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INNOVATORS Q&A

Oh, baby: This startup says it’s designed a better stroller

Bombi Gear promotes the ‘fastest one-handed fold’ on the market.

Bombi Gear has just launched Bēbee, a line of compact, lightweight, and eco-conscious travel strollers. The founders, Kelsey Nolan (left), Mike Fusco (middle), and Chris Parente (right), are based in Providence, R.I.Bombi Gear

Three consumer product experts believe they have designed the perfect baby stroller, with what they claim is “the fastest one-handed fold” on the market.

Bombi Gear, a Rhode Island startup launched by Kelsey Nolan, Mike Fusco, and Chris Parente, recently introduced Bēbee, a line of compact, lightweight, and eco-conscious travel strollers.

More than half of each stroller is made out of recycled plastic from about 40 plastic bottles.

Q. The baby market is incredibly saturated. What makes your stroller stand out?

Nolan: The stroller market is insane. There are so many platforms, different categories, and parents often feel completely overwhelmed. So from a branding perspective, we wanted to make baby gear that parents can feel good about and put parents and the planet first. This is the perfect hybrid of a lightweight stroller and full-size stroller. It combines the convenience of lightweight with all the features and functionality that parents would expect to find in a full-size stroller.

Q. How small is the stroller when it’s folded up?

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Fusco: You can fold it up and place it in the back seat behind the driver’s or passenger seat, slip it into your trunk, or slide it in the closet. You don’t need a minivan or SUV for this kind of stroller.

Q. Who is this stroller for?

Fusco: Our stroller is age-coded for six months to up to 50 pounds. It has high-wind resistance and we offer, as a separate accessory, a rain cover that’s custom-made to make sure it’s secured down to our strollers. The seat doesn’t have any seams or openings so it protects from the wind or cold, but there’s vents at the top to help with heat.

We’re looking at this stroller as our entry-in. We are focused on winning in this group and market, but there are other segments we could enter into (like jogging strollers, double strollers, adventure strollers). We have prototypes and concepts already in the works, but we’re focusing on this one so we can branch off from there.

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Q. Tell me about your eco-friendly commitment.

Fusco: Every one of our strollers utilizes recycled bottles of water for the fabric material. To date, we’ve already used or recycled 20,000 water bottles. For a company that’s three weeks old, it’s easy to imagine that number growing by 20 times by the end of the year. We use aircraft-quality aluminum construction materials in all of our strollers so that it lasts. We know that there’s no sense in calling something “conscious” if it only lasts one season. Since we ship direct-to-consumer instead of shipping the product to a distribution center or a box store and then to the consumer, we are also cutting down on fossil fuels.

Also, when you purchase a piece of gear in the child space typically, everything is wrapped in plastic and fillers. We don’t use any of that. We put the stroller into a carry bag (also made out of recycled bottles). There’s no plastic bags, ties, or peanuts.

Q. How hard is it to get stains out?

Fusco: We worked really hard to get a material made out of recycled plastic water bottles soft enough for kids, but so it’s also stain-resistant. If you pour a cup of Kool-Aid on there, it will roll right off.

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Q. What kinds of challenges do you face in trying to stand out?

Nolan: The juvenile is interesting because it’s always a little further behind in everything else. For example, when you look at outdoor or adventure market, they are really talking to the consumer. [The marketing aspect] has a very conversational tone. When you look at the baby market, there’s this veil still that parents have to be picture-perfect parents. We’re trying to get rid of that. Women, especially, can love their kids and need a break from them, too. Our products are intentionally easy to use and embrace the “modern parent.”

Q. What are your year-long and five-year goals with Bombi Gear?

Nolan: We’ll continue finding sustainable materials to work with. At this point, we’d like to make the fabric even more sustainable right now. Maybe in five years we’ll expand, but right now we are focusing on the lightweight, convenient stroller category.

Q. Where is Bombi Gear available?

Nolan: It’s not on Amazon or in stores. We sell directly to the consumer on our website. Our lightweight stroller costs $199.

Fusco: The reason why is because oftentimes, when you’re selling and developing products for the big box stores, there are certain parameters that need to be met right and it always leads to compromises within the margins. Now, we skipped that entire step, for us and for the consumer.


Alexa Gagosz can be reached at alexa.gagosz@globe.com. Follow her @alexagagosz and on Instagram @AlexaGagosz.