I hope you had a wonderful festive season and are ready to roar into 2018!
Given the time of year, it seems only right to give you a roundup of the best bits of 2017 which proved to be an exhilarating ride! Let me expand….
In the first quarter of 2017, less than a year since we first began delivering mifold boosters, we reached over 200,000 mifold boosters sold. We had 50 different permutations of packaging specifically designed for our many growing markets around the world.
Matt joined us as VP Sales for North America bringing the number in the team to 9.
We received regulatory approval in China, South Korea and Chile. Chinese approval was a big deal for us and we were the first booster seat manufacturer ever to receive regulatory approval in Chile.
mifold was officially launched in Canadian Tire and in Buy Buy Baby stores – the first time we were in a US brick and mortar store.
Mark closed a deal with Grab, the ride sharing company in Singapore and this re-enforced the essence of mifold because we materially increased the number of kids traveling safely in one of the largest cities in the world.
Between January and March, Ken and Jon traveled to Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong, Ken went to Germany and Switzerland, Jon went to Singapore, Davide went to Phoenix, Matt came to visit us at here at HQ, Ken went to Spain and Poland and Jon went to Russia. An abundance of airmiles were accumulated!
Ken signed distribution agreements in Poland and Italy and mifold went on sale in John Lewis, the prestigious department store in the UK. We installed a huge new wall map in the office charting our progress towards world domination!
Chile, Russia, Japan Israel and Thailand received their mifold stock.
We won 2 design awards – the A Design Award and The European Product Design Award.
Most importantly we got a new dishwasher in the office. And it was only March!
By the end of Quarter 2, we had 32 distributors covering 49 markets around the world. Jon, Matt, Robert, Davide, Mark and I attended the JPMA show in California where we were the big winners receiving the Best in Show Innovation Award AND the Parents’ Pick Award.
mifold joined forces with Uber at the JPMA show for the kids’ day out event with mums and kids arriving at the show in a fleet of Uber cabs on mifold boosters.
Davide was promoted to Senior Brand Manager. Congratulations!
mifold began to get exposure in languages other than English with the production of new labels, packaging and brochures for non-English speaking markets.
Gaynor joined as Supply Chain and Logistics Coordinator - so now we were a team of 10.
Ken travelled to Germany, China, Thailand and the Philippines and signed agreements in South Africa, Slovenia, Croatia, the Netherlands, Uruguay and the Philippines. Jon went to the UK, Wisconsin, Michigan, Tennessee and San Francisco, Russia and Singapore. Russia launched mifold in unbelievable style.
Matt and Mark presented mifold to the Lifesavers Conference on Highway Safety Priorities in North Carolina and at this time mifold also became available in Japanese retail stores.
Rachel was promoted to Brand Manager – Congratulations!
We were asked to send a thousand mifold seats to Car Passenger Safety Instructors in the US for use in their training of new technicians who in turn advise caregivers and parents on the most suitable car seat to choose for their children.
We had our first ever TV ad thanks To EI Brands and Canadian Tire and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the US (NHTSA) awarded us an impressive 4 stars overall in their car seat ratings and 5 stars in the all-important category of “securing a child on a seat”.
Crucially it was in this quarter that the transition began from us being a one product company into a multi-product company with the launch of the ultra-compact car seat category. Furthermore, with new regulatory approval in Taiwan, we could proudly say that mifold is regulated in every country in the world that allows the sale of backless boosters. In April, we celebrated the anniversary of shipping the very first mifold as well as Jon’s special birthday!
By the beginning of Quarter 3, mifold was available to buy in more than 50 countries around the world! Ken went to China, Denmark and Russia and signed agreements in France, Scandinavia, Costa Rica and Uruguay.
Jon went to Germany and Switzerland and mifold was tested and subsequently launched in Nordstrom stores in the US.
By this point mifold was being successfully sold in the US online and in store at Amazon, Target, Toys R Us, Bed Bath and Beyond, Buy Buy Baby, Right Start and Giggle.
Rachel and Matt qualified as Car Passenger Safety Technicians.
We won another award, The Family Choice Award and mifold was made available on various international airlines’ duty-free trolleys and in inflight magazines including Lufthansa and Easy Jet and what is more we featured on the side of the famous London Black Cabs.
Matt presented mifold at the Kidz in Motion Conference in Colorado and Bradley County Sheriff’s Department in the US selected mifold as its car seat of choice in all of its patrol vehicles.
Much of the third quarter was taken up with preparations and deadlines for the Kind and Jugend show in Cologne.
The whole team flew to Germany to participate - the first time we had ever all been together and where Rayna showed us her considerable minibus driving skills! She didn’t even scrape the roof in the low-rise car park….
Considerable time and effort was spent designing, redesigning and tweaking sell sheets for mifold, the mifold designer bag, hifold, mifold One and mifold Sport; the 20 page mifold brochures had an interesting journey to Germany where they stayed for quite some time on a baggage carousel and then made it back to the office again without ever coming out of their suitcase.
It was at Kind and Jugend that we officially launched hifold, mifold One and mifold Sport – the culmination of extensive research and design work.
We had a gala award ceremony for our wonderful distributors and announced our Distributor of the Year. Well done to Maqui Trading from Chile! It was also at this show that Miss mifold was born.
By the end of Quarter 4, in excess of 425,000 mifold boosters had been sold in over 140 countries. We now have 37 distributors in 50 different markets with the addition of Greece, Vietnam and the Philippines into the fold. During this period, Jon went to Italy, Spain and NY for a day. Matt attended the Centre for Child Injury Prevention Studies’ conference in Ohio and the ABC show in Las Vegas where he opened a variety of new specialty accounts.
Target agreed to put mifold into their retail stores and to have dedicated video monitors in store showing the mifold story which makes us the first car seat company ever to have a monitor in store. Additionally, Buy Buy Baby stores put mifold in both their booster seat aisle and at the front of their stores.
In November, Jacqui started as Operations Manager bringing the number in the team to 11!
During this final quarter we won The Best Award in Korea for Car Seat Safety and the Kid Design Award in Japan bringing our total number of design, innovation and consumer awards to 12.
Our Chinese distributor excitingly held the 11/11 event with the promotion of the Limited Edition Dragon Red mifold boosters.
We have had Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions with the participation of Amazon, Buy Buy Baby, Zulily and Nordstrom.
We now have 60 different SKUs and mifold is being sold in 2,300 retail stores within the first full year of business.
This year we have received over 4,000 customer enquiries, had 42,447 likes on Facebook, had 12M Facebook impressions and in the US we have featured 65 times across a variety of media resulting in 90M unique visitors. Sales this year were double what they were last year and we were able to calculate that wonderful statistic that one mifold is sold every 80 seconds… What a year - I am out of breath just writing about it!
We have another unbelievable year ahead of us…
Sales are forecast to at least double this year’s figures. Our attendance is already booked at the JPMA, Lifesavers and Kind and Jugend conferences. We are thrilled at the prospect of growth in our key accounts as well as the imminent launch of hifold, mifold One and mifold Sport.
It is definitely going to be an interesting year ahead and I think we are all going to be rather busy!
Best wishes to you all!