Jeff Kiger Post-Bulletin, Rochester, Minn.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Beth Fynbo is the creator of the "Busy Baby silicone placemat." As Jeff Kiger reports, "The mat's unique features are stretchy tethers that can be used to attach baby toys to the placemat, which sticks to restaurant or kitchen tables with suction cups."
Entrepreneur and veteran Beth Fynbo faced the Sharks in September and now her presentation and their reaction will be aired on an upcoming episode of ABC's "Shark Tank."
While Fynbo can't reveal any "spoilers," she says, "It's going to make good TV." Her episode will air on March 5.
Having lunch with two friends and their young children in July 2017 inspired her to create the Busy Baby silicone placemat. The mat's unique features are stretchy tethers that can be used to attach baby toys to the placemat, which sticks to restaurant or kitchen tables with suction cups.
In 2018, she started selling the product online directly through her own website. The company grew 900 percent in 2020 with about half of the online sales made through the Busy Baby website and half through Amazon.
Her path to pitching her Busy Baby silicone placemats and toy tethers on "Shark Tank" started soon after she launched her start-up and after taking a Bunker Labs class that helps veterans start businesses. Organizers at the Minneapolis Bunker Labs chapter connected Fynbo to a "Shark Tank" producer.
Eventually, her business had grown to a point where they asked for an audition, which spurred an invitation by the show. In September, Fynbo flew to Las Vegas to tape the show.
Due to the pandemic, she was quarantined in her hotel room for eight days and tested multiple times. The actual experience of walking through the double doors and presenting to the Sharks is a little hazy.
"It was surreal ... I feel like I kind of blacked out," said Fynbo. "But I know I did it like I had practiced it 100 times before."
She also had her experience of presenting at Minnesota's start-up business competition, the MN Cup. Fynbo competed three years in a row, winning the top title and $25,000 in 2019.
It was exciting to learn that her "Shark Tank" segment would actually be aired. She knows other entrepreneurs who presented, but were never broadcast.
"I just started crying, when I got the email," Fynbo said. She was eating lunch with her father, Bill Fynbo, and her brother Eric Fynbo, who recently started working at Busy Baby. His addition doubled the company's workforce.
It's hard to say what will happen when the show airs. To be ready, she has expanded her inventory to 47,000 mats, with the possibility of the show generating 10,000 to 20,000 orders.
"We're ready for whatever happens," said Fynbo.
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