CertifiKID is an online platform owned by Jamie and Brian Ratner. The couple will be appearing on tonight’s episode of Shark Tank in the hopes that investors will help them expand their business.
CertifiKID was established in 2010, and is described by Biz Journals as “a daily deals platform for kid-friendly activities.” The platform offers discounts on summer camps, birthday parties, vacations, classes and various other forms of entertainment.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. CertifiKID Specializes In Providing Family Entertainment for an Affordable Price
CertifiKID helps parents provide fun experiences for their children on a budget. “From family outings and recreation to kids’ summer camps and classes, to children’s theatre and museums, to birthday party packages and family getaways, CertifiKID connects parents with amazing kids’ activities and family-friendly fun in your community – and nationwide – at prices that won’t break the bank,” the website states.
CertifiKID is currently offered in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles and D.C. There are no monthly fees or memberships required, and the company actually tests the products and visits the places it endorses. “We visit businesses, test products, and take our own families to many of the places featured on our site,” the website affirms.
“We also enlist ‘real moms’ to experience many of these activities first hand so you can see what they are all about before deciding to invest your hard-earned dollars,” they add. “We’re always open to suggestions from our community about what you want to see on our site, so email us anytime.”
2. Jamie Ratner Was a Blogger Prior to Founding CertifiKID With Her Husband Brian
CertifiKID started out as a family blog. Jamie Ratner wanted to provide information about the best deals for family activities in her native D.C., and within months, she had amassed a huge following. She started CertifiKID as an extension of the blog, with husband Brian serving as co-founder and CEO. The couple started with an initial investment of $5,000, and now bring in an estimated $5 million a year in sales.
CertifiKID is a family business through and through. Jamie’s father Gary Payser serves as the company’s chief operating officer. Payser previously spent 36 years as a government employee before taking the position. “I was kind of retired at that point and then my daughter founded CertifiKid,” he told Biz Journals. “They needed assistance, so I said, ‘Sure, I’ll help out’.”
When asked what it’s like to work alongside his daughter, Payser said, “It’s great. We work independently. I work at home and she works at home. We talk by email more than anything, which I am not used to, having retired in the early 2000s before it became more popular to do it that way.” The retiree also said that the key to success is keeping up with the latest technologies. “It’s learning. I’ve had to learn QuickBooks,” he revealed. “I have developed a relationship with a QuickBooks analyst that has helped me along the way to learn things.
3. Jamie & Brian Maintain That CertifiKID Is for the ‘Family Market’
While Jamie and Brian have been tempted to increase their prices, they maintain that their focus on is families. “The few deal sites that remain in the space continually expand their offerings, [but] we remain focused on the family market,” Jamie told Potomac Almanac. “Parents come to our site because they know they are not going to have to wade through an overwhelming number of deals that don’t apply to them to find what they’re looking for.”
“We want CertifiKID to be the go-to resource for parents all over the country looking for affordable activities and entertainment for their kids, no matter where they live,” she added. Brian is equally committed to keeping their focus family-friendly.
“We feel tied to the community,” he said. “We pride ourselves with finding ‘diamonds in the rough’.” Jamie and Brian’s emphasis on family will be evident on their Shark Tank appearance. They will have Jamie’s father with them, as well as their children Noah, 11, and Lila, 10.
4. They Turned Down a Previous Offer to Appear on Shark Tank In 2011
While Jamie and Brian are eager to pitch their business on Shark Tank, this is not the first time they’ve come into contact with the show. In fact, the couple turned down an offer to be on Shark Tank nearly a decade ago. Jamie detailed the encounter in a recent blog post.
“Back in 2011, I was approached by a Shark Tank producer to audition for the show. I talked it through with my husband, Brian (who is also CertifiKID’s President), and we decided it was not the right timing for us,” she wrote. “The company was only about a year old and still evolving and, at that time, ABC took a percentage of every transaction (a policy they subsequently changed). However, over the years, I always kept the idea of going on the show in the back of my mind.”
Jamie went on to explain their reasoning for accepting the show’s second offer. “In May 2018, my mom saw a Shark Tank D.C. audition notice,” she recalled. “I contacted the producers and they told me they would allow us to bypass initial auditions and go straight to the second round. I think Brian was ready to shoot me after he saw all the work that was ahead of us. I found a fantastic videographer to put together our video. Our kids and their best friends helped us shoot it and we were off to the races!”
5. They Want to Arrange a ‘Strategic Partnership’ With a Shark Tank Investor
While CertifiKID continues to thrive, Jamie and Brian are eager to expand the reach of their business in the future. “The safe and comfortable approach for us would be to keep doing what we’re doing,” Brian wrote in a statement. “We don’t need a Shark’s investment to continue to grow and be successful as we’ve built a phenomenal business. However, we recognize that the business is at a point now where a strategic partnership with the right Shark could be the gasoline to our flame and help us reach our potential much more quickly.”
Jamie said that the experiencing of going on Shark Tank was a thrilling one, regardless of the outcome. “From booking travel to memorizing our pitch (Brian and I practiced every moment we could – by ourselves and to each other – our kids were our audience), to getting everything for our set, to what we were going to wear, to preparing and studying for the Q&A with the Sharks,” she said. “We must have watched every possible episode of the show we could squeeze in!”
“Regardless of how this all turns out, this was truly an experience of a lifetime,” she added. “Sharing it with my family made it even better. It was so much work and a roller coaster of emotions but it truly was SO COOL! We also learned so much about our own business goals and dreams as a result of going through this process, met so many awesome entrepreneurs, got a real taste of reality TV, and had so many laughs along the way.”