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CertifiKID: As Seen On Shark TankTM
We know our deals are JAWsome, but what do the Sharks think?
CertifiKID is a family-focused deal website that helps parents provide incredible experiences for their kids on a budget. Much more than a typical “deal site”, CertifiKID is a resource, allowing parents to find the coolest things to do and places to go with their kids while saving money at the same time.
CertifiKID Founders, Jamie and Brian Ratner, ventured into ABC’s Shark Tank seeking a strategic partner with the expertise to help them extend this extraordinary resource to even more parents nationwide. They did their research and studied the Sharks’ backgrounds to determine who would be the perfect partner, but what ultimately happened in ‘The Tank’? Read on to find out!
We're Feeling 'Wonderful'!
On Sunday, April 7, 2019, our Shark Tank episode finally aired. After months of keeping our big secret, we are thrilled to announce we closed a deal with Kevin O'Leary (aka Mr. Wonderful)!
Having the O'Leary team join the CertifiKID family is going to open so many doors and create so many opportunities for CertifiKID to be the go-to resource for family fun and experiences across the country. It already has. His listeners and audience are ours. His mindset is in perfect tune with ours. The sky is the limit and we are truly feeling "wonderful"!
Did you miss the episode? Read on to find out how it all went down!
We went into the Tank asking for $600K in exchange for an 8% stake in our business. Three Sharks made us an offer, Kevin O'Leary, Barbara Corcoran and Daymond John. We were disappointed but not surprised that all three initial offers were for more than twice the equity we were offering. Though we felt we were unique compared to typical entrepreneurs that go on the show in terms of our maturity as a business and our profitability and sales/revenue numbers, we knew going in that the Sharks always want a premium especially given we were asking for a substantial investment relative to what is typically requested on the show.
We did extensive research on all of the Sharks prior to the show and, while we saw the benefits that each could provide, Kevin was clearly one that we were targeting. A few things stood out about “Mr. Wonderful” that we felt made him a great match as a business partner: (1) he loves businesses that make money and are conservative with expenses; (2) he is all about teaching kids and parents how to save money; (3) he loves female-led businesses; and (4) he has investments in several companies that intersect with our core market - the mom and family space.
Of the three offers, Barbara asked for the most equity and wanted to change our business to a franchise model, which wasn't of interest. Daymond asked for the least amount of equity, but it wasn't clear how he thought he could help us. Meanwhile, we felt Kevin 'got it' right away, so now our task was to get him down from his 20% equity ask which also included a complex condition.
The negotiation was intense! If you've watched the show historically, you know Kevin doesn't move off of his initial offers very often. However, Brian is a lawyer and does a lot of negotiating, so he was in his comfort zone. He tested fighting a bit to see how it would be received. When it seemed like Kevin, in particular, was embracing it (at one point proclaiming, “I'm loving you!”), Brian felt invited to push a bit further.
Although a 19% stake in CertifiKID was a bit more than we intended to give up, getting Kevin to come down at all from his initial ask (and drop the liquidation preference he had thrown into the mix) was a victory. We knew we were out of rope and it was time to accept.
How We Got Here
Jamie and Brian founded CertifiKID in 2010 after years of Jamie writing a popular Washington, D.C.-area blog geared to moms looking for fun, affordable things to do with their kids. A lifelong bargain hunter and lover of a good deal, Jamie recognized a void in the market for a website with deals geared specifically to kids and families – hence CertifiKID was born.
Why Shark Tank?
CertifiKID took off right away and has grown year after year ever since. A household name in its Greater Washington, D.C. – Baltimore-area home base, and now in multiple cities across the country, Jamie and Brian recognized that achieving their vision of making CertifiKID available to parents nationwide would benefit greatly from the expertise of a Shark – and now was the time.
Our Shark Tank Taping Experience – A Family Affair
Just like everything around here, our Shark Tank debut was all about FAMILY and FUN. We literally brought family along for the ride . . . and what a ride it was!
It was a fast and wild ride that was at times totally exhilarating, exciting, and nerve wracking all at the same time, and that definitely had our hearts racing!
“I have never felt so nervous in my life (even on my wedding day!). I could not remember my pitch. I could barely talk without my teeth chattering. I remember the kids telling me I would do well, the producers telling me to breathe, and squeezing Brian’s hand so hard.”
“I really wanted them to get Mark or Mr. Wonderful. I wanted them to get those two because they have the most money and Mr. Wonderful is really funny.”
“Before we left for the trip, I remember sitting on the couch watching Shark Tank a lot with my parents. It got annoying after a while. My mom seemed really obsessed!”
“Last May, while watching television, my attention was drawn to a commercial encouraging people to try out for Shark Tank. I immediately contacted my daughter, Jamie . . . Little did I know back then how that commercial was going to impact all of our lives!”