Adding another product to my list of things I wish I had when my kids were little today — all thanks to our guest, Beth Fynbo! Beth is the founder of Busy Baby Mat, which helps make life a little easier for Busy Parents everywhere! Beth starts off telling me about her childhood and seeing her dad run his own business, and how she knew at a young age she wanted to do something on her own as well. She then went on to serve 10 years in the Army and when she found herself back into a ‘normal’ routine, she could not get comfortable in the corporate world. After having her first child, she had a big wake up call — she didn’t want someone else experiencing his ‘firsts’! It took a hectic dinner with fellow mom friends to give her the aha moment! She realized that kids are CONSTANTLY throwing things on the floor and forcing their parents to pick them up.
She came up with the idea to create a mat to keep them occupied after she found it did not exists! Since Beth did not come from the toy industry, she really jumped in and took things piece by piece, slowly working towards the next step and asking ‘what should i do to get to the next phase’. I found this so refreshing as it can be SO overwhelming to see your end goal and all the space in between you and that spot! She then tells me about her current day to day, how life has changed as her business has grown and how her family plays a role in all of this! She then tells me how her brother is not a part of the company and how that came to be. Finally we chat about her Shark Tank experience, and the insane way that things happened!
Beth is such an easy person to talk to and it was so fun learning from her experiences. Make sure to check out her Busy Baby Mats as well as their other products, and head to her Instagram to follow along!
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Dana: Are you dying at the thought of missing a single one of your babies first would have no idea how you give up the security that your nine to five job brings. My name is Dana Graham and I had no clue how to escape that vicious 40 Hour Workweek cycle either until I did, as the wife of a traveling husband and mom of two tiny humans, I made the terrifying and totally bizarre leap from health insurance broker to successful newborn and family photographer, all with the amazing craziness of a two year old and the newborn in tow. But I’m not the only one. I’m so glad you’re joining me as I chat with other moms who took the leap into entrepreneurship and created the ultimate best of both worlds life doing it all amidst the chaos. Hello everybody and welcome back for another episode of amidst the chaos. I’m here with another amazing guest as always, Beth is here joining us to tell us all about her business and her family life and how they both work together. This is a super exciting episode to hear today and I just can’t wait to hear best perspective on, on all the things I’m about to ask her So Beth, thank you for being here and welcome.
Beth: Thank you for having me. I’m excited to chat.
Dana: So, that give us a quick overview of your business and what it does in its current capacity and then we’ll rewind and talk about how it came to be.
Beth: Okay, so I invented a placemat for babies that stops them from dropping and throwing their toys, it’s called the busy baby mat suctions to a table or highchair, and then it has a tether system that you can attach their toys to and since I started that I’ve added more products to the product line to stop like bottles and cups from falling. And then I’m developing something for toddlers so that’s what I do now I sell my products on my website and on Amazon,
Dana: which is the whole reason that I’m super excited about this today because you are literally every moms goals because every mom has had some idea. Over the course of raising their children or babies or whatever, even in the first week of having a baby, I’m sure I was like, Why isn’t this a thing, why hasn’t somebody fix this problem for me and that’s exactly what you did, except for you follow through, like, for all the ideas that I’ve had, and didn’t follow through on like I could have so many businesses at this point and I just want to hear your story of how you thought of it all the way through how you found, you’re able to produce it and market it and all the things so why don’t we start all the way back to the beginning, before you invented the busy mat and talk to me about what your family life looked like, and your work life as well.
