Mother and son entrepreneurial duo Fran and Joe Maier stepped into the Shark Tank to share their company, BabyQuip, with the sharks and try to get one of them to invest in the baby gear service.
The episode of Shark Tank originally aired on Friday, March 6, 2020. The Sharks in the tank were Robert Herjavec, Lori Greiner, Kevin O’Leary, Mark Cuban and guest shark Katrina Lake.
BabyQuip offers a way to rent baby equipment throughout U.S. and Canada and aims to improve the way families travel. The service is marketed toward traveling parents and also grandparents who may be having their grandchildren come visit them. The products rented include cribs, strollers, car seats, toys, books and more.
“From the very beginning, we knew that getting exposure on Shark Tank would be wonderful for telling people not only about BabyQuip, but also about the baby gear rental category,” Fran Maier told Heavy.
Here’s what you should know about BabyQuip:
1. It Was Founded by a Mother and Son Duo
BabyQuip was started by Fran Maier alongside her son Joe Maier. They wanted to create a way to make it easier for families to travel, which is how the idea for BabyQuip came around.
Fran was an AirBnB super host at the time, and she started noticing that the way people travel, especially when it came to millenials, is different than it used to be. They needed a way to be able to rent the baby equipment they might need while traveling or hosting family.
They saw that there was no real national brand to rent the equipment from, though there were some regional players and mom and pop shops in tourist destinations.
Joe is now the Chief Technology Officer at BabyQuip, and Fran is the CEO.
2. They Aim to Create a Community of Entrepreneurs
In the current gig-economy landscape, many people are looking for ways to make money based on things they can do on their own time out of their own homes. While most of the gear providers are mothers, the gear they rent out is not just things that they have at home from their children outgrowing it.
Most providers, we’re told, have multiple strollers, cribs, car seats and cribs. They work to build a business on the BabyQuip platform, and they do more than just rent out leftover gear they may own. Instead, they may buy extra gear to rent out with BabyQuip.
“We’re enabling them to become entrepreneurs and build a business,” Fran said.
3. CEO Fran Maier Was Also a Founder of Match.com
Unlike some other Shark Tank entrepreneurs, this is not the first time Fran worked to build a business from the ground up. Fran co-founded Match.com in 1995, and the experience helped her when starting BabyQuip.
“I was a co-founder of Match.com 25 years ago,” she said. “I think that experience made it easy for me to see that this could be big.”
At the time, dating websites didn’t really exist, and the team worked to build a category in the space, which gave Fran useful experience when starting BabyQuip.
“Our thing is, we’re also building a category just like I did with Match.com… It’s exciting to build a category, and that’s why Shark Tank is really going to help us.”
4. BabyQuip Products are Insured
One thing people may be worried about when renting gear from providers is the idea of using things that others have used before. Parents worry about whether the equipment is safe and clean.
“One of the ways we’ve differentiated ourselves is having clean, quality, safe gear that’s insured,” Fran said. “And with this coronavirus thing going around, we’re emphasizing the training of our providers on how to clean gear, check that it’s safe and check the recall list. I think that’s why we’re winning.”
She said the providers work hard to ensure that everything is clean and safe before renting it out. Fran said that the providers love working in the business and share a passion for it.
“Our community of quality providers, these are the independent contractors who own and deliver the gear, and they are equally passionate, and we’re passionate that they’re making some good money doing that,” she said.
5. BabyQuip is Available in Over 500 Destinations
According to the company website, the BabyQuip service is available in over 500 destinations in the U.S. and Canada. They have completed over 30,000 reservations and have had 62 percent of parents say that renting from BabyQuip saved their vacation.
They have over 600 quality providers and a 98 percent five-star review rating. To rent gear, a customer has to go to the BabyQuip website, enter their destination, select a provider and gear, and then confirm the dates and locations. Then, the provider will contact them in order to arrange the delivery.
Tune in to Shark Tank to see if the company is able to get a deal from one of the Sharks. Shark Tank airs at 8 p.m. ET on Fridays on ABC.