Cecilia Thorfinn is 37, a Swedish mum of a lovely little girl, turning 5 this year. She lives in the Netherlands and is married to a Dutch politician. She is also the inventor and main force behind the MummyMug - a smart new product enabling mums to have a hot drink safely around their babies.
We asked Cecilia to share with us her experience of turning her idea into a promising business. Here is what she told us.
How did you come up with the idea? I came up with the idea standing one morning in my kitchen a few years ago. I was holding Eleonore, then just a newborn baby, on one arm, and was longing for a cup of coffee. But the words of my brother, who is a plastic surgeon and operates on burn victims, was ringing in my ears - you must let your cup stand and cool off for a whole 15 minutes before it is safe - water warmer than 60 degrees will cause a 3rd degree burn within 3 seconds on your baby.
And then the thought suddenly crossed my mind: I need a MummyMug. Something that will allow me to still enjoy my drink without risking causing an accident. It would have to be something stylish and something that closed up after every sip, so I would not have to worry about closing a lid manually. The idea for the MummyMug had entered my heart - and was from that moment on not going to go away! I quickly discovered that there was no such product in the market, and started developing the functional design, the branding and the marketing strategy.
What are the key benefits of the MummyMug? I am proud to bring something innovative to market, which will make the life of children a bit safer, and the life of mothers and fathers a little bit more relaxed. Functionality of course comes first, as with all safety products. But we have also worked very hard to make the MummyMug something stylish and unique, adding some well-deserved wellness to the everyday life of parents.
What were the challenges of turning your idea into a business? Product development is a long and sometimes difficult and expensive road to walk, the MummyMug has turned into a fully fledged and full time enterpreneurial adventure. As such, it has taken much more time than I anticipated. I really got going in 2009, and the financial crisis certainly was a challenge for a startup company like mine. I am very proud to have managed to raise the necessary funds during this difficult period, and take that as an extra vote of confidence in me and the MummyMug.
Another challenge, but truly a positive one, is the variety in the tasks one has to fulfil as an entrepreneur. The process from idea to market is presenting me with a new challenge every day, ranging from bookkeeping to selecting plastics to planning trade fair participation, seeking subsidies and planning a social media marketing strategy. I used to be a diplomat working for the European Commission, so my training and background has not helped me much in solving the tasks coming my way. But the variety in the entrepreneurial challenge is indeed what makes it so interesting!
What helped you most to overcome them? Giving myself the permission to simply dare to do it! To try, to succeed but also to dare to make mistakes. I have certainly also had the privilege of teaming up with enthusiastic and experienced experts along the way, and without their support and insights, I would not have come this far.
What are your business objectives?The objective of my business is to bring the MummyMug to all Mums and Dads out there, who enjoy a cup of tea or coffee but who realize that they should not expose their children to the risk of scalding burns. The MummyMug is a hot drink safety solution, a unique and stylish coffee/tea mug with a smart, lip-operable lid that allows 360 degree drinking and closes up after every sip. Used correctly, the MummyMug will minimize the risk of spills and will allow parents a safe coffee break around their kids. We are in the final stages of finalizing the product and preparing for manufacturing, which will take place in Sweden. We have met with a lot of positive response from the market, including getting a prestigeous nomination as finalist in the Innovation Award competition at the Kind&Jugend annual international trade fair for the baby industry in Cologne, Germany.
What differentiates you from your competitors? We have a unique product that addresses an everyday problem that most parents encounter.
If you could give one piece of advice to other entrepreneurs, what would it be? See yourself as the main investor in the company you want to start, and set yourself a clear limit from the beginning as to how much risk you are willing to take in terms of spending time and money on your venture. It is also indispensable to seek advice as early as possible in the process from business coaches and others who have experience of a similar product or process, that can map out what a realistic time frame and budget is for you to reach your goal.
If you have any questions or comments, you can post them in the comment box here. You can also connect with Cecilia directly on: