Whirli is UK based online toy library (a ‘Netflix for Toys’).
A Whirli subscription gives parents and their little one(s) access to a huge shareable toy box for a fixed monthly price. Parents pick the toys they want, we deliver them, and they simply send them back when they are done in exchange for something else. It’s easy-peasy, gives parents more for their money, reduces living room clutter, and is environmentally friendly.
How did you come up with the idea for the company?
I am surprisingly not a parent myself (not yet anyway!) but had a phase where loads of my friends were becoming parents for the first time. For my friends, the frustration with purchasing toys and baby goods that were only needed for a short while was quite universal. They were frustrated at how much money they felt they were wasting, how much these toys cluttered their homes, the inconvenience of trying to re-sell, or even the eco-guilt of throwing stuff away.
From this, I thought a sharing economy concept where parents can borrow toys – like Whirli today – would be a no-brainer. It was surprising that there wasn’t a professional, trustworthy, service operating back then and so I went out to create one!
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How has the company evolved during the pandemic?
Even pre-pandemic, we’ve always been very conscious of cleanliness and hygiene, and we have a strict QA process so that every subscriber only receives high quality toys in good condition. During the height of the pandemic, we beefed up some of these processes but ultimately these were small incremental improvements to an already robust process. It was a real strength for us that we already had a process for cleaning/sterilising – so operating during the pandemic was not much different at all.
Parents turned to Whirli for a cost-effective and eco-friendly way to entertain and educate their children during the lockdown. In this period we saw a lot of new subscribers join our service, and at the same time took a lot of steps to ensure our staff’s wellbeing. It was not always easy, but we have a wonderful team and we’re really proud to have provided our service to thousands of families throughout the pandemic.
What can we hope to see from Whirli in the future?
We have very bold ambitions and aim to continue growing our Whirli community whilst providing an ever-improving service and range of products. I can share that “learning through play” continues to be a vital theme for us and customers should expect more toys and tools to help them and their children get the most out of playtime across the classic skills (sensory, motor, creativity, STEM etc) and also aspects of modern at-home education (empathy, adjusting to change, etc.)
We are also going to start small-scale trials to make it even more convenient and easy for families to swap what they’ve borrowed. These door-step swaps will also help reduce our carbon footprint by reducing the number of vehicle trips, and at the same time we are exploring making our deliveries fully electric and powered by renewable sources of energy.