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Episode Three: Babypalooza

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Babypalooza got its start as a magazine that founder Cecilia Pearson managed as a creative outlet. Fast forward to 2020, Babypalooza is a growing company and community platform that thrives through large in-person events, now faced with navigating a global pandemic.

In this episode of The Wrap, our hosts welcome Cecilia to talk about how her company grew from a hobby to a business to an organization that’s withstanding the challenges of COVID-19. Drew Honeycutt, the CEO of Innovation Depot—an incubation center for Cecilia and other entrepreneurs like her who are looking to accelerate company growth—and Warren Averett’s own business advisor Hanny Akl, also weigh in on how Babypalooza’s experience reflects that of other companies who are seeking to adapt in today’s environment.

“Be creative. Be flexible and nimble. Be strategic, and be steadfast. Stakeholders in your business—whether it’s investors, employees, customers or vendors—are going to expect that from you and need that from you.  And, it’s easy to say, very hard to do.”

The Wrap Season 4 Episode 4, Innovation Depot, Babypalooza:

Guests: Cecilia Pearson, Drew Honeycutt & Hanny Akl

Hosts: Kim Hartsock & Paul Perry

Company Overview:

Innovation Depot is the largest tech startup program in the Southeast, they work everyday to provide unmatched amenities like an onsite game room, gym, rooftop patio, restaurant, and the fastest internet in Birmingham.  With Innovation Depot, you’ll work and learn alongside peers building great startups, with access to all the awesome programs, mentors, and resources Innovation Depot offers.

Babypalooza is a Birmingham company founded by Cecilia Pearson that is a parenting platform where live events intersect with technology to make it easy for new, expectant and hopeful parents to access the products, people and parenting information they need most.

Cecilia Pearson:

Cecilia Pearson has been an entrepreneur and innovator for most of her life. The founder and CEO of Babypalooza — a multi-channel platform that creates and nurtures community for new, expectant and hopeful moms — began to see herself that way.

“I had my first lemonade stand when I was nine years old,” Pearson recalls. “But I didn’t just have a stand. It was a lemonade franchise, with me organizing kickball games so I could sell more lemonade and recruiting other kids to work the stands. Before that, it was a backyard circus. I was born to be an event girl and an entrepreneur.”

A native of Birmingham, Pearson earned college degrees at two Alabama institutions, with a B.S. in marketing from Jacksonville State University followed by a Master’s in counseling from the University of Montevallo. She worked in marketing, publishing and event management, and in 2005, decided to start a magazine devoted to new and expectant parents.

“It was a side hustle,” Pearson laughs. “I didn’t start with the intention of growing a business. I just wanted parents to have a glossy newsstand magazine that connected them to the resources they needed. I didn’t quit my job to do it, because I really saw it at that time as more of a creative outlet.”

Drew Honeycutt (CEO):

Drew is the CEO of Innovation Depot, a role he began after years of working as an entrepreneur in Birmingham. Prior to his role as CEO, Drew was the co-founder of two startups located in Innovation Depot, Planet Fundraiser, and most recently, Funnelfly. He also co-founded Noble Eagle Services, a full-service Industrial, Mechanical, and Commercial insulation contractor.

A native of Birmingham, Drew has a deep knowledge of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and years of experience in the local startup market. As CEO, Drew is excited to work alongside the incredible entrepreneurs of our region and to help them incubate and accelerate their businesses from concept to scale.

Innovation Depot is the largest startup incubator in the Southeast and has more than 100 early-stage technology, biotech, life sciences, and engineering companies. Innovation Depot has had a $2.65 billion impact over the past five years.

Drew has a Masters Degree in Business Administration and a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from the University of Alabama and is the proud father of three daughters.

Hanny Akl:

Hanny Akl leads the Firm’s Transaction Advisory Services practice, which focuses both on buy-side and sell-side transactions along with advising owners on creating value within their businesses. He is an active member (and former learning coordinator) of the Firm’s Technology and Life Sciences Client Service Group where he is the Firm’s expert on software revenue recognition and other technical topics. Hanny supports clients in all phases of their business and transaction life cycles. He works with a wide variety of clients, including private equity, closely held and public companies. His industry experience is focused on software and technology-enabled companies, telecommunications, retail and distribution businesses, and real estate.

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