From Shark Tank to Harness Projects – the Midwife educating the world on childbirth
A guest post from CEO and Founder of Birth Beat, Edwina Sharrock.
With Channel 10’s Shark Tank being watched by 1.5 million people in Australia each week, businesses facing the sharks often have a huge and immediate boost in business after being featured on the show.
Take Bare + Boho, a cloth nappy business, who were on last week’s episode. The founder took to Facebook 48 hours later to announce they’d done 2 months of sales in the 2 days following the show – turning over $20,000 in revenue, in addition to an outpouring of support on social media.
We’re so excited to have another current season Shark Tank contestant on a Harness Project this round – Birth Beat, who will be on the show later this season.
About Birth Beat
Birth Beat are revolutionising the way we prepare for birth. They have created a fun, simple and easy health tech platform, that helps women and their families prepare for birth. There is no longer any need for inconvenient face to face classes; courses are delivered online by Registered Midwives, lactation consultants and women’s health experts, and have been endorsed by Obstetricians throughout Australia.
We spoke with CEO and Founder of Birth Beat Edwina Sharrock about her Shark Tank experience, and why she came to Harness Projects to move her digital marketing forward.
How did Birth Beat happen?
I love to share my “why” when I talk about Birth Beat. So, I live in Tamworth in regional Australia, and when I was 36 weeks pregnant with daughter (who is now 6) the local private maternity unit closed its doors without any public consultation. I was really cranky, as regional Australia didn’t have any choice in their birthing education. After a lot of ranting my husband asked why I didn’t just do something about it; and so we started teaching under the name Birth Beat.
We started offering small, quality, face-to-face education classes once a month in Tamworth… and then we began to grow.
Moving beyond Tamworth
One day we had a couple come from 500km away from Tamworth. they paid for 2 night accommodation and drove 1000km return to come to a Birth Beat class.
I really love talking to women and their support people and I asked them “why are you here?” They told me nothing else was available to them, so I did some research and found that 41% of maternity units had closed in the last 15 years in Australia. So we’ve almost halved our maternity units, but there’s this incredible demand out there for childbirth education classes.
The next month we had a couple come from Sydney, and I was like, come on, there’s definitely classes in Sydney. But they had heard we were the best and I just became completely overwhelmed and thought I should sell the business because it got really scary. I thought, I’m not a business person, I’m a midwife!
Growing and scaling Birth Beat with a move to online
There are 300,000 births in Australia every year, 700,000 in the UK and 3 million in the US… it’s not a market that’s drying up any time soon, and there’s definitely demand for high quality, flexible childbirth education.
I have a really big, strong vision, and my vision is to better the birth experience for all. Not just mums, but mums and dads, or dads and dads, or aunties, or support people, whoever will experience that birth with the woman.
With knowledge comes power – I want everyone to become educated. I started to look at a franchise model, I employed another midwife and she was amazing, but I started hearing “make sure you book into Edwina’s class” – you know, Birth Beat is my 3rd baby. So we decided to go online.
I just started Googling how to build an online platform, we did it, and it has just been insane. We won a couple of awards last year which opened up some doors, we got onto the highly competitive HCF Catalyst health accelerator powered by Slingshot, we got onto Shark Tank, and the uptake has just been crazy. We haven’t even started with a marketing plan yet, so I’m excited to see where it goes!
Going on Shark Tank
I’ll be really honest, we don’t own a TV so I’d never seen the show. I was tapped on the shoulder when we were a finalist for the Google Regional Online Hero last year and someone mentioned the show, saying they were looking for female founders and regional businesses. Since we tick both boxes we were asked if we were interested.
Initially I said no, but I talked to my entrepreneurial friends and decided to change my mind and take the plunge. After I got through the first round I sat down and watched the entire show with my Mum, who turned around and told me she didn’t think I should do it – she thought they were so harsh!
But, of course, I did say yes and I am excited to see where it takes us. 1.5 million people watch Shark Tank in Australia and I’ve had some incredible opportunities already so I am excited.
Harnessing the Shark Tank exposure
I’ve been so excited to work with Harness Projects now. Literally – how do we harness the incredible exposure of talking to 1.5 million people on prime time television? How do we make the most of it?
We’re going to have 12 people on this Digital Marketing project helping us while they learn marketing skills from the previous Head of Marketing at LinkedIn. For us, this is a huge opportunity to get the Birth Beat story, passion and vision out to the people that need to hear it. I want to see smart, strategic ideas. Have some completely different ideas? Let’s explore it! I’ll be handing this over to Nell, the industry expert mentor, to help the students bring this to life.
Which direction will the marketing take?
There’s a lot of assumptions around who we should be marketing to – people assume we should be talking to these mummy blogs and brands, but my target is first time mums and they’re not looking in those places before their first baby. It’s only in a period of 9 months, which sounds challenging but is really exciting because they have to purchase in that 9 months – they can’t come back to us in a year, the baby will be born!
On this project I see the students really looking at psychology and realising that our market are still at the office, they’re reading SMH, they’re maybe looking to move to the suburbs. Birth Beat is all about showing them that this is not as scary and daunting as it may seem. We’re here to empower them. That’s the market we want to talk to and we have all this value to show them that they don’t need to be scared!
Some advice from Edwina
To anyone reading who is wanting to get started or upskill in Digital Marketing – just start – take a chance, get out there, you might not get it perfect but if you don’t start doing what you want to do it’s never going to happen. I was totally green and spent a lot of time googling with Birth Beat. I would have loved something like a Harness Project where I could learn and speak to an expert each week. It would have saved me a lot of time and money!
This project is also potentially my way of getting to know someone to join Birth Beat – I don’t have a digital marketing team, but I want to build one after this project has completed.
Want to learn more about the Birth Beat digital marketing project? Visit the digital marketing project page to learn more.