Alexander Jovanovic is the founder and CEO at RocketBaby, the leading Italian ecommerce for moms and super babies (rocketbaby.it).
Before RocketBaby, Alexander worked as business developer and investment manager in the renewable energy industry at Sineco Energy and Sineco Holding, an Italian group active in the environment and renewable-energy sectors, with its own production units and R&D centres.
Alexander graduated in Business Administration and Management Cattolica University in Milan.
Q: You were having a promising career in the renewable energy industry, and then, in 2015, you decided to start a your own business in a completely different industry. What led you to this decision and how did the idea of RocketBaby come about?
Alexander: Actually, the change was not so radical. I have always been fascinated by the digital world, so, when I was working in the renewable energy industry, I founded a digital company.
The first project that the company engaged in was a marketplace of local services, for the city of Milan. With this project, I set up a team of 3 people working on IT and digital marketing.
Later on, during a trip to Los Angeles, my girlfriend fell in love with an elastic bracelet that she had never seen in Italy before. On our return to Italy, I decided to take a test with my digital company, and we created a single-product ecommerce for elastic hair band ties. We found a production factory in France and we started with this new project. Each package contained a set of 6 elastic hair band ties, along with a motivational quote. We sold 2.000 packages in 3 months.
At that time, I didn’t know that I would started RocketBaby, but let’s say that I was looking for the right business model for my digital company, and I just approached what we are doing now.
Q: RocketBaby sells third-party products, but also produces its own branded products. Why a mother should buy on RocketBaby for her kids? What distinctive features do you have?
Alexander: One of the latest customer reviews that I read says: “The product I bought is very soft, my baby adores it. Thanks RocketBaby, you are always one step ahead”.
I have really appreciated it, it’s what we want to be with our products, one step ahead of others.
When we launched RocketBaby, our mission was to bring new, innovative and premium products, discovered around the world, to the Italian market. For our customers, the young digital mothers, we were the ecommerce of innovative products, with new brands and articles available every day.
Then, we started creating our own branded products by using our know-how. We launched a RocketBaby line and it was a success.
Today, we are investing a lot into the development and improvement of RocketBaby products.
But we still look for the best brands around the world, in order to bring continuous innovation to our sector.
The shopping that a young digital mom can experience on RocketBaby is discovery, quality, design and innovation. That’s why our moms follow our newsletters and our new product launches.
Q: What results have you achieved till now? How are you dealing with the scale-up phase?
Alexander: We have achieved significant results so far, though I believe that we are still at the beginning of our journey, we have room for improvement for our customers.
Even the ecommerce in our sector is at the beginning of its development: online sales are worth only 5% of the total market, and it’s nothing.
The big generalist players have created the main infrastructure in our sector, now it’s up to new business models to ride the wave of second-generation ecommerce.
Today RocketBaby’s catalogue includes over 30,000 products, we have over 280,000 followers on our social media channels, more than 400,000 website visitors per month, and we expand at a 100% year-over-year growth rate.
Beyond this, what pleases me most is to see our products on the streets, to see moms and babies using RocketBaby products, knowing exactly how the idea of a single product started, the discussions with the designers and the visits to the production factory, all the hard work behind it… in the hands of a mom who bought it for herself and her son.
We have great challenges ahead and still much to achieve.
Q: What do you think of the Italian start-ups and what difficulties did you have – if any – when you started your business?
Alexander: When creating a company, difficulties are at all stages, what matters is the ability to overcome them, and to move to the next stage.
One of the first difficulties that we had was putting together the first set of products to sell. Several suppliers told us: “go online, we see the website, and then we decide whether to sell you our products”. But if you don’t have any products, you can’t go online, and if you don’t go online, suppliers won’t sell you their products. At the end, we were able to find a solution.
I believe that the word “start-up” is sometimes overworked in Italy. I think we should distinguish companies with a proper vision that are in their start-up phase, from unstructured ideas that are called start-ups because “it’s trendy”. In Italy, you can find both types.
If we look at the first type, I believe that there are some beautiful companies that have the potential to emerge at international level.
Q: What would you suggest to a foreign venture capital investor who would like to invest in Italian start-ups?
Alexander: I recommend to invest in ventures with international scope, to partner with other investors, and to look at Italy knowing that the Italian market works with the same logics of – or even better than – other countries.
It is true that the Italian venture capital industry is behind compared to other countries, but the Italian market is not, customers aren’t different or behind other countries.
I believe that Italy is a great opportunity for international VCs. They can find little competition with local VCs, an active market and resilient start-ups. Come and invest in Italy!
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