Beth: Okay. I actually grew up the daughter of an entrepreneur, my dad had his own welding business my entire life. And so my first job was, you know, sweeping the floors at his welding shop and mowing the grass and I knew, like, early, early on, I always wanted to be my own boss, but I just never knew what I wanted to do so after I graduated high school I actually ended up joining the army. One of the things my dad had taught me was, you know, it’s fine to have your own business but it’s really hard, and you have to really really love what you’re doing because there’s going to be ups and downs and if you don’t love what you’re doing, you’re never going to get through those downs and so when I was done with high school I wasn’t really passionate about going to college, and I didn’t know what I was really passionate about for my own business, and a recruiter called me at just the right time and it got me in the army, so I spent 10 years in the military. So amazing. Yeah, it was, it was like a lifetime ago, A couple lifetimes ago really. And then when I got out of the military I just did all the things I felt like I was supposed to do, you know I had a college fund so I went to school and I got you know, a general business management degree and I ended up getting a corporate job and settled into that finally, it took me a while to adjust after the military I moved I was in 14 countries in 10 years. And so when I got out, it was really hard to just sit in one place. So it took me about five years of kind of piano gypsy and doing a lot of different things before I was able to come back Minnesota plant some roots get a corporate job buy a house and do all the things I supposed to be doing. And throughout all of that, I never met the right person and never started a family and I was creeping up on 40 years old and I thought well, I guess this might just be my lot in life, but you know I have four nieces and nephews that are amazing and I’ll just be the coolest I’ve ever that I met Mr. Right, and we had our first baby when I turned 40 And so I was working I was working a corporate job and I did what most women who were lucky enough to do I guess I shouldn’t say most because I don’t know if most women can do this but I took my maternity leave, and then went back to work, and when I went back to work and had a drop off my son at daycare, I was just like, oh my god, this sucks. Sucks woman is awesome. She’s incredible. I know she’s gonna take great care of my son but like, I want to be the one who gets to see his first steps and do his, you know like all the things she gets to have them all day every day. And so I just thought, you know, this is seriously I needed to come up with a business because I want to be in charge of my own life, you know I was going to work nine to five clickety clack and on my keyboard just doing, you know, corporate II things. It was boring like it made it. I made a good living, I had a good salary and I, you know, it provided all the things I needed in my life but it wasn’t fun. It wasn’t something I was passionate about, and then now I have to do that and miss out on my kids life so I decided that right away when I went back to work that okay now is the time I need to come up with something. And I think it was literally the next day, a couple of my high school, or stay at home mom friends had taken me out to lunch, just to kind of check on my mental well being, with the transition back to work. And they brought their one year old daughters with them in the entire lives was spent in this cramped little pizzeria with these two girls dropping everything on the floor reaching for the salt and pepper. One of the moms is a germaphobe so she was wiping everything down she couldn’t like the food could not touch the surface of the table, and she didn’t even trust the cleanliness of the plates, there was just no height and like we couldn’t even finish his son so that was so distracting. Girls are cute love them to death but it was just like, oh my god, What can I buy and I got on my phone right there and was like looking on Amazon, what can I buy to keep my son busy. When we go out to eat so that he won’t be such a distraction, like there’s got to be something and I had joked about creating a T Rex outfit where you can like chain their elbows back to their back offices and then you can like unchained them when the food comes so they can reach. Oh my god, probably not going to be very well received, but there’s got to be something, and I looked at mine and there was nothing and so then the next day, I was commuting to, I had to drive an hour to where I was working and I was pumping, while I was working, or while I was driving, and so I had on that strapless bra that you can stick your pump in and, and I thought, Oh, what if there was some sort of placemat that you could like, attach the thing inserted thing into and I had this idea pop into my head of a placemat that you could attach stuff to. So when I got home, I told my fiance about it and he’s like, You know I have this idea how to do it that he’s like, he should like try and make one. I was like, Okay, well, I don’t even know how to do that, so I got a quarter sheet baking sheet and the actual like part for my pump the I can’t remember whether something called that you beforehand, the final looking thing. And I took a thing of caulk like silicone caulk and squirted it into the flange and squirted it into the baking sheet, and let it set and then like I started making my own like kind of mock up prototype of like how could this thing work. No way. Yeah, it’s done so bad, and I still had no idea how it would work but I was like there’s something here like I just felt something. And so that’s sort of ordering stuff from Amazon to cut and glue together with suction cups and make my own prototypes, but I was only trying to solve my own problem. One of my best friends and had a baby a days after me so when I kind of figured out this whole suction cup to a mat with some way of hooking things on. I made one for her and I made one for me and that was really the end of it until about a month later and she called me after going to the bowling alley and forgiving her math thing and she said, Oh my God, it was a disaster. I didn’t realize how useful this thing was until I didn’t have it. She was you need to make this thing for real. And so that’s kind of where I was like huh, how would you do that, and that’s now here we are, it’s for real.
Dana: That is amazing. I think you have really outlined exactly how so many people feel especially when they have an idea like that you’re like, Okay, how would I even start that in on so many levels like not only the like physical making level obviously that’s one thing but then you have to get the pieces for it and then you know the safety assets just so many layers of staff to take. So what made you kind of be like okay, it’s worth all that. Because what did. What did you even do next because obviously you would kind of cut and paste this. This prototype but where did you even go to figure out the next steps.
Beth: If I’m being honest if I knew how much work this was going to be before when I started I probably wouldn’t have done it.
Dana: One day I’m going to make like a reel of all of my guests saying pretty much that same exact sentence, glad I did.
