NIMBEL introduces a modern baby carrier to the market that combines more comfort with an urban ‘outdoor’ feel. The startup also plans to sell in the DACH region and Scandinavia and is looking for both large and small investors.
FundsUp had a conversation with the enthusiastic Stefan van Cleef of NIMBEL, who, in addition to his passion for baby carriers, surfing, and the outdoors, also revealed that the neon yellow-green Exoframe of the baby carrier was deliberately chosen as their ‘blue bike tire’.
A Dutch version of this article can be read on the website of our partner: Emerce.
What were you doing before founding NIMBEL?
“Above all, I’m a father of two kids, an outdoorsman, and a surfer. I briefly studied medicine and then pursued Industrial Design at TUDelft with great pleasure. This reflects my interests: technology, nature, and people.”
“Before this, I was the CEO of a company specialising in infotainment technology for yachts and cruise liners for several years, alongside others. Additionally, I developed a number of high-end products on commission.”
But working on commission wasn’t quite what you wanted?
“I really wanted to develop my own product again and be involved in building the company. Then I was approached by my co-founders in this NIMBEL adventure, and I jumped in to develop the product and build the company. The combination of technology, commerce, and solving a real physical problem for users appealed to me.”
How did you come up with the idea for NIMBEL?
“The idea for a baby carrier 2.0 came to me through a well-known startup entrepreneur, Eline van Beest, who made waves with her medtech startup Nightbalance and who, along with investor Anouar Noudari, approached me. According to them, current baby carriers could be improved so that all parents could carry their child more easily without experiencing back or shoulder pain. Eline and I know each other from our time at university in Delft. I had sold my company and was freelancing, and this was an idea I wanted to pursue.”
What sets your approach apart from others?
“We really started with the problem: being able to carry for longer without pain. And we did a lot of research on this. The existence of a baby carrier company now follows from that, but in that order, allowing for a unique and iconic product to emerge: the only baby carrier in the world with an Exoframe. The patented exoframe technology makes the product’s appearance and functionality very distinctive. You can also see this DNA reflected in the brand, such as the style of the website, the photography, and the partnerships we engage in. NIMBEL actually brings together two trends, urban lifestyle and the outdoor feel. NIMBEL is the only one where these two lifestyles come together so beautifully: a natural result of the outdoor puffer jackets and Salomon shoes that have appeared in the streets.”
And that neon frame?
“We deliberately made the frame neon yellow-green. It showcases the exoframe and gives that technical outdoor feel. It may not appeal to everyone, but that’s also its strength. Perhaps we’ll go for something more neutral in the future, but for now, this is our ‘blue bike tire’.”
How’s business going?
“We see that the brand and the product are gaining more and more recognition. We see this in the engagement on social media, influencers embracing the product, media coverage, and we’re getting more and more calls from abroad. We launched in September 2023 and started marketing and PR in October. Since then, we’ve seen sales steadily increase. At the end of November, we scaled back marketing a bit to allocate budget for the crowdfunding campaign. And after a slight dip, now that the crowdfunding is live, we see sales picking up strongly again. Sales to retail still need a boost, and we’ll be hiring sales capacity for that. The funds from the crowdfunding campaign are intended for that among other things.”
How do you approach the market?
“There’s a lot of focus on explaining our product and building the brand. We’ve put a lot of effort into the product: it’s a premium product with distinctive technology. That needs to be felt in the communication. Because that credibility is important. This means you want to be mentioned on various blogs and we pay a lot of attention to service and customer satisfaction. We have a very customer-friendly return policy, and users can really test the product.”
About distribution: what does that look like?
“We have our own webshop and we sell directly to stores. Meanwhile, we’re in talks with distributors in Germany and Scandinavia to establish channels in those regions. Things are looking good for the DACH region.”
What kind of investment round are you conducting and what kind of investors are you looking for?
“Through our sharefund campaign, you can buy certificates and become a co-owner of NIMBEL. We aim to raise €900,000 in this round. Currently, we’re already at almost 70 percent of that, so things are going well. We welcome both small and large investors, and if people bring strategic knowledge, that’s of course very valuable. Those who bring larger amounts get some discount, and we always have a personal conversation with them to see how we can create the most value together.”