Any parent of a toddler knows that dinnertime messes are inevitable — or are they? This is the question Lindsey Laurain will pose to the sharks when she asks them to invest $1 million for 5 percent of her company, EZPZ, on Friday night’s Shark Tank. Laurain invented a line of sticky food ware (including Happy Mat) that adheres to table tops, so little ones are prevented from pushing them off or flinging them across the room.
In a preview clip posted on CarterMatt, shark Kevin O’Leary has an immediate response to Laurain’s hefty valuation: “Thanks for playing.” The clip ends before revealing whether Laurain has the sales to back up her request. In an ABC News clip from October, 2015, Laurain revealed the company was approaching 100,000 units in sales. She and her husband had both quit their jobs to focus on the business full-time while raising their three sons.
Laurain conceived of the product at home, as she and her husband experienced a situation common to many parents, as she told Castle Rock News.
“One night during dinner, my husband out of frustration said someone needs to invent something that kids can’t toss and throw. The next day, I started Googling and searching and realized that nothing really existed. So, I came home and said ‘I’m going to do this.'”
The product has generated some buzz — EZPZ was a finalist in the QuickBooks Small Business Big Game contest. The ultimate prize was an appearance in a 2016 Super Bowl commercial. Although they didn’t win — the winner has yet to be announced, EZPZ made the top 10, not the top 3 — their accomplishment is an impressive feat, since the contest had 15,000 entries and the top companies were chosen by public votes.
EZPZ has been used in other capacities not anticipated by Laurain and her husband. It’s effective for children and adults with different physical abilities, including those with Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy and autism. That has been a rewarding part of the business, according to Laurain.
“Anyone that needs to work on core motor functions can benefit. They can hold onto the mat and become self-feeders. That gives me the chills because we really are making difference in people lives.”
That aspect of their product has been emphasized in much of EZPZ’s social media, including its Twitter feed.
— ezpz (@ezpzfun) January 5, 2016
Working with children who are having difficulties with swallowing, feeding, or eating? Try these so https://t.co/97B5Cd22co
— ezpz (@ezpzfun) January 7, 2016
The Laurains are not just clever inventors. They seem to have a knack for marketing, with an extensive blog that includes tips on eating, like making food fun for picky kids, and general ideas on how to use their product. In the ABC News clip, it was suggested a cookbook was on the way from the couple.
— Arianna Pflederer (@AriannaPfled) January 8, 2016
So, will the sharks invest? As CarterMatt noted, the valuation seems extremely high for the glutted baby product space. But the product will probably be seen as a good one worthy of a look. Kid and baby products have a mixed history on Shark Tank. Monkey Mat got an investment from Lori Greiner and Mark Cuban; Lollaland partnered with Cuban and Robert Herjavec; Neat Cheeks got a “yes” from Barbara Corcoran.
Meanwhile, FunBites, a product parents use to cut food into fun shapes to encourage kids to be interested in their food, left without a deal.
Shark Tank airs Friday nights at 9 p.m. on ABC. Its companion series, Beyond the Tank, airs Thursday nights at 8 p.m.
[Photo courtesy of EZPZ/Instagram]