Yahoo! Small Business announced the final winner of their Seeds for Success Grant Program. Dana Rubinstein won for her company, Dapple, which produces baby-safe, environmentally friendly cleansers. Dana, who holds a BA from Yale University and a JD from Columbia School of Law, tells us how she got started with her idea:
"About two years ago, while tackling one of the most mundane tasks – washing baby bottles – a light bulb went on in my head. I had noticed that conventional cleaners left a synthetic fragrance and film residue on the bottles, and after searching for “baby-friendly” cleansers for bottles and toys, I was stumped to find any good solutions in the market. As mothers concerned about limiting the chemical exposure of our children, my business partner Tamar Rosenthal and I set out to fill this market gap by creating a line of products that are natural, safe and specifically targeted to clean messes unique to babies and young children, such as breast milk, formula, and sticky fingerprints. After two years of working with a team of “green” chemists and pediatricians to develop the best possible product, we were just getting ready to launch our retail business when we learned that we’d been selected as finalists with two other small, women-owned businesses, in Yahoo! Small Business’ Seeds for Success program.
Almost immediately, we noticed the significant benefit of having the Yahoo! Small Business name and support behind us, adding the needed credibility to help us secure space in small and large retailers. Perhaps most importantly, Yahoo! Small Business and Carolyn Kepcher’s Finding What Matters armed us with a team of business mentors to guide us through everything from branding to supply chain management. By some stroke of luck, each time we faced a new development or challenge, we’d find ourselves meeting with a mentor with specific expertise in that field!
In particular, Scott Smigler at Exclusive Concepts revamped our Web site by adding e-commerce functionality, optimizing it for search engines and incorporating Dapple’s branding and messaging. He also helped us to leverage social media to reach the active online mom and parenting community. We are so thankful for the opportunity afforded us by Yahoo! Small Business and Finding What Matters, and as a result of our mentors’ advice and encouragement, and the seed money that was part of the award for winning the Seeds for Success contest, we’ve expanded our online presence and product line, and have come one step closer to becoming a staple in households with children."
In the past six months, Dana established product distribution with 45 local and online boutiques and two major retailers according to Seeds for Success. We hope Dana sees continued growth and achievement in 2009.