This week’s Ambassador Feature is with Deborah Brodie, Bop Along Buddies
2017 AusMumpreneur of the Year (Silver winner)
Tell us about yourself and your business?
I am a mother of 2 and the wife to an amazing husband. We have a crazy little farm with a menagerie of animals that bring much happiness to our lives in semi rural Sydney.
I have had an extensive career in sales and business development, across a number of iconic brand including Sony PlayStation, Bendon, Elle Macpherson, Optus. With a number of critical roles in the Pharmaceutical industry I developed an interest in the areas of special needs with a specific focus on cerebral palsy and cystic fibrosis. It was this interest and the drive to help improve the lives of children that Bop Along Buddies was created.
We created it at a time when our first baby was due after an extremely long battel to start a family. So the ability to provide care for my baby and assist in the health and wellbeing of children drove the passion for the brand.
What was your inspiration for your business?
I wanted to help children with special needs have affordable access to products that could help with some of the deficiencies that come with their disorders. I also wanted to introduce the current generation to toys that we had so much fun with but that would help with the development of key motor skills through simple fun play.
I was also aware that the exercise and gross motor skills programs had been removed from the schools programs which had seen an massive increase in the number of children not participating in any sporting activities and not developing the essential motor skills the need for life, which left a great opening for a product that might address these areas. So I set about researching a few options and ways of manufacturing and I came a cross an technique and mould that would be the start of the development of Bop Along Buddies.
Did you have any experience in running a business or in this industry before?
No, I had no experience in manufacturing or the toy industry.
What’s your point of difference that makes your business special or unique?
We are the only product of the kind to offer ranges from 0 year up ad that offer product suitable for adult use. We also redeveloped the core materials to remove the dangerous components and make them safer and significantly better for children. We have several critical safeties features no other company has and we also have the largest range in the market. We have several world firsts and exclusive designs which make us stand out from the industry competitors.
What have you learnt about yourself since becoming an entrepreneur?
How unbelievably resilient I am and how when you get knocked down you brush yourself off and keep on marching forward. I have learnt to be resourceful and just how far I can push myself.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced and how have you overcome them?
We have faced many issues including major faults, failure to supply from overseas suppliers, financial constraints after a shipment of 60% failures, later supply and losses due to postal issues. To overcome them we have put in place many processes to address supply and failure. We have staff on the ground in china that manage our production, we have specialised supply contracts with penalties if they fail to meet the conditions including failure rates and supply deadlines. We have also out in place significant postal checks to try and address the issues with postage.
What lessons have your business taught you about life?
Life is as busy as you make it but you should stop and enjoy what you build. I have also realised that you will never work as hard for anyone as you do yourself but that no matter how hard you try you will never be able to make absolutely everyone happy so you need to pick your battles wisely and ensure you look after yourself.
If you could go back to when you were starting your business and give your younger self some advice what would you tell her?
Put in place a on the ground support immediately no matter how will you think you have it managed unless you are there you will be at risk of fraud and dishonest behaviour without representation there for you. Don’t be afraid to take the risk to do something different and outside of the square it will surprise you how it may pay off. Find and be part of a great network, being an entrepreneur is lonely, the support helps you move forward. Don’t take it personally when friends and family don’t support you, it is their own insecurity and jealousy that is eating them. Stand tall move forward and be the best you that you can be.
What’s next for your business?
Growth and expansion into the US.
If you could change the world, and money was no object, what would you do?
I would do a couple things.
1. I would do everything in my power find a cure for cancer
2. I would work to find ways to help better assist children with disabilities to try and unlock the codes of the brain and reverse the damage so they can live better lives.
To learn more about Deb and Bop Along Buddies, please visit