Beth: I’m sorry.
Dana: Yeah, that’s where it ends. Yes.
Beth: never change it, but, like, Thank God I didn’t know everything I just did the next best thing. So like in each moment, it’s like okay well what would be the next best thing to do, so I was like what I if I want to start a business, I need to learn about how to start a business and so I found a group that is called bunker labs and it’s an organization that helps military veterans and their families who want to start businesses it basically, they have courses and they hold your hand for free, to teach you how to start a business, so that was my first, like how do I do this, like, I should probably file an LLC to have a business name to do all this under and that’s pretty inexpensive. And I can handle that. So then okay now what’s the next step. Well I, I am not a mechanically minded person, I can’t do a CAD drawing of my product. And I didn’t know what to do next and so one of those. Some advice I got from somebody that I share now with everyone is go to an industry event for whatever industry it is that you want to be a part of, and just walk the event and so I went to the Toy Fair in New York City, which is one of the biggest events for the toy industry. And I just walked the infant baby aisle, it was like 100 booths of just infant and baby products, and I talked to the businesses that would talk to me and one of them was another mom and vendor. And, you know she’s, I was like could you be my mentor, because she was just so successful, she was on our third product launch, and she was just a mom like me you know she’s She solved a problem that she had with her baby when her baby was born and. And now she was, you know, at our third product and doing well. She’s like I wish I could be your mentor I just, I have my business is growing, I have two little kids, but I’ll give you 20 minutes of my time now and I said I will take it like I’ll ask you every question you will let me ask you, until like, you need to go. And one of the pieces of advice she gave me was start with professional product development, like when you have an invention or an idea you see those commercials on TV that are like one 800 and then help calm, or, you know you have an idea. We’ll help you bring it to the market just call us that she did that with her first product and she said you just start with professional product developers from the get go because unless you know how to design a product for the manufacturing process and use CAD draw, you know, do a CAD drawing and all that stuff, you’re gonna have to eventually use a professional product developer. Anyway, it’s expensive, but it’s just save yourself the hassle. Okay, so I was like that’s, I don’t have enough money to do something like that right now but, you know, it was good advice. And I walked a little further down the aisle and I ran into another baby company and they kind of told me the same thing, like you need to get a professional pack. Like, that’s what this other lady said so they, they’re like, How do you pick up like a product developer, like just Google product developer and pick one. No no no no, you always want to use recommendations and I stand by that as well. They said we love our product developers, give us your card, we’ll pass it along to them and they’ll reach out to you, I’m sure. So they did, and that’s who I’ve been working with ever since. So that was a expensive, expensive scary risky thing to do. But at the time to get started them was a certain amount of money just like to take the first steps, and I did my taxes and my tax return was within dollars of that amount. Wow, literally like a couple dollars I was like well if that’s not a sign, I don’t know what. Seriously, I didn’t have, you know, I wanted to do something fun with my tax return, like by myself something that I don’t really need. I don’t know something irresponsible. But and it’s I guess this was kind of like something, I don’t know, I was like, if I don’t do it, then I’m always gonna wonder, so I have enough money right now to at least start and see what could become of this, so I did. And then I just kept taking the next best step along the way.
Dana: Wow. First off, I have to say I so appreciate you breaking this out down into very very tangible steps because it’s true. Like, I went on 100% confident but I’m not like 95% confident that most of the people who have a great idea and don’t follow through with it, it’s only because they don’t know where to start. It’s only because they haven’t been to a fair like you talked about and haven’t asked the right questions and really push to be like, Okay, well you’re saying to only do it based on recommendation, give me the recommendation. Come on now and, and I think people just don’t realize that it really is just a matter of making those connections and finding the right people who can put you in touch with the other eight people, and you could Google it, you absolutely could, but to be able to get into that lane and I think social media to like that could be a whole different avenue, you could be get your hands on people who are willing to chat with you and DMS to if they’re building their business and what product developer they use like, you don’t have to go to a big fear to make it happen. There are so many ways to actually do it. And I love that you just talked us through that because it really just, it simplifies it like that just went from you, my mind was totally blown at how you would even start that to like, oh, well duh. I think that’s I think that’s so inspiring because it really doesn’t have to be quite as complicated and scary as that big, you know, dark cloud of the unknown can sometimes be,
Beth: oh God, the unknown. That cloud is.
