Not another COVID update?

Well HELLO WORLD! It’s me, Shannon... Finally coming out of isolation to share with you what I’ve been up to of late. “Not another COVID update” I hear you sigh! Nope, I can assure you I’ve been very busy with all the “fun” that has come from the COVID lock down.

Working from home with my daughter

So I’ve been pushing forward with the exciting journey of developing the best glass baby bottles the world has ever seen! Ok, so that will be a matter of opinion. and I AM a little biased perhaps, but I’m super excited to be moving into the next stages of development for Pronto Bottle.

So this started out as me taking away one of your many parenting headaches. No it wasn’t helping you with ‘threenager’ tantrums or eliminating your never-ending pile of laundry. But it was solving the endlessly tiring cycle of bottle washing and prepping. However when COVID hit, there was an even greater cause to solve. What I hear you ask? Well, that was giving better peace of mind on protecting your bottle fed baby from germs and bacteria.

Baby bottles sitting on benchtop collecting germs

From one parent to another, I know what it’s like. I’ve wasted countless hours on washing and sterilising bottles. To not even realise that having that bottle sitting around for hours on my bench top or nappy bag was actually risking exposing my baby to germs and bacteria. COVID has made us all extra sensitive to our hygiene. So ensuring we keep ourselves and our babies and children safer is higher on the list of priorities now.

So I’m extremely motivated to keep making progress so I can help you protect your precious bundle from those risks. Plus I get to make your life that little bit easier too. Today I’m sharing a bit about what has been happening behind the scenes and how I’m planning for the rest of the year to unfold post our COVID lockdown!

Your imagined version of COVID biz-parenting

As any entrepreneur knows, building a business or developing a product is full of ups and downs (kinda like parenting). You take a couple of steps forward and then it’s a step back… actually, we’ve all taken quite a few extra steps back given the current global COVID problem.

You have this incredible, well-thought-out, perfectly designed plan of how everything is going to fall into place. Teeth brushed, story read, your little one tucked up in bed. Better yet you’ll be snuggling up with your partner with a drink of your choice by 7:30pm (ha!)

What you imagine COVID biz-parenting to be like

You’ll be able to reflect on all the great progress you’ve made today, together. Your energy levels are high. So of course you finish the day with mind-blowing intercourse and then a few episodes of your favourite Netflix show. And all before 11pm so you can get all the rest and recovery you need to burst into the next day!

What it’s really like

The reality is quite different. BOOM! - COVID hits us all!

The reality of COVID biz-parenting

Business (and parenting!) becomes a topsy-turvy chaotic mess with many layers of complexity and frustrations to boot. You totally over-estimate the amount of work you can get done in a day. With parenting added into the mix of your work day you feel like you don’t even have time to scratch your nose. Let alone rummage around in the sheets with your significant other.

But when you look back over the course of the last 3 months, it’s easier to take stock of the fact that things HAVE been happening. Business is progressing. And your little one has somehow managed to survive all the COVID shirt-storm parenting that has occurred along the way.

Like you, I’ve certainly experienced my fair share of parenting guilt. I’ve been working through weekends trying to bring my vision for Pronto Bottle to life. There have been SO MANY times when I haven’t been fully present for my daughter. I’ve been working with the endless juggle of quality time with her, and my partner, and trying to get Pronto off the ground.

Me working on prototypes while daughter is painting

The guilty feeling sucks. But I’ve talked to enough other parents in the last 3 months to know that everyone pretty much feels guilty about something or another right now. I honestly think we need to quit being so tough on ourselves during this COVID-inspired mess. The reality is, right now my daughter is healthy, loved and cared for. I hope that in future, what I’m doing as a purpose-driven mum-preneur will help inspire her to go out into the world and know that she can achieve anything she wants to.

So I think we’re going to be fine. Yes, YOU and ME. There is a way (maybe even many ways) to make this new world work. Even if the process feels messy as we find our feet.

So what’s been happening during COVID longdown?

Exciting things have been happening for Pronto Bottle. In amongst the crazy realities of product development, COVID and parenting, I’ve had back to back accelerators and product testing with parents... okay so maybe I didn’t do ALL of that during lockdown... I am rewinding a little further back than that.

I was thrilled to be accepted into MedTech Actuator, Australia's most prestigious Med. Tech. accelerator program late last year. After spending 6 months covering everything from regulatory pathways, manufacturing and IP, the future see’s us continuing with a mentor-supported program for the next 9 months.

MedTech Actuator demo night pitch

With COVID gaining rapid traction in the news, we still managed to end with a Demo Night in February. Here we showcased our polished ideas to a crowd of more than 100 government, industry & investor professionals. It was a ride of ups and downs going through the program, but hugely worthwhile. I gathered not only some amazing knowledge, but also support and connections to boot.

I was then lucky enough to gain a seat in another accelerator program called UprAsia. This one ran for 3 months from February, but the timing couldn’t have been worse. This one focused on the market in Asia, but with lockdown hitting us in March, all of our plans to fly over and explore the region and meet with business & investor people in person went out the window. However program co-ordinators pivoted amazingly fast, like so many businesses have had to, and had us pitching to investors in China virtually... The first of many to be done this way I’m sure.

Our last 2 months in COVID isolation were very focused, and allowed us to strengthen our business position. From bringing on expert industry professionals onto our board, as well as completing more Trademark and branding work to help with strengthening our IP position. We also manage to test out another batch of prototypes with parents. Appropriately socially distanced of course. So if you’re one of the 20 parents we harassed to help us with this – Thank You! Without the support of parents we wouldn’t be able to develop a product that is beneficial for parents globally.

Plans for this year

We’ll be spending the next 3 months fundraising to gain vital funds we need to launch Pronto Bottle. From these funds we’ll be able to complete testing, tooling, manufacturing and distribution of our product. To do this we’ll actually be launching an equity crowdfunding campaign. “Not crowdfunding again” I hear you cry. No it’s not the crowdfunding that requires people to be incentivised to purchase a physcial product. This will actually allow mum and dad investors like you and me to purchase a portion the company. Hence the equity part.

Birchal equity crowdfunding campaign

So investors around Australia, unfortunately international investors won’t be able to take part in this, will have a chance to own a portion of Pronto Bottle for themselves. If you want a chance to be a part of Pronto Bottles history, signup to our newsletter to find out when this launches.

Please be aware that crowd-sourced funding is risky, so do read to ensure you are aware of the risks associated with this type of investment.

I’ve also got a plan to move forward with regular content on my blog. I’ve been MIA (missing in action) for too long and I want this to become a space where we can share the real and raw realities of parenting, as well as entrepreneurship. I want you to feel supported in amongst a community of like-minded parents and to have useful, actionable tips to boot!

With that in mind, please feel free to leave a comment below to let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. What topics do you most want to read about right now?

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