Starting a baby doll company is something that many entrepreneurs want to do.
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We talked with Dan Lauer to find out how he's been so successful with his baby doll company.
Tell me about your current business. What are you doing exactly?
My company is Lauer Toys, and we are based in Saint Louis, Missouri.
I am the creator and licensor of Waterbabies, the second longest, second best selling baby doll with over 17 million sold in over 17 years.
What I am doing is evangelizing, developing and assisting with a global brand relaunch.
That's an incredible number. When did you start the business?
I started in 1989. Before getting into the toy industry, I was Vice President of Royal Banks of Missouri.
Where did you get the startup money for a toy company?
Angel investors… I could ask for $ based on a prototype of balloons and condoms tied together. Raised $367,000.
Who are your main competitors? How do you compete against them?
The main competitors are Cabbage Patch Kids, Baby Alive, My Little Mommy and Zapf.
We do the traditional methods as well as gorilla, grass roots. We are the only doll, that when you fill the doll with warm water, it feels like a real baby.
How has your experience in running the business been different from what you expected?
Things take twice as long and cost twice as much. It's a lot better than what I expected.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
Of course, but that's looking back… and what value is that?
What have you done that has been very effective in helping to grow the business?
Make it personal.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
Commit a specific and agreed upon amount of time and money. Take six months to research… escalate only when there is good reason to.
Thanks for that advice, and thanks for sharing your story with us, Dan.