Dana: It is so scary. Okay, so you get in touch with this product developer they reach out and you, you know, I guess, assume get them your prototype and your ideas and then what happened from there. Was it a you know long wait to be able to actually get product in hand, like, how did you build your business at that point,
Beth: from the day that I started working with them until the day my first customer got to hold their own busy baby Matt was one year.
Dana: Wow, that’s, that’s, that’s pretty fast.
Beth: Yeah, it was a process of what the product developers, it was go back and forth on like what it could look like what it could be, and then it was prototyping and then they handed me off to as kind of like a sister company that helps with the sourcing of finding a manufacturer of getting it actually made in bulk and getting it here to sell and then I had to learn how to start a website like where am I going to sell this thing. So starting a website, which I got help from the Small Business Development Center. I think every state has one, and they can help you start a website.
Dana: And so that’s the military one that you were talking about earlier?
Beth: there are so many resources out there to help you start a business, but you just have to know where to find them, and I, I was extremely resourceful, and reached out to every organization I could and I got funding, I had to, no interest, no payment loans to hurt it for 18 months so I got, you know, free money for 18 months to get started because obviously you need money to make the product but if you’re not selling anything or making any money, how are you supposed to pay for that. It’s not like I didn’t have a whole bunch of money in my savings account, you know, right, so there’s there’s places there’s economic development centers in most states that will help support with low interest or no interest loans. I competed in entrepreneurial startup business competitions at local colleges, which all those things just got me connected to more and more resources, figure it out because I do, I do a little talk now, I’d love to help entrepreneurs especially moms who have ideas who are just starting, and I do talk sometimes in the title of my talk is how I grew a seven figure company without having a clue what I was doing. I love that I have not had a clue I still sometimes feel like I have no idea what I’m doing, but I just use all the resources, there’s so many resources and I’m happy to connect people with resources and give ideas and how to find it and and make those kind of connections for each step of the way.
Dana: It’s amazing, it’s truly truly amazing what you done and I know and I know a year is fast when you said that I was like, oh, like that’s like I really was surprised that they went that quickly, but at the same time for people who are not super patient. A year is a long time. So how did you balance like that mental side of building this business like you have all this money in it, but there’s nothing coming back, your way yet or even towards the company, let alone to into your actual pocket so how did you manage both your mental health during this and like your time management, you have a family, you have a regular job, like, how did you survive that year
Beth: I did a lot of time blocking. I did a lot of compartmentalizing so I still do so there’s certain times like I wake up before the kids and do the business and then I just quit my corporate job this summer. And so then I would you know go to work between meetings, you know I would between meetings I would click over to my busy baby email and answer emails and do busy baby stuff between meetings I honestly like baby TMI but would handle busy baby stuff from the restroom. Yep, you know, take my phone with me, and just like all those little packets of time if I would get to daycare to pick up 10 minutes earlier than I needed to be there I would take those 10 minutes to knock out some busy baby stuff, and then four to seven every day was my time for my family. And when you know few exceptions, I would close the phone close to a computer and just really focus on like pick up the kid, or now two kids from daycare, make supper, hang out with them, get them to bed, and then get back to work if I needed to, or most times I actually just am so exhausted I just go to bed, when they go to bed.
Dana: I know there’s so much ambition for the evening hours right like you’re like okay, tonight after bedtime and then after bedtime comes in, you’re like, Oh no, this hit a wall. So how did you deal with the weight right how did you deal with like this time obviously there’s so much you had to do in there, build your website all the backend work like all that good stuff, but it’s still a long time, like how did you remind yourself to keep going and then it was worth it.
Beth: You know it didn’t feel like a long time at the time because I just felt like every day my to do list I had these, like, maybe I just had like short vision shortsightedness I just like here’s what I need to do, here’s what I need to do nothing else can happen till I get this done, so that I just checked those things off the list but then as I check things off the list, new things come on to the list and it just keep. I think I have tenacity to just keep going. And then you look back and it’s like holy crap, like look how far I’ve come, I didn’t even realize it because I just keep doing these daily tasks and it’s you look back now it’s like, whoa, you know, one year ago, like a year and two months ago I was still filling orders from my basement of my house with two colors of a busy baby mat like two skews, now I have a separate building that I, my husband and my dad and my brother built into like a fulfillment center for me because we live in the country. So we have these extra bills. They completely like added walls electricity, insulation, heat air everything to make me my own fulfillment center. And now we have a wall of 63 skews, you know, All these different products and all these different models. That was only 14 months ago that I only had had
Dana: is wild, that’s a whole, that’s a podcast for a different day the whole construction of your warehouse I mean that’s like literally building a business from the ground up, literally,
Beth: it feels, it feels like that was five years ago, but honestly, I mean, the idea is only four years old. So, that’s amazing.
