Ep# 072: How Tiny Earth Toys launched a subscription toy rental service

We’ve all seen subscription boxes for everything, and kids toys, coding boxes, learning kits and more are common.

But a toy RENTAL service that’s focused on eco-friendly sustainability whose toys are returned and sent back out to a new family?

How does that even work?

How is it safe?

Is THAT business model as sustainable as its products?

I interview founder and CEO Rachael Classi on how she launched, where the idea came from, and how this early startup is sourcing products and pricing their service.

This is probably the youngest startup I’ve interviewed, but there’s still plenty to learn. And it’s an interesting concept with lessons and ideas you can apply to your own business.

Listen in to hear how she launched the company, where the idea came from, and how you case mimic her process to test new ideas before investing a cent:

What you’ll learn:

  • How to test a business concept before launching
  • Pricing considerations for a subscription business
  • Helping customers’ overcome fears and concerns
  • Pros and Cons of small sample sizes for feedback
  • Pros and Cons of defining your business model’s limitations

Post-Interview notes and thoughts

tiny earth toys founder rachael classi with kids
Racheal’s two daughters helped inspire the idea that kids toys have a short shelf life, so why not just rent them?

Rachael and I ended up talking for almost half an hour more after I stopped recording. I love talking to founders, it’s inspiring nd comforting to hear that we’re all struggling with the same things, even if our businesses our vastly different.

One of the biggest things we agreed on is just how much work it is, and the need to focus on our strengths and delegate the rest. This is a topic I’ll cover in more detail in another episode.

I found out that each toy kit achieves profitability after two rental cycles.

But those rental cycles are four months each.

So, as of this episode’s publishing date, she has no idea what condition the toys will be in when they’re returned, because they’re all still out on their first round.

Assuming they come back fine, the bigger challenge might be how to keep those toys fresh and interesting?

How do you keep the parents engaged?

How do you keep them excited about the next shipment, especially if they were to move to a monthly or quarterly subscription model versus the current paid in full up front model?

Tiny Earth Toys kit for subscription rental to spur early childhood development and learning

This got me thinking. For Tiny Earth Toys, the parent is the customer, but the child is the end user, so you have to market to the needs and desires of one party while ensuring the actual product meets the needs of an entirely different party.

That’s key to understand. But I want to give you two different examples that might be more applicable to your business:

First, you might only be marketing the end user, but what if you have a retail partner…if your retailer’s not sold on your brand, product or service, they’re not going to push it very hard in their stores. If it’s not designed to merchandise well and promote itself, it may not sell through when sitting next to your competitors’ products.

Second, you might be selling a solution for a work force, maybe a CRM or internal communications platform like Slack. Maybe the end users will love it, but you have to sell the upper management and procurement team on why it will make THEM look good to their bosses. They’re not concerned about easier messaging, they need to be able to show that they increased productivity, speed to market, or profitability. 

For Tiny Earth Toys, she has a lot of different messages she could be using… sustainability, eco friendliness, early childhood development, product safety… each appealing to a different audience for different reasons.

The key is making sure they, and you, get the right message to the right person at the right time.

Thanks for listening. Be sure to subscribe to The Build Cycle on your favorite podcast player, and join my weekly Bite Size Content newsletter for quick, actionable content marketing tips every Thursday!

Until next time, Keep Building!

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