Marketplace: Finnbin baby boxes bring Finnish tradition to Park City
Shawn Bercuson was weeks away from becoming a dad when he had an idea. A little nervous for the life change, he spent hours scouring the internet for something he could purchase that contained all he needed to bring a baby home.
It was then that he discovered a Finnish tradition that changed everything.
He ordered a baby box from Finland, an open cardboard box filled with necessities to clothe and take care of a newborn. The box doubles as a portable carrier or bed for babies.
“Opening the box, instantly we felt like we were prepared enough and had a good foundation for the baby,” he said.
Bercuson, who has started four other businesses, saw the opportunity to bring Finnish baby boxes to the U.S. and, six months later, Finnbin Baby Box Company was born.
Like his idea for Finnbin, Bercuson stumbled upon entrepreneurship by chance. He graduated from Vanderbilt University in economics in hopes of pursuing a career in investment banking and consulting. He ended up as a bond trader in Chicago, where he traded U.S. Treasury bonds in overseas markets during the graveyard shift. After a couple of years there, he wanted a change.
He joined a hedge fund and private equity company outside of Chicago and, there, came up with his idea for his first startup, a peer-to-peer lending company. He developed the company and was searching for investors when another entrepreneur offered to buy it. Bercuson agreed and moved onto another project with a private equity and consulting firm.
It closely aligned with his early plans for life, but he had caught the entrepreneurship bug and wanted to keep starting businesses. He went on to become a founding member of Groupon, a popular e-commerce marketplace that connects subscribers with coupons on goods and services. Then, he left for San Francisco to start two more businesses and advise early-stage startups.
He met his future wife in San Francisco and they started visiting Park City for ski vacations, and then bought a second home here because they enjoyed it so much.
After growing tired of the overwhelming amount of startups in Silicon Valley, Bercuson and his wife returned to his home state of Florida. He and his wife continued to visit Park City until they decided that they wanted to make a permanent move.
They were in the middle of the move when Bercuson started shipping baby products to Park City as they prepared to leave Florida. Bercuson wanted the Finnish baby box with them in Florida so they were ready if the baby came early.
Right after he received the box and realized how novel the idea was, he wasted no time in researching the top baby companies and reaching out to see if they would be interested in partnering. He started making calls in July of 2016 and, by November, he had more than 10 partnerships with some of the top baby companies in the U.S., he said. The business officially launched in January of 2017.
The baby companies he partnered with provided items for inside the boxes, such as onesies, towels, pacifiers, diapers and thermometers. The small mattresses in the box come from California and the boxes from Salt Lake City. The boxes are arranged in a warehouse in Browns Canyon. Bercuson and his team work out of a space inside of the Skullcandy headquarters.
Bercuson said that, even though he has started several other businesses, this one has challenges he was not anticipating. Supply chain management, from production to shipping to fulfilling orders, has proved more difficult than expected, for instance.
“It’s as if I have never started a business before,” he said. “It’s all brand new.”
But he has enjoyed the challenge, especially because the baby boxes are more meaningful than previous technology companies he worked with, he said. After launching, he heard from hospitals and nonprofits that were interested in purchasing the boxes for low-income families who could not afford all that a newborn needs.
Finnbin has partnered with Bay Area Hospital in Oregon, The Parenting Cottage in Texas and Mountain Park Health Center in Arizona to provide boxes to their patients.
“It’s beyond description. It’s really neat that you can make such a difference in someone’s life,” he said. He said that the box can also help reduce sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by giving the baby a safe sleeping environment. Finnbin provides information about safe sleeping habits for babies in each of its boxes to make sure the parents and babies have all they need for a healthy start.
Finnbin Baby Box Company
6301 N Landmark Drive
In May, the long-time owners, Joy and Geir Vik, announced their retirement and passed on the business to the Brian and Dena Merrill, and their son, Dylan, who had been their friends and colleagues for years.
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