Dana: So, speaking of your family, how do they feel I’m sure your dad was like totally on board right like you’ve done all the other things you had talked about and then so how does your husband feel your, your, your dad, your how your kids, all the people.
Beth: Oh, my kids well my son, my oldest son loves that because he’s the logo so he always points at the logo and says, that’s me I’m the baby and he loves he’s, he just started preschool and he’s really excited to start learning how to read, because he wants to help me so badly with the kids we built a kids play area into the warehouse so I can have them with me. When I’m working and stuff and. And so,
Dana: okay, you’re like, superhero right now like everything about your whole story I’m like I need to be you. It’s fun. It’s amazing. Oh,
Beth: my God, it’s honestly I feel guilty about it because I feel like I should be spending my time playing actively engaging with them rather than having them playing behind me with, you know all their paw Patrol toys and whatever it is they’re playing and I you know I have my whiteboard that is half work and half doodles because, you know, Christian just learned the letter M and he knew the letter o, so he was writing mom for me on my board while I’m on my computer here doing, you know, doing busy baby work in the warehouse it’s I feel guilty, but I also, at least he’s I think he’s learning from me, watching this and I’m hoping as he gets older, he’ll, he’ll be more of a part of it. We’ll see, but I don’t even know what your question was, but, oh no, you’re
Dana: fine, no we. I know I was like I totally derailed you because I was like, oh my gosh she felt a playground into her warehouse like that is amazing.
Beth: Like an elaborate playground is a bunch of toys and nugget and it’s actually fine.
Dana: All they care about at that age anyway it’s perfect. And I just love I just love that you made space for them, and it’s practical, you know, it’s, and I think it’s hard for especially for entrepreneurs like you who have you know a product based business, it can be really hard to safely involve your kids, not only in the business but just in that around the business right just being around it so I think it’s awesome that you that you figured that out. So okay what about your dad and husband, how did they feel.
Beth: Jake my, I guess we’re technically still just engaged. We got engaged, and then got pregnant, and then, because of my age wanted to get going on having a sibling right because you know I’m an advanced maternal age I like to call it. So we, and then the business has consumed, our life. And so we just have not gotten around to planning a wedding it but anyway he is fine with that too. He loves helping and being a part of it, he’s my muscle. So when I need someone to move boxes or build me things, or stuff like that he’s a farmer, so he’s, he’s got time in the winter and he’s got time when we’re waiting for the crops to grow that he can pitch in and help and he likes doing that.
Dana: That’s so awesome I feel like it is such a commitment to because they have to understand that like, you know your partner has to understand that the time that you’re spending on the business is for a greater purpose but it’s really hard to explain everything that you have to do in a day, you know, and to have them involved in around it I’m sure helps.
Beth: Yeah, and honestly what’s the most helpful lately has been now that we have two kids is he is a super bad, and so if I need to go do something like when I went to go film Shark Tank. I was in Vegas by myself for eight days and nights like I was horrified. I filmed during, during the pandemic, and so he had to be super dad and stay home for nine days with an eight month old and a three year old. That’s a lot. And yeah, it’s a lot I mean it’s a lot for both of us together.
Dana: When with both right and things are good.
Beth: Right. And so, you know, things come up that I gotta leave for a couple days, Or I got to take a like late meeting or, you know, and he just teep comes through every single time. And I think he likes to be a part of my dad I think is really proud of me. I think he was a little like cautious and a little nervous for me in the beginning, because he just knows like could not work could be hard, right, can be really hard and it you know can be. But now that I’ve gotten through it, I think we use my dad I said he had this welding shop my whole life. And when Shark Tank was about to air we ordered a ton of product but I didn’t have any place to put it. My dad was actually in the process of retiring and moving out of his shop and so we actually have like semi loads of product get delivered to my dad’s welding shop. And now, did all of our fulfillment when Shark Tank aired we had all my friends and family. Come to my dad’s welding shop, and we just had tables set up of product and I would print out orders and take them out to the floor and everybody would just start filling orders and I think we filled, like 15 or 20, big laundry carts for the USPS postal service of orders, and that was in my dad shop, which is so cool because he built that the same summer my brother was born. And now my whole circle moment well circle and my brother joined me in the business he quit his full time job this year and join me in the business and so the three of us now in my dad’s building like really cool though. Yeah,
Dana: it was awesome, amazing well okay so let’s back up I got totally sidetracked let’s back up to to pre shark tank so at this point you, you have your products made and talk to me about like your initial launch into the world and then let’s go from there to Shark Tank, how about that.
