How Bubs Australia founder Kristy Carr went from drawing on a napkin to being celebrated by President Biden

Bubs Australia Kristy Carr

CEO and Founder of Bubs Australia Kristy Carr. Photograph by Chris Hopkins.

US President Joe Biden tweeted about an Australian business last week, noting how it’s helping to fill a desperate supply issue for baby formula across America.

The business he mentioned was Bubs Australia. And while he didn’t get the brand’s Twitter handle in the tweet, he certainly got the name out there.

Bubs is an infant formula supplier with a now market valuation of almost $400 million, founded and run by Sydney-based Kristy Carr.

She carries the classic idea story of a founder: she experienced a problem firsthand and sought to solve it.

In Carr’s case, the problem was the poor food quality on offer in supermarkets that she noticed after having a baby in 2005, recalling how she could only find “what looked like odourless, tasteless, glue in a jar.” Speaking with the Australian Financial Review in 2021, Carr also described her horror at only recognising three or four of the ingredients in the baby food products available.

Carr founded the business with her sister Lisa as well as Anthony Gualdi, the founder of Shakespeare Pies. Together they invested $50,000 in launching the business.

She drew the first sketch of the Bubs logo on a napkin while sitting on her lounge room floor in 2005. As she told the AFR, she thought it could be a “billion-dollar idea” — but now has much larger aspirational targets.

Carr had worked in advertising and communications prior to having the first of her three children, initially as a media buyer and later with McCann Erickson in Hong Kong and then Cathay Pacific as the airline’s head of communications.

Back in 2016, she was featured on 60 Minutes and described as a “mumpreneur” — the business was already worth $21 million at that point and was manufacturing organic baby formula from Victoria, and supplying it to the Chinese market.

Bubs listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in 2017, seeing Carr become one of the very few women in Australia to found and lead a company to list. The share price has jumped significantly since 2017, despite hitting a major speed bump during the pandemic, given how sales relied on a strong network of Chinese consumers, including international students and tourists who cross the closed Australian borders.

However, a major deal with retail giant Walmart in the United States in 2021 helped to fill much of the gap.

On launching into the US last year, Carr said that “we have big hopes for America”.

It’s unlikely she could have ever imagined that would involve a US president tweeting about the product.

This article was first published by Women’s Agenda.

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