development and explained how her air-free system worked. She then promoted her blog across her social media sites. With minimal PR funds, she gained thousands of organic referrals. "Moms were highly interested in the obvious idea, 'no air in the bottle equals no gassy/fussy baby.' The message spread like wildfire."

She set up a pre-ordering system on her site, and at the conclusion of her pre-sale, 10,000 fans had signed up for her newsletter. She had 8,000 unique visitors each month and raised $50,000 to pay for inventory. From there, her business took off. In 2015, she was awarded the Edison Award's top prize in the personal care and wellness category, a prize that recognizes innovation and business success. In February 2016, her line of Bare Air-free baby bottles moved from online-only to the shelves of national retail chain Babies "R" Us, putting her alongside well-established brands in the industry.




This article was written by Gillian Burdett of for CBS Small Business Pulse.


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