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Posted on Wed, Jul 28, 2010 : 6 a.m.

'Netflix for baby clothes'? University of Michigan student entrepreneur earns national recognition

By Nathan Bomey

University of Michigan senior Allen Kim calls it the "Netflix of baby clothes."

Now the industrial operations engineering major is getting national attention for his business,, which helps parents rent baby clothes, similar to how Netflix allows movie enthusiasts to rent DVDs through the mail for a monthly fee. 

Kim, an Ann Arbor Huron High School graduate, this week was named as one of five finalists for Entrepreneur Magazine's 2010 College Entrepreneur of the Year award.

Kim, an active member of the MPowered Entrepreneurship group, created the online clothing rental service to give moms and dads an affordable option to the expensive cycle of babies growing out of their clothes. From 0 to 3 years old, a typical baby needs 16 sets of clothes, costing $150 each, he estimates.

Allen Kim of Bebaroo.jpg

University of Michigan senior Allen Kim is a finalist for Entrepreneur Magazine's College Entrepreneur of the Year award.

Photo courtesy of

"There’s a huge inefficiency in baby clothes and parents spending so much money on baby clothes and simply going to waste," Kim said. "And I thought, there has to be a more sustainable, efficient way for parents to clothe their kids."

Kim, along with co-founder Luis Calderon, who will receive a master's degree this December from U-M's Erb Institute, launched the pilot site in March. 

Votes from the public, which can be cast here through mid-September, help decide the winner, who will receive a $5,000 prize as an investment for their company.

Through Bebaroo, parents pay a monthly fee that gives them access to a catalog of clothes, mostly for special occasions. At any time parents can mail them back for free using a box provided by the company and ask for new sets of clothes in return.

Right now parents have to request an invitation to use the site, but Kim and Calderon plan to open it up to the public in December. At that point, the site would need capital to establish an inventory system, which can be costly.

Kim said angel investors and venture capitalists have expressed serious interest in funding the site.

"Right now we’re in a stage where we want to prove out that the market exists," he said., which already has 20 paying customers, purchases new baby clothes at wholesale. The entrepreneurs said they're currently seeking to hire a "chief mom," preferably with expertise in merchandising, to handle clothes acquisition for the site. They said the site would use new clothes and gently used clothes that have been cleaned.

"We'll start shipping clothes this week or next," Calderon said.

The entrepreneurs said they've talked to hundreds of moms, day care centers and others to collect input on how to tailor the service. The site plans to focus mostly on baby clothes for special occasions.

"Parents have been telling us that those special occasion clothes are actually the biggest painpoint," Kim said. "They almost never use it, but they actually have to buy it because of those special occasions."

The nomination marks the latest recognition of the momentum for U-M's student entrepreneurial movement, which includes a business incubator for student-led companies, the 1,000 Pitches competition and dozens of courses that include entrepreneurial education. is currently headquartered in U-M's TechArb incubator down the hall from Google in the McKinley Towne Centre building in downtown Ann Arbor.

U-M's efforts to boost the companies formed by its students recently attracted the attention of the federal government. U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke earlier this month said the TechArb incubator is a program that could be replicated throughout the country.

“We’re going to see an increase in startup company activity and success stories like Allen’s company," said Doug Neal, director of U-M's Center for Entrepreneurship, which helped form the TechArb. "But you’re also going to see U-M recognized as an entrepreneurial leader."

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.



Fri, Jul 30, 2010 : 10:47 a.m.

Sorry, but this is a dumb idea...I don't know any parents or grand parents that would put thier precious baby's hiney in a used pair of anything. $150 or not. Good luck with this and I hope your $5K hires someone out of work...who would be going to the 2nd hand store.


Thu, Jul 29, 2010 : 12:17 p.m.

Thanks for the support as well as the feedback. @DDOT1962 - I think you hit the nail on the head regarding the value proposition. Parents will still get some clothes from family, friends, and from purchases. Bebaroo simply supplements the baby's wardrobe for those special occasions where you want your baby to look extra cute. Our primary focus is on "Easy Parenting" - our customers will get stylish special occasion wear and don't have to go yard sales or thrift stores (Salvation Army, Once Upon a Child, Children's Orchard). We do the shopping and the swapping so you don't have to worry about it. We focus heavily on cleaning and sanitizing the products so that parents get fresh clean clothes every time. We also understand that this is a messy business and we'll make sure that we remove all stains, or discard damaged clothes, before they are sent out. We certainly welcome any further feedback or questions. Stop by our website (htt:// or email us at


Thu, Jul 29, 2010 : 7:19 a.m.

Do the clothes come pre-stained, because I can't remember my infants/toddlers wearing their clothes for more than an hour without leaving their mark, so to say....?

Long Time No See

Wed, Jul 28, 2010 : 10:41 p.m.

@bunnyabbot "You can get high end baby clothes at resale shops, ebay etc and resell when you are done with them." I think you're missing the point. What their business seems to do is make exactly that kind of process more efficient. Instead of hunting around at resale shops, ebay, etc., you just sign up for this service and get better efficiency for essentially the same process.

Nathan Bomey

Wed, Jul 28, 2010 : 3:10 p.m.

Chicago Parent writes about the company:,-new-web-business-aimed-at-parents

Nathan Bomey

Wed, Jul 28, 2010 : 2:51 p.m.

@bunnyabot, Just to be clear, the $150 figure encompasses an entire set of baby clothes, which typically last about 2 months until the baby outgrows them, according to the company. It's not just one outfit.


Wed, Jul 28, 2010 : 2:47 p.m.

anyone who is spending $150 on an outfit for their kid is crazy, even for "holiday" clothes. You can get high end baby clothes at resale shops, ebay etc and resell when you are done with them. I also think those sites that you "borrow" a designer handbag are silly as well. What a terrific waste of money.

Dug Song

Wed, Jul 28, 2010 : 2:35 p.m.

I wish they could do other baby gear also, but flat-pack, easily-sterilized baby clothes will probably be a lot easier for everyone involved. :-) They first presented at our Ann Arbor New Tech Meetup, and launched their private beta at our last event: - hope to see more folks locally take an interest in our emerging tech startup scene!

Angela Smith

Wed, Jul 28, 2010 : 12:46 p.m.

Love this, and wish it were around a few years ago! I hope they branck into baby gear like bouncers and bumbos and swings that feel so necessary for a few months and obsolete right after!


Wed, Jul 28, 2010 : 11:55 a.m.

This is such a good idea even better if you just made it mostly about holidays, it would be great if you could have costumes put on as well those are only warn once maybe twice and tossed out or put up somewhere, swim suites would be good too.


Wed, Jul 28, 2010 : 9:51 a.m.

Cool idea as long as the clothes are sterilized - nothing like e.coli x 1000 on your little sproutling.