An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Jasmin Smith (founder and CEO) of Baby Vend, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of Baby Vend – what problem were you trying to solve and why?
Baby Vend was founded in 2017 when I found myself stuck in a long line at the mall. My son had used his last diaper and I was shopping and knew if I had to get out of line and leave to get him supplies, I would not come back. So I engineered a diaper out of random items I found in the store.
I told myself I never would do that again, and I wanted to make sure other parents in a situation similar to mine would not find themselves stuck without the supplies they desperately needed. I set out to create something, unique, accessible, and affordable.
What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?
I literally had no idea how to use a vending machine. This was my first time starting and running a tech company and it was a huge learning curve. It took me almost a year to not only fine tune using the the technology that came with my vending machine, but also even more time to learn about the custom vending business, find locations, find customers, acquire products, and so much more.
What does the future hold for Baby Vend?
I believe our future is bright and I’m so excited to have a company that can help families in need. My greatest desire is for families to enjoy their vacation and focus on their destination and not stress what they have to pack. I also want to empower other women of color and single moms to start businesses and find their place in the tech industry.
What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Anchorage?
The tech scene in Alaska is small but growing quickly. I believe it is still an untapped market but there are some amazing startups doing the work and trying to put Alaska on the map. I feel like it was different when I got started. As a black woman brand new to this type of entrepreneurship, I felt lonely and on my own initially, but the conversations about how to help us grow and succeed in Alaska are getting better.
What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
My advice is plan your business and write it all down. I know some people say you don’t need a business plan, but I’m a firm believer in it. It made a world of a difference for me and I still update it regularly. For growing companies, I would also encourage founders and CEOs to make a job description of all the things they do – that way it’s easier when it’s time to hire folks to help them, and they can delegate the task that they don’t have time to do or don’t like.