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By Jamie Ratner, CertifiKID Founder & CEO
Posted May 24, 2020
Posted May 24, 2020
I never thought we would hit this ten-year milestone for CertifiKID. I balked in the early years when my husband Brian talked about the potential longevity of the business. I was thrilled and felt incredibly lucky to make it through one year! So looking back and knowing we made it to our tenth birthday is something I can barely wrap my head around...especially after the past couple of months, which have been the most difficult of our entire journey.
Some of my team suggested it may come off as indulgent or insensitive to celebrate a milestone like this during these difficult times. However, as I sit here writing this, I feel it is important to focus on what we have been able to accomplish in the past decade, and for our CertifiKID team and community to understand the pride we feel about what we have built and the gratitude we have for everyone who helped us get to this point. This reflection gives me confidence that we can persevere through the existing headwinds and emerge stronger than ever.
Looking back through my photos over the years, I am reminded of how many people I have met along this journey, and I am so thankful for these relationships. I have been fortunate to get to know so many incredible people - from business owners (thousands), to employees (over 100!), to customers (hundreds of thousands), to news media. It has been a team and family effort all the way! The photos remind me of so many amazing experiences my own family has had because of the business - from experiences through CertifiKID offers to super unique opportunities like being on television shows. I feel even more blessed to look back and see my family right alongside me throughout this whole journey, supporting me the entire way.
I have no idea what the coming years will bring and how this pandemic will impact us going forward but I am grateful for how far CertifiKID has come, proud of the team that got us here, and blown away by the impact we have had over the past ten years on so many families and businesses. Happy 10th birthday, CertifiKID!
Here are some key memories from the past ten years that really stand out to me.
May 2010 - Before We Launched
This is a picture of the logo from my blog that I had when I started the business back in May 2010 - Little Miss Fun Finds. Boy, did I love that logo and spend time thinking it through! I put my entire heart into that blog. I wrote on it every single day and shared so much of myself and all my great deals and finds. This is where my idea for CertifiKID stemmed and the original readers who supported the businesses - THANK YOU!
This photo was taken in May 2010 before we launched at a Bethesda festival geared to moms. I can still remember how excited I felt to FINALLY have my first business and to have a booth at an event. My entire extended family came to help. I went right up to business owners at the booths and tried to explain CertifiKID and get them to run deals on the site; we tried to get parents to sign up for the site on the spot as well. The concept was somewhat complicated and not everyone understood it right away so it would be awhile before it clicked for many...but we were patient, excited and enjoyed the entire process of building the business from the ground up.
Here are our kids at the festival. Can you believe I started this business with my kids at these young ages? I look back and question how in the world we did it.
This picture is from the weekend before we launched. I spent the most exhausting 36 hours at Sesame Place with my college friend Becca and her family. Then, I came home to find out that our web designer had an issue and needed me to stay up all night typing all the emails into a new format before we could launch our first deal the next day. The following day, Leslie Foster from CBS came to my house to film the launch of the business. The whole scenario is hard to even believe looking back.
May 2011 - One Year in Business
Fast forward to a year later at the same festival in Bethesda. We were still working it and hitting the festivals and getting the word out about CertifiKID. At this point we had expanded beyond Washington, D.C. into Baltimore. I remember thinking every day that tomorrow could be the end of the business and Brian constantly telling me I was nuts.
October 2011 - My First Award
I was blown away to receive my first award - “40 Under 40” by The Washington Business Journal. I was totally flabbergasted at the time, and looking back now, I can’t believe how quickly I was recognized by the Greater Washington, D.C. business community so early in our journey.
Sept 2012 - Two Years in Business With a Growing Team
This photo makes me chuckle. At this point, our team had grown and this is a picture from our 2012 employee family pool party. We had one of our superhero business owners dress up as Spiderman. I ended up fixing up Spiderman with my sister in law (LOL - I will probably get in trouble for including this!).
August 2013 - Three Years in Business
All during this time, my team and I continued to enjoy visiting our business partners and exploring and learning everything there was to do with kids in the city. I remember when the new Boomerang Pirate Ship on the Potomac River set sail and how excited we were to take the kids and how much they enjoyed the experience.
Sept 2013 - Team Portrait Session
This is a series of pictures our favorite photographer Dottie Millwater did for our team and their families back in 2013. I love looking at all of these photos and seeing how much our team’s families have grown over the years and how far we have all come.
February 2014 - Business Event
We decided we wanted to throw a big event geared to local family-focused business owners. It turned into quite an event. We had speakers and amazing giveaways. This was a turning point in the journey where I realized we had truly become leaders in the family space. I also realized how much I like event/party planning!
2015 - Washington Post Article
I have had many articles written about me over the years, but this 2015 article Washington Post article written by Thomas Heath was really impactful. He had done another feature story on me back in 2012, This Momprenuer Runs a Daily Deal Site for families, and did this follow-up article in 2015, Maryland Mom Turns Parenting Into a $5 million daily-deal business. As crazy as this sounds, I think this was the point where people started to realize CertifiKID was more than a side gig for me. Up to this point, when Brian and I were at a party, people would talk to him about his work and ask me how my “thing” was going. This article was a turning point in the way people viewed the business. I was legitimized and people rarely asked Brian about his job - it was all about CertifiKID from here on out!
We were also still experiencing lots of fun things with our kids like this amazing memory from places The Turkey Hill Experience.
July 2016 - My Dad Wins CFO of the Year
This was the highlight of 2016 for sure. My father, who is our CFO, won the award from The Washington Business Journal for CFO of the Year. Brian, my sister, parents, and I all got dressed up and went to an event to honor him. It was super special because my dad had never been recognized with an award in his previous work and he has selflessly and exceptionally done so much over this decade to take CertifiKID to the place we are now. It was incredibly special to honor him!
2017 - Celebrating Seven Years in Business
We had a family bowling party this year. It was so cool to see how much larger our team had grown and all the kids had grown up!
Ironically, 2017 was the top year the business ever had, which also was the year I turned 40!
April 2018 - Launch of Camp Scholarship Program
In 2018, we launched our Camp Scholarship program. Over the past two years, we have sent more than 60 kids in our local community to summer camp. This photo was taken at an event we hosted for our inaugural class of camp scholarship recipients.
September 2018 - Filming Shark Tank
This year the excitement really built up with us going out to LA to film our Shark Tank episode. We had to keep this a secret from people for many months, but it was an experience like no other. This image shows the morning we were heading to the Sony studios to film - Brian and I, my parents, our kids, and our COO Amie and her daughter Macy. You can truly see the excitement and anticipation on our faces for what was about to happen!
April 2019 - Shark Tank/The View
This week deserved a few photos because it was truly the highlight of my life. These photos are from our Shark Tank viewing party, and then a couple days later, our appearance on The View. I was on an all-time high that week.
April 2020 - Coronavirus
This photo from one of our Zoom team meetings symbolizes what life has looked like the past couple months for the business.
Happy 10th birthday, CertifiKID! We will get through this tough time....TOGETHER.
CertifiKID was founded by a mom with a passion for helping parents provide the best experiences for their children on a budget. From outings to adventures, classes to camps, theater to sporting events, amusement parks to getaways, CertifiKID provides the best family-friendly experiences at unbeatable prices. Sign up for family-friendly deals in your area and start saving!