News & Insights

Jessica Rolph and Roderick Morris (Lovevery) – Building Toys For Different Stages of a Child’s Development, Advice When Co-Founding A Company, and Their Approach to Fundraising


Hello and welcome to The Consumer VC. I am your host Mike Gelb and on this show we talk about the world of venture capital and consumer facing startups.

Thank you very much Natalie Dillon for the intro to today’s guests, Jessica Rolph and Rod Morris, the co-founders of Lovevery, Staged-based play essentials designed by experts, built for babies and toddlers up to age 3. Previously, Jessica co-founded and served as COO of Happy Family, an extremely successful organic baby food company. Rod previously was the Senior Vice President at Opower. Going into this episode, I didn’t know much about toys and learning behavior for babies, so I learned a ton and Jessica and Rod make it so easy to digest how they are thinking differently about child development with Lovevery. Without further ado, here they are.

You can follow Jessica @rolphjessica and Rod @roderickmorris. You can also follow your host, Mike, on Twitter @mikegelb. You can also follow for episode announcements @consumervc.

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One book that inspired Jessica professionally is High Performance Habits by Brenden Burchard.

One book that inspired Rod professionally is Influence: Science and Practiceby Robert Cialdini and one book that inspired him personally is Plato’s Allegory of the Cave.

Here are some of the questions that I ask –

  1. Jessica – how did you come up with the concept of Lovevery?
    1. What was the insight that you learned that inspired you to start Lovevery?
    2. When did you know that you wanted Roderick as a co-founder and how did that come about?
  2. Talk to me a little bit of the dynamic between you two. What’s the decision making and the delegation process when it comes to business activities? I understand that Jessica is the CEO and Roderick is the President, but what does that actually mean?
  3. Let’s talk about the early days.
    1. How did you think about design, quality and this translating into your first product, the $140 baby gym?
    2. How did you approach the supply chain?
    3. Once you built your first product, what was the go-to market strategy?
    4. How did you know if the brand building was working if the primary objective is not to sell the baby gym
    5. How did you think about growth?
      1. Organic vs. Paid
    6. What were some of the ways you were able to establish a community around – both your brand and products?
  4. The fundraise
    1. Why did you want to raise money?
    2. What was your fundraising strategy?
      1. Was it tough to raise with your company located in Idaho?
    3. What was the biggest hurdle when fundraising?
    4. Any advice for founders that are located in secondary and tertiary markets that are looking to raise money from institutional investors? – have to show up and get smarter through the process
    5. Any Advice for founders that don’t have a network that are looking to raise?
    6. What’s one thing that you would change when it came to fundraising?
  5. Product and pricing strategy. You have a subscription business for the play kits and then you have individual products like the play gym.
    1. When you think about building a new product, how do you think about whether it should be part of a subscription vs. separate?
    2. How do you think about market expansion? Are you going to stay in the 0-3 age or is the plan to eventually introduce products later on in a child’s development as well?
  6. How has COVID changed your operating plans and did you have to pivot any part of your business?
  7. I’ve heard investors say that they wouldn’t invest in companies that are located in secondary/tertiary markets because of their worry about talent recruitment as the company scales? How do you think about talent recruitment as you’re based in Idaho?
  8. What’s one piece of advice that you might have for folks that are fundraising?

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