Beth: So, that’s kind of like part of, they’re kind of tied together actually so when I was launching, I had no idea what to do, other than email everybody I knew that I was launching and ask those people to share with everybody else and share on social media I had my website and I had my products listed there, and I was, I was ready to go. And so I send out an email to literally every email address I had probably like high school sweethearts 20 Some years got an email like why is about emailing me about this baby product, it’s even funnier because my high school suite like people my age have kids graduating high school right now they don’t have it, Right, or like some of them have even already become grandparents. So anyway, I had gotten an email address from for Shark Tank producer when I was in that first entrepreneurship course because the show had reached out looking for veterans to feature. At the time I was literally just starting, I was not ready so I took the email address, and put it in my email, like in my contact list and then forgot all about it so a year later when I’m launching I blasted out that email, and started taking I think I got 100 orders in the first month from just you know, sending out this email and people sharing on Facebook, but then I also got an email from a producer attracting saying, I see you’ve launched your product. Do you have any interest in being on the show.
Dana: So were you like hold up, like, like, did I act like did you realize you had sent it to him. I know when you know but I was like,
Beth: Oh, I forgot I even email, and like, at first, because he said What are your sales I see what’s your product, what are your sales, would you be interested in being on Shark Tank and I was like, do I make something up, because like I looked, I didn’t have sales I mean I have some but very very tiny amount of sales. And so I just decided no, I’m just gonna tell him like yes I just launched my products are available for sale, I don’t have much for sales yet. And, but I would love to be on the show. And he said well we tend to like, we take businesses at all, all stages, you know, even some that haven’t even sold a single thing yet. We’ll just have prototypes, but to set you up for success, it would be best if you had at least $100,000 in sales. And at the time I think I was at like 10,000. So I was like, Well, I’m not there yet and he’s like well let’s just stay in touch and you know, reach back out to me when you get there. Okay, okay, so then I go about my life and I’m, I tried to run some Facebook ads I didn’t have any luck with that. So then I start doing expos, so there was a local moms group that does a kind of just like a small Expo, locally in the city here and so I, you know, paid the money 100 bucks I think to set up a booth, and I took a table and I just put a tablecloth on it and then I have made a couple posters that I put on easels and just had my product there and just demoed it for all the new and expectant moms that came to this expo, and I think I sold like 30 of them that day. Wow, holy crap, like I just sold like hundreds of dollars of stuff and then a couple hours. And so then I decided to, there was a bigger Expo that was happening in Minneapolis, and so I signed up for that and got better posters made and a little like got a highchair to do the demo on and and I sold like 16 $100 worth of product that day. Wow. Literally everything I brought there, sold, it was like, oh my god this is the best and it was also so gratifying to do the demo and show my product like show what it does to you know will understand it and need it and want it and appreciate it. And when everybody’s like, Oh my god that’s genius, it’s like a huge, like for the ego. Yes, about myself I guess gave me that confirmation that I did have a good idea and that this wasn’t a waste of time and money coming this way,
Dana: which you need because you need that confidence boost when you’re like okay, I’ve done the thing and now it has to work, but it’s not just the sales like you want to hear good feedback and you want to have that positive affirmation and I love that for you and I, I think it’s awesome that you did the in person expos I like my heart breaks for all the people that came up with products in 2020 and didn’t ever get to do that.
Beth: And so that, that became my thing in 2019. After that second Expo, I signed up for every Expo I was working my corporate job Monday through Friday. And then this is where Jake came in clutch because I would fly out Saturday to Orlando or San Diego or wherever the expo is going to be set up my booth, and they were the preggo expos are the ones I went to the most, and they were a four hour event on Sundays. And so I would go there Saturday set up my booth. Do the foreword for our event on Sunday, it was like literally pack as many busy baby mats as I could into my suitcase, sell them all the expo fly home with empty suitcases that Sunday night, and then go back to work on Monday, and Jane wouldn’t watch Christian while I was gone and that would be, you know, a couple weekends a month that I would do that, all of 2019. Wow, so that’s how that started and then in 2020, I had baby number two. And I also had just gotten product in retail packaging since I was selling ecommerce there was no need to spend the extra money on fancy boxes and stuff because that’s just easier to mail a polybag. But I decided I was gonna try and go into retail so I started learning about that, how do you do retail packaging, what are the requirements to be in retail all that more learning stuff. I got some product made in retail packaging which I received in December January of 2020 I also had my baby in January of 2020. Wow. So my plan was while I was on maternity leave, you know once I recovered from actually giving birth. Then I was birthing a human, caring human like give me, give myself a couple of days, and then load, load up the back of my jeep with as many boxes as I could fit and then drive around to every toy store in Minnesota, or baby store and try and sell these mats to the stores, and then the pandemic happened.
