Becoming a parent is a daunting task, one that often leaves little room for much else as a mom or dad anticipates the arrival of their newborn. But such was not the case for Shawn Bercuson, co-founder and CEO of Finnbin (and who I’m lucky to work with there!). When his wife was pregnant with their first daughter, it spurred an idea that has grown into what is now Finnbin. I talked with Shawn to learn more about how becoming a dad inspired him and the challenges (and rewards) he experienced in launching a new company at the same time his daughter was born.
Catherine Merritt: What inspired you to launch Finnbin at the same time your wife was expecting your first child?
Shawn Bercuson: In hindsight, launching a company at the same time you are expecting your first child is probably not the smartest move; however, Finnbin is a product that was the result of actually going through the process of becoming a parent for the first time. My wife and I both try to be conscientious consumers and wanted to continue this practice as new parents. We quickly discovered that there are a lot of products for new parents and trying to balance making smart decisions for our child but also paying attention to finances can be overwhelming.
While doing some research on which products to buy, we stumbled upon the Finnish tradition of baby boxes and we're instantly intrigued. It was at that moment we decided that we should bring this concept to the US and, in keeping with the tradition, fill it with baby products and brands that we had come to love.
CM: How has it been raising your daughter while launching a new company?
SB: Launching a company while trying to figure out how to parent certainly has its challenges in the office and at home, but having my daughter as the inspiration to launch this company keeps my motivation at a level I've never experienced before. Unlike other companies that I've been involved with, this is the first one that feels like a family affair. My wife has been amazing and incredibly supportive throughout the entire process and has even spent time in the office helping me pack Finnbin's to ship while my daughter takes a nap or plays with whatever toys she's able to get her hands on. At the same time, I can be a bit of a work-a-holic, but having a newborn at home has helped me turn off once I leave the office and separate my personal life from my work life.
CM: What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs who see an opportunity but may not know where to begin in getting it off the ground?
SB: Build a support network before jumping in head first. Being an entrepreneur can be incredibly difficult mentally, emotionally, and sometimes physically. Without having friends, family, colleagues, or mentors to confide in, your experience can be a long and trying journey. Having a support network won't necessarily prevent you from experiencing hardship, but it will help you get through it. Plus, I personally find it much more rewarding to share wins with others.
CM: How have your previous experiences prepared you for the huge success you're seeing right now with Finnbin?
SB: My career as an entrepreneur has had its share of ups and downs all of which have helped me prepare for Finnbin. I think the one thing that I've learned in my previous business endeavors that helps me with Finnbin is the ability to keep things in perspective. Finnbin is still in the early innings and we experience highs and lows nearly every hour of every day. I try my best to keep my center of gravity balanced to the best of my ability to try to prevent emotional swings that might knock Finnbin off of its current path.