By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant
When Aleshia Rickard, second place winner at the 2012 Silicon Valley Business Plan Competition, was asked to partner with her sister-in-law on a baby carrier business three years ago, it was an offer she could not refuse.
“I was able to utilize my background in the sports industry and my contacts to help bring the baby carrier to more of a final, market-ready, sellable product,” said Rickard, ’12 Business Administration with a Concentration in Entrepreneurship.
Onya Baby, which won the $5,000 Larry Boucher Second Prize, makes soft-structured baby carriers designed to help families with young children retain their active, social lifestyles.
According to Rickard, Onya Baby’s patent-pending integrated chair harness and support system is what sets Onya Baby apart from its competition.
“I travel a lot and it’s been really helpful to have family meals together,” said customer Osha Maloney. “I’ve also tried other carriers and the shoulder straps are just not as comfortable.”
The product is gaining momentum in the industry just nine months into launch. Onya Baby has already won two gold awards for new baby gear including a Mom’s Choice Award and a National Parenting Publication Award.
Entering the business plan competition gave Rickard a chance to fine-tune her business plan and take a look at how she’s doing.
“It gave me a lot of confidence that I was doing the proper things at the right time and that I have a good strategy,” Rickard said.
Rickard plans to use the $5,000 prize money toward trade show booths for October’s ABC Kids Expo, the largest industry trade show in the world being held in Louisville, KY.