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Co-founder and managing director of Big On Children shares her experience setting up shop in the region

June 16, 2014 4:03 by

By Samar Nabulsi

Becoming an entrepreneur was a dream of mine while studying abroad for my university degree. Becoming a mom – entrepreneur was something I never expected. When my husband and I were still getting to know each other, Ramzy shared with me his vision of the company he had created called Big On Group. He said to me in 2007 that one day we will work together under that brand. A year later, we were on our honeymoon and we came across a kiosk that sells personalized CDs that sing the child’s name. The salesperson told us this American company had existed for several years and continuously releases new languages, more names and new products. Naturally, I fell in love with this idea so I bought a few CDs for my nieces and nephews. Seeing their reaction when they heard their name sung over 80 times was our “light bulb moment”.  Ramzy and I grew confident that there was a gap in the Middle East market for personalized products such as these CDs, Alarm Clocks and DVDs. Fast forward 5 years, Big On Children was born in late 2012, effectively making our company child number 3 for me.

We created the Big On Children Company and logo to match the corporate identity of Big On Group but with a fun twist. The colours of the rainbow and the splash in the background really created a unique look that caught everyone’s attention. We bought the SingYourName rights for the MENA region and in the process we white labelled all their products under our brand. Our operations began with just 3 people with only the personalized CDs, Storybooks, DVDs, and plush toys and grew to a full team of 20 employees with 3 more exclusive product lines this year. These products are Label Itz (personalized silicon bands for baby and toddler bottles, utensils and pacifiers), Little Me (transforms a 2D photo into a 3D face that goes into a plush of the child’s choice) and Hooligans South African Clothing (100% fair trade, fun and affordable clothing).

Our business model is quite simple. We have two franchising models, or as we prefer to call it, distribution sales models. In a franchise, the franchisee pays an upfront fee as well both monthly royalty and marketing fees, calculated as a percentage of revenue. With our distribution model, we offer our distributors a low purchase price for products and no monthly royalty or marketing fees payable to us.  This allows our distributors to enjoy a significant margin that is far more profitable than a standard franchise model.

We either sell the exclusive rights to a master distributor in a country (who can then sell to individuals within their territory), or we sell directly to individuals / entrepreneurs in countries without a master distributor in place. Our business helps entrepreneurs start their business using minimal capital outlay and allowing them to earn great profit margins.

We like to encourage entrepreneurs through our affordable individual distributor model. Individuals can purchase one of the 4 available packages and they can begin selling immediately from home or through an already existing company of theirs like an event management company or a shop/kiosk. Some of our distributors also participate in various events and activities. Some of these events include nurseries and schools, night markets, mom and baby shows, Christmas or Eid markets or even via social media. Our Jordan master for example started as a small package, they re-ordered every 4-6 weeks, encouraging them to become the Exclusive Master distributors for Jordan. This achievement in only 6 months solidifies our vision and is an excellent example to inspire other distributors to take their business to the next level.

We only started venturing out to business partners/distributors in our region about 6 months ago.  We have successfully partnered up with master distributors in Egypt and Jordan and we now have over 18 regional distributors, four of our own locations in Dubai and one international location in New York City.  What our team did to take Big On Children international in only 8 months after opening our Flagship store in Dubai Mall has made us extremely proud.  This achievement has opened a lot of doors for us in Dubai and in the MENA region. With our distribution based business model, we hope to encourage more and more distributors to join the Big On Children family so they too can enjoy the success that we have been fortunate enough to achieve.

We are constantly on the lookout for innovative children’s products that are not yet available in the Middle Eastern market.  Looking ahead, our aim as a company is to enhance the availability of such products with an objective for the rest of 2014 to add at least one new exclusive product line every quarter and in 2015 to double that number. The team at Big On Children is committed and working hard to ensure that our products will not only be educational in nature wherever possible but also help parents to overcome some of the challenges or inconveniences they face daily and above all to put a smile on the faces of both parents and children.


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