Melbourne’s sixth lockdown provided an unlikely period of transformation for Monica Meldrum and Whole Kids, the healthy snack foods company she co-founded with her husband, James.
The two working parents kept the business running with their small kids remote learning from home, and after having suffered an earlier setback as airlines shut down in the wake of the pandemic.
Whole Kids is supplied across Qantas flights, a massive distribution point as kids are supplied the snack foods on flights — but one that obviously didn’t have the demand during lockdowns.
Still, Meldrum’s more than made up for it. Whole Kids has just signed a major deal with ALDI, which will see their products distributed across more than 500 supermarkets from December.
And they’re set to broaden further internationally, having just signed an agreement with PinkFong, the creators of Baby Shark — which boasts almost 10 billion views on YourTube, and the most-watched video of all time.
The deal will see Whole Kids rolling out Baby Shark branded products across new markets, just as Pinkfong launches a new TV show and movie throughout Asia. It’s a massive opportunity for the brand. In Korea alone, Meldrum says the partnership will give it access to more than 10,000 distribution points.
Meldrum started the business back in 2005, with her husband James Meldrum. In 2013, she won the Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards for Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year, one of numerous awards the business and Meldrum have picked up.
Now they’re seeking expressions of interest for their second crowdfunding raise, in order to help support the business’ expansion. Last year, they raised $1.2 million through Birchal, the same crowdfunding platform they are using for this second round.
The 2020 raise saw a number of female investors come on board, including high profile investors like Adore Beauty’s Kate Morris and Business Chicks’ Emma Isaacs.
As Meldrum tells Women’s Agenda, they saw significant support from women and parents who purchase the brand and were keen to support a female-led and local business.
This time, she says the crowdfunding raise will give more opportunities for women to invest in a brand they may already use and love, and to be a part of its expansion.
She also says that crowdfunding has provided a great alternative to the traditional VC route. “When you go down that path, you’re often meeting with men who don’t really have a connection to the brand, whereas through crowdfunding, people often already have an understanding of it.”
Meldrum adds that the crowdfunding path enables them to further highlight the value of a female-led business, led by a mother with kids who consume these products — and then enabling others to see more parents backing the brand.
“It’s powerful to be able to go back to our customers and know we have this crowd of parents behind us who support the brand and want to see it grow,” she says.