Prize winner Ball launches parenting magazine
Having a full-time job in the civil service, a toddler and a baby on the way didn’t dampen Katrina Ball’s entrepreneurial spirit.
The young mother decided to launch a small business in the little spare time she had.
Ms Ball’s soon-to-be-launched Bermuda Parent Magazine won the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation’s Rocket Pitch contest for entrepreneurs this month.
She came up with the idea for the magazine, she said, through personal experience, which also inspired Rocket Pitch runner-up Alex Jones to start his business.
Mr Jones’ Mantastic Shopping is an online gift suggestion engine to help men buy women the perfect gift (though some may think women need more help when it comes to gift-buying!).
He launched his company while at the same time training heavily for the 2012 Olympic windsurfing qualifier.
“The basic concept came about when I panicked before my then girlfriend’s birthday and ended up buying her a gift that was less than ideal and she suggested creating a website that would suggest good gifts,” he said. “Mantastic asks you a series of questions about the woman you have in mind (girlfriend/wife, mother, sister, friend, co-worker, etc) and then suggests a gift that you can buy instantly.”
After her son was born two-and-a-half years ago, Ms Ball noticed a need in Bermuda for a comprehensive, up-to-date products, services and activities resource for parents.
“Trying to find information on products and services involving babies children was difficult,” she said. “There was no one specific place to find it all. So the idea began from there.”
Ms Ball said her original idea was a magazine aimed at parents of newborns and young children, but through her market research she found that parents of children all they way up to age 16 and higher were looking for local advice and information as well.
She has launched her website, www.bermudaparentmagazine.com and the first issue of the magazine is due to be launched in spring.
It will a free, quarterly magazine, she said, available at schools, stores and doctors’ offices Island-wide.
Ms Ball invested some of her own money in the venture and works nights and evenings on putting the magazine together and seeking advertisers and contributors.
“Advertisers have been very receptive,” she said. “They recognise the magazine is needed.”
Winning the Rocket Pitch contest landed her a $2,000 venture funding prize, which she said will be a big help in her start-up costs.
The BEDC has also helped by offering invaluable advice on putting the business together: “The best advice they gave me was know your costs involved,” she said.
Ms Ball has worked for Government for five years after giving up a forensic science career due to the shift work involved becoming challenging after her son was born.
Alex Jones took second with MantasticShopping, and third went to podiatrists Natalie Bennett and Stuart McIntosh for Island Sole shoes.
Mr. Jones, who has a financial background, has partially launched his website, www.mantasticshopping.com, where people can go to join a mailing list for sneak previews as well as special offers.
The site is still in internal beta testing, the software is mostly written but not quite ready for prime time, he said.
“Our gift suggestions are a product of surveys and dialling down what women have really enjoyed getting in the past,” he explained. “The intention is to use user feedback over time to continually tweak and update the recommendations to stay with the latest trends. So far all of the work has been done by myself and my team from Startup Weekend 2011 in New York City where Mantastic was presented. I am looking for a web developer with coding experience to help with the back-end. Interested programmers should contact me (at ajjones[AT]northrock.bm).”
He said the website is designed to be easy to run and take up little time.
Ms Ball and Mr Jones were among 17 competitors who presented their ideas, ranging from a ‘cupcakery’, a lunch delivery service, a traditional Bermudian cuisine caterer, a blender of specialised teas, a producer of elegant three dimensional wedding invitations, a mobile message services, a unique retail shop-on-wheels, and an application for directing just-in-time ads to mobile devices.