Dana: It’s amazing and so at this point, you have Facebook ads going, and you know your social media is rocking and rolling you have your website, everything’s being fulfilled. At what point did you reach back out to Shark Tank.
Beth: So it was the end of 2019 and late summer 2019 And I had actually not met the sales goal yet I hadn’t reached the 100,000 in sales, but I got my patent, my patent was approved. And I was like that’s got to make a difference and so I reached back out to the producer I said I’m not at the goal financially yet but I did get a patent now. Does that make any difference he said yes, absolutely. That’s amazing. But we just wrapped filming Season 11 So please reach out the spring when we start season 12 So that spring was when Coronavirus, you know, but I reached out and they were scrambling and it was a lot of unknown how they were going to make it work and they ended up finding the way to make it work and so that fall i of 2020 I flew to Vegas and then was quarantined and tested and all that and it was like a very very very safe process to film.
Dana: Amazing. And so, at this point, what are you thinking going in because you’ve obviously had success you’ve had lots of positive confirmation that this is an amazing product and a great idea but that’s a super intimidating stage so how did you prepare mentally to be like okay like I’m confident that this is my product and I know how it works and I know it works well.
Beth: I think I just was because I had done so many expos and literally at every Expo and I did the same demo. More than 100 times for sure every Expo, and I watched every single episode of Shark Tank in preparation, which is exhausting.
Dana: Exactly I can’t even imagine, that’s a lot more exhausting, because there’s like 24 episodes every season and there was 11th season so that’s like 200 days on that. But by then it was just like I felt like I know those people. I didn’t feel like they were like so intimidated anymore because just, they were just smashing your friends now, that’s all you had done for however many weeks watching.
Beth: Yeah, and I had been kind of visualizing and manifesting being on the show for the whole time, you know, since I had. They even showed a clip of it when I was first cutting and gluing my prototypes together I took a video of myself I think I was sending a snapshot to somebody. And I had shark tank on in the background and I’m making the prototypes and I say to the camera, I’m going to be on Shark Tank Sunday that day that I was filming was exactly three years and two days from when I made that video. Wow, so I had asked I had been, you know over the years, I would post that video on what do you call Thursday. Oh Throwback Thursday, like Thursday. And so I, it was a Thursday I was at the Shark Tank, there was a day I was actually going to be filming, and I asked the producers can I post this because you couldn’t tell anybody what you were doing, like nobody knew what I other than, you know, Jake, nobody knew where I was or what I was doing. And so I said I always post this video on the anniversary of me taking the video and that’s this week, is it okay if I post it, they’re like, Nope, you can’t post it because you mentioned shark tank in the video. And so it’s like against the rules whatever they’re like, but we’d like to show the sharks that video if you could send it to us so we can show it to them when you’re on set, and so they showed it to them and then they ended up showing it on air to amazing preparing for that moment forever,
Dana: so I can’t imagine that feeling like, oh my gosh I’m actually done this is legitimately your goal for so many years at that point, that’s amazing. So you said you guys were you knew like it had gone well obviously and you know you’re leaving and you’re you’re back home waiting for the episode to air. So, other than ordering all of the things in preparation for the airing What else did you guys have to do in that waiting period between, you know, obviously you’re still running your business right you have to go back after filming this amazing episode to your everyday life. So how did those few months work.
