Baby steps: Irish co-founded infant formula firm raises $15m

Bobbie’s European-style organic product proving to be huge hit in North America

Bobbie co-founders Laura Modi and Sarah Hardy

Bobbie co-founders Laura Modi and Sarah Hardy

 

An Irish co-founded start-up that has developed a healthier baby formula for the North American market has raised $15 million (€12.4 million) in investment.

Claiming to be the only female-founded and mother-led infant formula company, Bobbie has come up with a European-style recipe it says is modelled on breast milk.

Its infant powder has been developed using milk from pasture-raised cows. It meets Food and Drug Administration nutritional requirements while steering clear of ingredients such as corn syrup, palm oil, or maltodextrin that are often contained in formulas for sale in the United States.

Since launching in January, Bobbie has seen seven times the forecasted growth and surpassed $1 million in sales in the first quarter
Since launching in January, Bobbie has seen seven times the forecasted growth and surpassed $1 million in sales in the first quarter

Bobbie was inspired by Mayo-native Laura Modi’s personal struggle to breastfeed and her difficulties sourcing the type of formulas that mirrored those she knew from home.

“We lead like a mother. Mothers understand the ins and outs of infant formula, from the ingredients to the politics. They have experienced the pain, they have worked through the solutions and they believe, with every disappointed ounce in them, that there’s a conversation to be had on how we feed our babies,” said Ms Modi, Bobbie’s chief executive.

Originally from Co Mayo, Ms Modi co-founded the business with Sarah Hardy with the two meeting while working for Airbnb in San Francisco.

Since launching in January, Bobbie has seen seven times its forecasted growth and surpassed $1 million in sales in the first quarter. The company had a waiting list of 7,000 parents who were eager to get their hands on the powder with initial success largely based on word-of-mouth.

Funding round

The Series A funding round was led by VMG, a San Francisco-based private equity firm that earlier this year closed a new $850 million fund. It has made more than 40 investments to date, predominantly in consumer packaged good (CPG) brands such as Kind, Bare Snacks and Daily Harvest.

Ally Tam, a partner at VMG is to join Bobbie’s 100 per cent female-led board, which is guided by an advisory board known as the Motherboard.

“We watched Bobbie navigate the challenges of bringing a completely new product to market in a highly regulated environment with equal parts grace and tenacity, and then exceptional success,” said Ms Tam.

“We see hundreds of new brands launch every year, so when Bobbie showed us their first month’s launch results – which were exceptional – it was a no-brainer to formalise our relationship with the company by leading their Series A,” she added.