Bringing Up the "Little One"

It's a varied day for a Babson grad at his startup company, P'kolino, which is developing children's play products

I'm the co-founder of P'kolino (pronounced: pee-ko-lee-no). In Italian, piccolino means "little one" and is often used to refer to a child. We changed the spelling and added graphic elements to the logo to make it our own. In August, we moved from our office in the Babson Business Development Hatchery to our new headquarters in Woburn, Mass., near Boston.

P'kolino is committed to improving play at home by developing and marketing innovative play products that are functional and stylish for both child and parent. We're currently manufacturing our first products for children ranging from 1- to 7-years-old and will be in the market before year's end.


  I started P'kolino with Antonio Turco-Rivas, a Babson classmate. We were both looking for a better life for our families. We wanted work we felt passionate about. We also wanted to build a tangible brand. Perhaps it's a reaction to our technology backgrounds, but we really had a desire to make something we could touch. Finally, we wanted to involve our families and show our children that work can be fun.

I primarily focus on product development and marketing. My work day doesn't have a defined start and finish. When you run your own business, it's always with you. Some say this is a negative, but I don't. For the most part, I have control over my schedule, and I truly like what I do, so bringing it home (or bringing home to work) can be enjoyable.

Here's the timeline of a typical work day:

6:00 a.m. -- No need for an alarm clock when you have a 1-year-old.

7:00 a.m. -- I quickly check my e-mail and scan the paper while the children play.

7:45 a.m. -- Out the door to drop off two of the children at pre-school.

8:15 a.m. -- Hit the highway to the new office.

8:40 a.m. -- Arrive at the office with just enough time to write down mental notes I'd made during my drive and check my e-mail again before the first meeting of the day. A foam-fabricator sales rep and engineer are coming soon.

9:00 a.m. -- No foam people yet, so I quickly respond to the Rhode Island School of Design query about the photos of the products its students designed for P'kolino and the brochure documenting the design process.

9:15 a.m. -- Foam fabricators arrive. I tell them about our products and what we need done. I listen as they tell me what they can do and the ideas they have for alternative solutions.

9:45 a.m. -- "Antonio, got a minute? What do you think about this? They say they can use a more rigid foam to make this piece easier to assemble." We like the idea and confirm the direction we want them to take. We should have an estimate in a week if I can get them the revised specifications by the end of the day.

10:00 a.m. -- I review the legal documents sent the night before for our first financing round. This is where the MBA pays off. Suddenly, convertible debt, discount rates, and more and more financial and legal jargon makes sense. There are a few issues to discuss. Antonio and I agree on the changes, and we send the revisions to our law firm.

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