We interviewed Melissa Gersin, the maternity nurse who started the company, who said that so far she’s sold 2,000 units. She single-handedly built the first prototypes by cutting apart vibrating household objects, researching motors and foam and Googling soldering and circuitry. And after her friends let her test out the mat on their crying babies, she took her product to the next level.
As of now, the mats can be found on their website, Amazon and small baby boutiques, but her future plans are to debut them in retailers like Babies R’Us and Buy Buy Baby.
Here’s what else she told us about…
How the Idea Came About
During the first year of my career, I completed a training to become an “Infant Crying Specialist” which was based on Dr. Harvey Karp’s 5 S’s to calm babies by recreating their experience in the womb. Swaddling is one of his techniques that’s quite commonly known but isn’t always effective on its own. Since babies are suspended in amniotic fluid, babies are gently jostled with every move Mommy makes, referred to as “Swaying” by Karp. Mom’s heartbeat floods babies ears, nearly as loud as a vacuum cleaner (80-90 decibels) so babies really enjoy loud “Shh-ing.” Sucking and Side/Stomach Lying round out the 5 S’s. But in my practice we already used swaddling and sucking (pacifiers) but it didn’t always work. It wasn’t until I added the constant motion and loud white sounds that I started to notice a nearly 100 percent soothing rate. It was crazy! I started sharing these techniques with parenta because I had seen how well they worked. Unfortunately, I quickly realized how difficult they were to consistently and effectively execute for already exhausted and overwhelmed new parents. Then one night while trying to soothe three different babies in the nursery – one with each hand and the other by rocking their bassinet with my foot all while “Shh-ing” at max volume – I had a lightning bolt type moment and the idea for the Tranquilo Mat was born.
How It Works
Gentle vibrations and soft sounds give babies the security they miss with a simple on/off switch. Battery operated and with five different settings, including two heartbeat settings, the product is extremely versatile and portable. The small size is best for small spaces like car seats (over the straps), baby carriers and even in a parents’ embrace. The larger size works for bassinets, cribs, activity mats and any other larger space where babies like to hang out (and cry). So unlike bulky vibrating chairs or swings, Tranquilo Mat can be easily rolled up and placed in a diaper bag to go wherever baby goes – on a plane, to grandma’s house, a park…The interior electronics are encased in a waterproof fabric and it comes with a washable cotton cover and convenient carry bag.
Her ‘Tank’ Experience
I received an email the last week in July from someone at Shark Tank who found my product and my story interesting and asked if I was interested in applying for Season 8, which was wrapping up filming soon. After a short phone call, I decided to start the application process and by early September, I was being flown out to LA for filming…I surprisingly wasn’t too nervous, probably because I thought the Sharks were so nice! The minute the doors opened and I walked down the hallway into the Tank, I was focused and prepared for my pitch. As things got going, I realized they were so easy to talk to and although there was some yelling, I’m used to that as a nurse with doctors barking orders during stressful medical emergencies. Honestly, I had a great experience. Just being able to pitch the product and my business on such a stage to the ‘toughest’ and most well-known investors in the country was such an honor.
How the Team Formed
Annie Hall joined the team over a year ago when I was looking for an assistant to help me juggle the innumerable tasks that go with creating a product and running a business. She was overqualified to be simply an assistant and I quickly saw her talents compliment my own, deciding to bring her on with equity. Ashley Robinson joined the team this past spring as a co-founder for her experience as COO and Marketing Director for a digital app company in the baby space. She was one of my mentors at the MassChallenge startup accelerator were participated in the summer of 2016. Working with Ashley as a mentor it became clear her business acumen and talents were the perfect fit to round out the team.
Experience With Indiegogo
My experience on Indiegogo was a bit of a disappointment because we didn’t meet our $50K goal but looking back on it, it’s obvious why. Our product is too niche to do well on a crowdfunding platform. Most of our customers are parents who have a crying baby now and waiting a few days for a product can seem like an eternity. So to expect them to buy our product on a crowdfund campaign and wait a few months for the product to be manufactured and shipped? It just wasn’t realistic.
Other Tank products for kids: