Meet the Founder
How did the UPPAbaby story begin?
I had spent 20 years at large brands, including Reebok, Ford, The First Years, and Safety First. When Lauren (my wife and UPPAbaby co-founder) and I became parents, we were dissatisfied with the stroller options available in the market. There were a lot of mass-produced strollers that “got the job done” but didn’t deliver the “wow” experience for mom, dad, and baby. They lacked some basic features like storage, comfortable push bars, and wheels that actually roll properly. There were also products positioned as very “high-end” but didn’t really address the functionality voids – they were just expensive. We saw an opportunity in the market to create a better stroller line ourselves and support parents with the best customer experience in the category. Our mission was and still is to make high-quality strollers, car seats, and related baby products that deliver comfort and safety for newborns and toddlers, with convenience and style for moms and dads.
What were the early growth days like?
We spent a many long nights perfecting our first stroller, the Vista, which is still our best seller today. We place a lot of importance on ease-of-use features, like one-handed recline and an adjustable height push bar that suits both someone who’s over 6 feet (like me) and someone who’s 5’ 3” (like Lauren). We also wanted the design to be sleek and appealing to both moms and dads. When the Vista was ready to go to market, we knew we would need to educate consumers and allow them to experience the UPPAbaby difference. So, we partnered with specialty retailers to showcase our products. We’ve continued to support this channel and helped drive foot traffic via “tune up, gear up” and other programs.
Why did you partner with Seidler?
In 2015, after ten years of bootstrapping the business, Lauren and I wanted a partner to help support the next decade of UPPAbaby’s growth. We had heard about Seidler through some founders they had partered with, as well as other friends in the baby category, so we decided to take a meeting. SEP’s culture aligned with ours, and we were impressed with their experience in the baby/parent segment and overall branded consumer category. But what was most important to us when we decided to take Seidler on as a partner was retaining control of the business, keeping our balance sheet debt-free, and having a long-term time horizon. Seidler understood and supported our long-term approach to building the brand, with product excellence as a core value. Creating the best products in the category requires a significant investment in R&D and, in many cases, several years of product development refinement before a product is ready for prime-time launch. The Seidler team supported this long-game approach, allowing me to “drive the bus” and execute on the overall growth vision.
What has the partnership accomplished?
Over the years, Seidler has helped refine and execute our international expansion strategy, with UPPAbaby now selling into over 50 countries. Also, as business needs changed with our growth, the Seidler team helped us build the leadership bench around me, by helping both develop internal talent and find stars to help take UPPAbaby to the next level. It was great to have an investor that would provide support where we needed it — any time, 24/7. Throughout our seven-year partnership, Seidler has always provided genuine and unwavering support of me as the founder, of the team I’ve chosen, and of my vision for the business.