Some of the greatest inventions and product innovations of our time were born out of necessity, grit and pure tenacity. I sat down with Maryam Nabavi, CEO & Founder of Babbly to talk about her inspiring personal journey and the adversity she overcame which ultimately inspired the development of Babbly. Not only did she take matters into her own hands and solve the problem – she then took action created a product to help others in her situation.
Read more about Maryam and Babbly in the interview below!
Babbly was born from a challenging personal experience. Tell us how the idea came to life, what Babbly does, and where you are at today?
In 2018 after my son’s second birthday, I noticed he wasn’t speaking much, so I took him to the pediatrician. From that initial appointment it took us 12 months to convince our doctor to connect us to the right resources. After 6 months of speech therapy my son was able to talk. Although it was a happy story, it was a frustrating process, because I didn’t have the right resources or information to make a decision about my child’s health.
This experience was the inspiration behind Babbly’s product. The product is a mobile app that attempts to create a way for parents to track their child’s speech and language. Parents can upload a video or audio recording and we can instantly give them results on what kind of speech skills their baby has and give ideas and exercises that can help them.
What’s unique about your product?
There are many apps, books and Facebook groups around children development, however most of them offer activities that are based on how old a child is. The issue with that is children grow at different paces, and there is no one formula.
Babbly helps differently by giving child a set of activities customized to their stage of development. Similar to personal training, these activities are curated by experts and are a set of exercises tailored to a child’s own stage and goals.
You have an interesting background – from your education in Aerospace, to your consulting days at Idea Couture. What are the key pieces of your experiences that you feel have helped you persevere as a tech entrepreneur at Babbly today?
There are 3 pieces of my past experience I think have really helped me as an entrepreneur:
1. My training in engineering has enabled me to pull problems apart into fundamental pieces to make sound assumptions. It has also given me the ability to effectively communicate with my developers and speak with more technical team members.
2. Innovation strategy – I started my career as a product and design researcher and was heavily involved in innovation research from the very start. Experience in consumer research, ethnographic research and the art of interviewing gave me the ability to figure out how to see and hear what people don’t tell you when a new idea is put in front of them.
3. Client Pitching – without my days in consulting and constantly pitching clients on different ideas, I don’t think I would be where I am today without it.
How has your business been affected by the pandemic? What opportunities do you see in front of Babbly as the new world is emerging in front of us?
I’m lucky to work with a number of smart experts who are passionate about our product. My co-founder Carla is one of strongest woman in tech I know. We also have team of developers who are all used to working remotely, so luckily our day-to-day work hasn’t been impacted much.
We’ve also seen some interesting opportunities come out of pandemic. In the first week, all in-person appointments with speech therapists were cancelled or put on hold. This is heartbreaking for parents as many of them have been waiting for 6-12 months to get an appointment. To help parents get access to a therapist faster, we launched a pilot that allows them to at least get connected and speak with a therapist via Zoom. Shifting to video appointments is a big change in healthcare that I think will continue.
What is your top piece of advice for women tech entrepreneurs who are looking to pitch/launch a product? Are there any learnings that you would pass along?
Toronto’s tech ecosystem is really supportive and provides a ton of resources and events for those looking to launch their own product. The diversity of the space has really evolved and it’s very common to see woman pitching and launching their own products now.
My advice for women who want to take the next step – be bold and creative; every industry has been challenged because of the new world we live in, so there’s a huge opportunity in creating new order. There’s no better time to take risks as the old notion of normal and comfort has gone by already.