When parents drop their kids off at day care or school, they want to make sure that they are well taken care of while they are not at home. This includes getting the right nutrition without creating a wasteful mess.
For Glen Mayer and his wife Julie-Anne this was the inspiration to launch Subo back in 2017. “We first thought of the idea back in 2012,” explains the co-founder.
“The inspiration was born out of necessity. We were a young family always on the go trying to feed our homemade foods a toddler and infant. We searched for a product that could help us, but found that most were flawed. So we invented our own!”
Subo is a non-squeeze food bottle, designed to allow young children to feed themselves independently without the mess. Busy parents have turned to food pouches to feed their children on the go―these pouches can create a huge wasteful mess when squeezed.
“With Subo, the food only comes out when the child sips on the soft spout. The moving platform inside the bottle automatically pushes up as the food is being sipped, similar to how a plunger moves through a syringe.”
Having never brought a product to market before, everything seemed to be a challenge at first for Mayer. “After proving our concept with a homemade prototype, the next challenge was to figure out how to manufacture them. We engaged industrial designers to help test and refine our invention, IP lawyers to protect our ideas, and market researchers to ensure we had tick the right boxes with our target market.”
Mayer says they have been fortunate enough to have received funding and support from fantastic grant programs including The Department of Industry Innovation Voucher (Victorian Government), and Commercialisation Australia and Accelerating Commercialisation programmes (Australian Federal Government).
“This past year Subo was featured on Channel 9’s latest season of Shark Tank Australia. Our pitch and presentation was well received by the ‘Sharks’ and was viewed by over 675,000 Australians, giving us a boost in brand and product awareness.
“The Pitch@Palace is a great initiative of The Duke of York HRH Prince Andrew. Subo competed in the Victorian finals at Governor House pitching to an influential crowd including HRH and the Governor. The pitch was well received and we were selected to pitch at the Australian finals at the State Library of Queensland.”
So what does Subo actually mean? “Like many Australian families, we are multicultural. I’m half Canadian half Filipino turned Aussie. One of my earliest memories is my mum feeding me as an infant repeating the word ‘Subo’, which in Filipino means ‘mouthful’ or ‘eat up’.”
Even though Subo launched only in 2017, there has been plenty of interest from distributors around the world. Mayer says that while they are definitely thinking of exporting their products, they are also planning to expand their ranges.
“We’ve got plenty of ideas on accessories to go along with Subo to assist parents with feeding. Also, there are other markets that we believe Subo would work well in―like the aged care market where some patients could benefit from being able to feed themselves independently.”
Subo’s visual merchandising tips:
Tell a story―most parents can relate to a story about a disaster with a food pouch. This technique works very well for us, and so our packaging features a before and after photo of a food pouch vs Subo.
Be specific―our point of differences are highlighted throughout our signage, website and packaging. Our bottle is for food; it’s non-squeeze; creates less mess; is re-useable; perfect for feeding on-the-go and so on.
Use plenty of photos and (where possible) video―our product is like no other, o we have to educate our customers on how it works. The best visual explanation, for us, is a video of the platform moving up through the tube as the food is being consumed. It tends to be the ‘aha moment’ for our customers. They instantly get how the product works and why it is a must have for feeding in the pram or the back of the car.