Paul Carney

Working hard to make things simple

My First Web Business – The Birth of the Idea (Part 1 of 5)

Back in 1996, I was looking for a reason to build a Web-based business. I had started playing around with building Web sites, but wanted to see if I could launch a successful business using the Web.

I began by building a few interactive Web sites. In 1996, there were not many online e-commerce Web sites, so I had to go looking for ways to build one. I found the gem: Matt’s Script Archives.  This is a site, which still exists today, managed by Matt Wright that had a load of Perl CGI scripts which I could use to build my interactive Web site, including a shopping cart. I know – a shopping cart is very basic today, but it was not back in 1996!

So I found a Web hosting company, built some Perl scripts and had an interactive Web site. But what should I sell? My wife was the one who sparked the idea of a niche baby gift basket.

My sister was having twin boys very soon and she seemed to have everything (times 2) already. My wife and I already had our first child, so we knew about some of the things that you need but don’t have when a baby is around. In addition, my wife is a pharmacist and would field many questions from new Moms about baby-related issues and items.

So as a gift, my wife went around the pharmacy and gathered items that she knew, from experience, that my sister would most likely need. These items included things like:

  1. a nasal syringe – remember: babies can’t blow their noses when they get a cold
  2. Infans’ Tylenol – to reduce a fever, which inevitably occurs at 11:00 pm when the local pharmacy is not open
  3. baby nail clippers – they are so tiny but I could still use them with my big hands
  4. gel teether – a lifesaver for a teething baby!
And the list went on. My wife was so proud of this gift that she put a few more together when friends of ours were having their first babies.
What a hit! We got calls from people telling us that their baby awoke in the middle of the night with a fever. They called the doctor and the doctor said to give them some Infants’ Tylenol to reduce the fever. The nearest 24-hour pharmacy was more than an hour away, but luckily for them, their gift basket from us had it!
We heard stories like this over and over and that is when I decided to give birth (just couldn’t resist the pun…) to the “Baby Necessities Gift Basket”.
In my next post, I will tell the story of how I decided on the contents and sourced the suppliers. To this day, I am still amazed at how I got one of the top baby products companies in the country to ship me products via tractor trailers – and extend me a credit line to do it! Stay tuned to learn what I did.
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