First-Time Entrepreneur Nina Nsilo-Swai Finds Success with the Pee-kaboo Potty Training Sticker
Parenthood brings many joys; however, potty training is not one of them. Many parents struggle with how to make this process as quick and painless as possible. Montclair resident and entrepreneur Nina Nsilo-Swai believes she just might have the solution. Nsilo-Swai’s company is Rahrababy.com and her invention is the Pee-kaboo Reusable Potty Training Sticker.
You might be thinking, a sticker? Is that it? How is a simple thing like a sticker going to solve such a huge problem? “It’s a sticker that goes in the potty,” said Nsilo-Swai. “It has a visual image (such as a butterfly or a fire truck) that is revealed only when your child has a potty success. It is a visual reward that is easily understood by any child that understands cause and effect and is a great way to get your child engaged in and excited about potty training.”
Nsilo-Swai was raised in New York City and attended boarding school in the United Kingdom. She has degrees from Cornell and Columbia Universities. “My professional background was in housing and urban policy and I worked with programs assisting disadvantaged families in Harlem, the South Bronx and Brooklyn,” said Nsilo-Swai.
However, after her first child was born, she became a stay-at-home mom and began thinking of possible businesses she could start from home. “The Pee-kaboo Potty Training Sticker came out of my experience potty training my son who has autism,” said Nsilo-Swai.
Traditionally, parents have used small treats like candy or toys as a reward for using the potty. However, many parents these days are looking for better options. The Pee-kaboo Potty Training Sticker has the benefit of being immediate. If the child gets the reward sometime later, they may not make the connection. “Furthermore, when a child creates their own reward it can be a much stronger reinforcer than a reward that is handed to them by a parent or caregiver,” said Nsilo-Swai.
As a first time entrepreneur without a traditional business background, Nsilo-Swai says that it was a challenge to get her idea off the ground. “I would drop my kids off in school and work in cafes or the library and take calls in my car. I would have six hours of focused time each day and I learned so much from the internet.”
Once she had the idea, picture designs and a manufacturer, the hardest part was getting the Pee-kaboo Sticker to the consumer. That continues to be a process. “There isn’t really another product like mine on the market,” said Nsilo-Swai.
She said that tradeshows have been an invaluable experience for her. “Tradeshows are a great opportunity for new products to meet retailers from across the country and the world,” said Nsilo-Swai. “Retailers are bombarded with so many calls and mailings about new products, but during a regular business day, they can’t always take the time to assess each product’s value. At a tradeshow, retailers can take the time to meet with brands, see how things work, and spend some time learning about the creators. Tradeshows are also a great place to meet other brands, form relationships, share resources and collaborate. I have befriended and learned so much about what it takes to be a success from other entrepreneurs I have met at tradeshows.”
Nsilo-Swai launched Pee-kaboo in June of 2014 because June is National Potty Training Awareness Month. Since then, she is grateful for the positive response she has had from the Montclair community. “One of the first stores to carry my product was the retail section at Kidville,” said Nsilo-Swai. “Several local kids’ boutiques have also carried Pee-kaboo, including Apple Village. I had a table at the Walnut Street Fair last year and did really well there, too.”
As someone who has braved the business world with very little prior business knowledge, Nsilo-Swai has some unique insights for other potential entrepreneurs. “If you have an idea,” she said, “first ask yourself what problem you are solving. In order to be a success, your idea needs to solve a problem and if people cannot identify with that problem, then you don’t really have a good idea. Next, talk to as many people as you can about your idea and try to get their honest opinions. This will mean stepping out of your circle of supportive friends and family and asking strangers – Facebook groups that address your problem are perfect for that. Then you will know if it is worth it to even move forward.”
“Finally,” she added, “remember that every idea doesn’t have to be something incredibly complicated or technical. The iPhone is a fantastic invention that has made things easier for parents, but so has the coffee cup holder that attached to the stroller.”