Beth: Oh my god they were awful. Nobody can know that that’s what I was doing, and they tell you along the way every step of the way, even when you record, there is no guarantee that you are going to be on the air, and I actually know people who made a deal, and then never got on the air, and so then the deal ended up, you know, maybe not going through or whatever because they didn’t even get on the air. And so I never knew if it was going to air or not. Well I was actually at Shark Tank, preparing to film it. I was so overwhelmed with the business, it was just growing and it was still just me, and I was on the phone with my brother, I think I was like, I did FaceTime with him to practice my pitch, and he was still working, he was, he runs a Dick’s Sporting Goods and men in Minnesota like he’s, and he’s got four kids, and you know he’s the breadwinner for their family, and supports them and I was like, I can’t keep doing this like I am so stressed out, I’m so overwhelmed, I need another me like I can’t afford a six figure salary to hire somebody who can help me and that’s the kind of person I need. Right. I was like, you should just quit your job and live in your camper on my property and help me. And he’s sure I’ll do that and I was like, and your kids can help fill orders because the kids love feeling love to come over and help fill orders. It’s like yeah I’m not opposed to Child, child labor, and we were just kind of joking about it, but then when I got off the phone with him I was like wait a minute, he is the perfect person to join me. And so I convinced him to quit his job, and so in February of this year he quit his job, and we still didn’t know if we were ever going to air I had no idea. Wow. And so for me it’s like if I, if I fail this business, it’s okay because I still have my job if I failed this business now. My brother doesn’t have his job anymore he quit his job, like I I’m responsible for the livelihood of my brother and his, you know his children and I can’t screw this up now. So it’s stressful and then we ordered all that product hoping we would air. But if you didn’t know it. Still, it was like a half a million dollars worth of product that we ordered and, because it takes time, it takes time to manufacture it takes time to get it packaged up and ready to distribute, and you get like a week and a half notice when you’re going to air, like, I think we had two weeks notice, and so that’s not enough time and if you don’t have product to sell. You’re not going to sell anything and you lose that opportunity so I thought well, my products are silicone, they’re not gonna go bad, I’m just gonna order them and if I don’t air, they’ll sell eventually. And so the day that I actually got the news, my brother and my dad and I had been at the welding shop unloading a semi of product, getting it all organized. And then we went out for lunch and at lunch, I checked my phone before I got in the car to drive home and saw an email that said something like Shark Tank airdate, And I was like, and I’m willing wrote about bawling because it was just like, oh thank god. Thank god, this is kind of happen and like it’s gonna be okay,
Dana: literally crying, I just met you 40 minutes ago and I’m crying It’s fine, everything’s
Beth: okay i cries, I’m still crying to thinking about it because it was such a relief because like so much was on the line, and it was such a big risk and I didn’t even realize I had made that big of a risk because you just keep doing the next best thing, right, and the next best thing was, if I’m gonna err on Shark Tank, I better make sure I have products on my order a bunch of product didn’t realize how much pressure and weight was army with all that until the relief came and it was amazing.
Dana: That is the greatest story so okay so it obviously paid off your episode aired you were able to fulfill all those orders and Was it okay like were you able to stay on top of it with the huge influx that obviously came down that, yeah,
Beth: yeah, It’s been great. It’s been great. It’s been awesome that I’ve had my brother’s help we’ve, we’ve worked still figuring things out as we go but it’s it’s been awesome.
Dana: It’s so amazing and I just love that all of this came from you, having just a tiny bit of persistence and being like, Okay, I know that this is a great idea and I know I can make it work and figuring it out. I am truly, truly, so honored to have you on the podcast and to hear your story. It was so funny you started talking, and you’re like okay I had this baby, and the first day you go to your job, you’re like, Nope, this isn’t for me. Well no, nope, and now it’s so hilarious because I’m sure you’re working, probably more than you were. Oh yeah, way more but it but it’s something for you and it’s something for your family that builds a legacy and something that you know you’ll have for all these years and you’re showing them an example of entrepreneurship and making something for yourself in your life. So,
Beth: yeah, today I got to sit and eat lunch with my preschooler before he hopped on the bus to go to preschool and and then get back to work and while I’ve been sitting here talking to you I’ve been sorting and folding the next like size of clothes for my toddler. So we just multitask and get it all done.
Dana: She’s, she’s a hero people, for real. So that’s tell everybody where we can find you website Instagram, Facebook, all the things
Beth: on all the socials it’s at busy baby mat, and the website is busy baby mat calm or even busy baby calm you can find us at both
Dana: amazing. All right, well thank you so so much for joining us and I’m so excited for everybody to hear this I know it’s gonna be super inspirational so thank you thank you thank you thank you.
Beth: It’s been fun talking to.
Dana: All right, we’ll talk soon.
Beth: All right.
Dana: I am so honored you spent any minutes of your day listening to me babble about living this entrepreneurial life amidst the chaos in any mom’s normal day to day. If you love what you’ve heard and read more snippets of knowledge about this mob boss life, head over to our website at amidst the chaos podcast, calm. For show notes and links to anything which you know today’s episode. If you’re really feeling inspired, it will mean the world to me and my family if you take the time to write in with you. Thanks for joining me, amidst the chaos.
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