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FLORIDA ROAD TRIP BEGETS THE REAL THING

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by Naomi Serviss

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The birth of Baby Road Trip, a new edutainment video series that (so far) extols the wonders of beach and jungle destinations, was not easy. But it continues to be a creative challenge with which husband-and-wife co-founders Laura and Shawn Kronen are thrilled. The concept behind Baby Road Trip was born during a real road trip to Florida, says Laura, 34. “It all started last year after my son was born. He developed colic when he was three weeks old and it was a nightmare,” she says of the now 15-month-old Jesse. The new parents, both with demanding careers, spent endless sleepless nights trying to console their son. Laura, a marketing and public relations professional on maternity leave, and interior designer Shawn, were at their wits’ end. “We were going stir crazy; it was winter and freezing outside,” the Murray Hill resident recalls. Her husband had a last-ditch idea that set the wheels in motion for the now-successful video series. He said to her, “Why don’t we drive down to Florida before you go back to work?” Friends thought the couple was unhinged to even consider spending so much time in a car with a colicky infant. “It turned out it was the best thing we ever did,” Laura says. Jesse slept for 21 hours straight. It was the first time his parents had had a conversation without interruption since Jesse’s birth. What parent can’t relate to that? That precious sleep time enabled the two to brainstorm ideas for a lucrative and personal business project. The duo realized that children would have more fun reaching a destination if they experienced it virtually before leaving the house, Laura says. Baby Road Trip videos are musically themed journeys to different destinations. The business side of the video development came together through a series of serendipitous circumstances, months of research, and due diligence, she adds. The website (www.babyroadtrip.com) describes the mission of the series to “…educate, stimulate, motivate and enlighten babies and children with entertaining and enriching images of travel, scenery and culture combined with exposure to different types of music appropriate for each locale.” What makes this fledgling series stand out from the pack? “Many of the other videos use classical music throughout their stories,” Laura says. “We decided to have music that is appropriate for the two videos.” The beach video (a clip of both may be viewed on the site) has nature sounds and soothing water-related music. The jungle video enlists reggae and calypso sounds. “We don’t consider the tapes as babysitters,” she stresses. The concept of the series, Laura explains, is to offer an alternative to what’s currently on the market. The video clips show vibrant, colorful puppets, happy babies and bubble blowing, among other eye-candy scenes. Simple words are shown on the bottom of the screen. And what of the financial challenges of starting a new business? “There were many challenges when we began,” Laura reflects. “We funded these ourselves and just finished the third one (about the circus). We’ll be looking for backing after this one.” “It’s very hard,” she adds, “but I’m determined to get this off the ground. I’ve always been a business person and I’m beyond excited about this project.” In fact, the couple’s efforts have already made their mark on the video world. In March, the first two titles in their series, Baby Road Trip BEACH and Baby Road Trip JUNGLE, won the prestigious Telly Award, which honors local, regional, and cable TV commercials and programs, as well as video and film productions. Any advice to other parents who have similar entrepreneurial dreams? “The first thing I did was to look at what was already out there. Research the industry and network like crazy,” Laura says. Throughout all her years of marketing, she notes, she never asked for a favor. “Then I called them all in at once. Everyone has ideas and I’m thrilled when my friends tell me that I’ve inspired them.” It helps to have a strong network of family and friends, too. The former Long Islander has a philanthropic side to her nature as well. Laura developed Type I diabetes at age 23. That explains why a healthy portion of their proceeds goes directly to the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.

 


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