SnoofyBee Before Shark Tank
SnoofyBee is an innovative and original changing pad that makes diaper changes less of a wrestling match, and more of an easy and mess-free experience for parents, as well as an enjoyable one for babies.
Mike and Amy Perry, from Albany, Oregon, first came up with the idea for SnoofyBee when their first child was six months old. As soon as his diaper came off the never-ending curiosity, that all babies have resulted in his hands shooting down to investigate. Faced with that daily bout of wrestling, Mike and Amy resorted to tag-teaming the opposition. But they hated it, the little one hated it, and they searched for a product that had been designed to make diaper changes far less of a battle.
They found lots of stationary changing tables, and bulky pillows, but nothing that would give their constantly curious son something to distract him from his diaper changes. When their second son was born and the wrestling matches became a part of their daily lives again, they came up with the idea for a product that would negate the need for any wrestling at all. The SnoofyBee was really three products in one, a large cushioned changing mat, but with a separating barrier that doubled as a play mat to keep those little hands away from the diaper changing action, and give babies something right in front of their eyes to occupy them. A folded section made a third use for the SnoofyBee, as an easy and convenient diaper clutch.
Mike and Amy designed a prototype, which quickly attracted a lot of attention from fellow parents, and they found a manufacturer abroad. In mid-2015 they turned to the crowdfunding site Kickstarter to raise enough funds for a bulk order, in order to reduce manufacturing costs, and the campaign was a huge success. Mike and Amy had set a goal of $15,000, but when the 45 day funding period ended, they had raised over $120,000 from over 2,800 backers. That was more than enough momentum for them to give up their careers and concentrate on SnoofyBee full-time. In mid-2017 they entered the Shark Tank, hoping a shark partner would help them expand the business into major retailers.
SnoofyBee On Shark Tank
By the time Mike and Amy came to the Shark Tank, they had five children, and the youngest one of all, 10-month old Emmett came with them to help with the pitch. Mike and Amy were looking for an investment of $85,000 from a shark, in exchange for a 10% stake in the business.
Mike explained about curious kids and the way they would make diaper changing time such a messy business, while Amy and Emmett demonstrated how easy the SnoofyBee was to use, and once that separating barrier had brought a couple of rattles up in front of Emmett’s eyes, he forgot all about the sharks for a while. Amy showed the sharks that the barrier could just be removed to create a large conventional changing pad, and that the SnoofyBee came with a large foam pillow to keep a baby comfortable, all contained within a waterproof cover that could be wiped clean in seconds.
The sharks loved the pitch, in large part due to the presence of Emmett, who had performed his role perfectly. ‘Do we get samples?’ Lori Greiner asked, ‘We’ll take the baby’ she added, and she was probably at least half-joking. Robert Herjavec was first in line for a sample, but he was more interested in Emmett too. He picked him up, while Mike explained that Emmett wasn’t always so cheerful up close, and it’s true that Emmett was glancing at mommy, slightly concerned while Robert admired the youngest member of the SnoofyBee team.
Mike made as if to reclaim Emmett, but Robert passed him over to Lori, who was eagerly waiting for her own special time with Emmett, and even with her superior baby skills, Emmett still looked a little worried. I was wondering what was going to happen if Emmett got transferred down the line, after all, Kevin O’Leary was next, but fortunately dad stepped in to save the day, picking a relieved Emmett back up and announcing that it was his nap-time, and although he’d been good so far, he was going to wait with Grandma outside the tank for the rest of the pitch.
With Emmett now gone the sharks got down to business. Robert’s first observation was that the SnoofyBee was a great idea, while guest shark Bethenny Frankel wanted to know what was proprietary about the product. Mike explained that the barrier, or ‘Redirection barrier’ as he called it, had a utility patent pending on it. Kevin inquired how long the patent would take to be awarded, and Mike admitted it would probably take at least another year.
Mark Cuban asked Mike and Amy what background in business they had. Amy revealed that neither of them had a background in business, before SnoofyBee she had sold shampoo part-time, and Mike had worked in sales for freight logistics for nine years. Robert asked why they had made the decision to go into business, and Mike explained that after they had created a rough prototype of the SnoofyBee, purely to use for their own child, they had taken it to a children’s party one day, and been deluged by interest from other parents.
That interest in the product had led the couple to launch their Kickstarter campaign to fund a bulk order. After the incredible success of the campaign, the couple had ordered 10,000 units of the SnoofyBee, but when the order arrived, things were very wrong. 30% of the units were not fully completed, which led to Mike to commit fully to the business. He quit his job and hired people to complete 3,000 SnoofyBee units from the family home.
The Sharks were fairly impressed at Mike and Amy’s story, particularly the way they had overcome a big problem at such an early stage. The subject of sales to date came up next, and once again the SnoofyBee couple impressed the sharks with their success so far. In only two years of business, they had achieved total sales of $700,000. The first year had been $140,000, going up to $400,000 in the second. For the current year, Mike and Amy were projecting total sales in excess of $650,000.
Robert Herjavec asked where the sales were being made, and Mike confirmed all sales had been made online, through the SnoofyBee website, and via Amazon. Lori Greiner asked if they had contacted any retailers about the product. Mike revealed that he and Amy were planning to attend a baby show in the future, which impressed the sharks even more, as they had achieved such great sales without actually ever going to a trade show before. Mike admitted that the original manufacturing problem had set the company back in terms of cash-flow, and the help of a shark partner would be invaluable in order to get into the retail sector, hopefully with somewhere like Buy, Buy, Baby – the Bed, Bath and Beyond owned chain with more than 100 locations nationwide.
Mark Cuban asked about profits. Mike confirmed that production costs per unit were now down to around $6, and each SnoofyBee sold for $29.99, a healthy 80% profit margin. Bethenny observed that people would ‘Spend anything on babies’. Robert inquired what the marketing costs for the company had been the previous year, but the news wasn’t quite so positive there, Mike admitted that marketing costs had been around 40% of total revenue, or approximately $100,000, but he and Amy had still made a profit and paid themselves a modest salary of around $4,000 per month to pay the bills.
Mark Cuban had winced at the 40% marketing costs. While he admitted that Mark and Amy deserved a ‘ton of credit’ for what they had achieved so far, all without the benefit of a background in business, he also thought that the challenge of lowering marketing costs was a lot more work than the SnoofyBee entrepreneurs realized, and due to that he wasn’t interested in a deal, Mark was out. Bethenny Frankel was equally impressed with Mike and Amy, calling then ‘True entrepreneurs’, but she was concerned that SnoofyBee was just one product, and it was also not going to gain many repeat sales, you bought it once, and you never needed another one. With that Bethenny also dropped out of the negotiations.
Kevin O’Leary also saw SnoofyBee as a product rather than a business, but he did have an offer to make, with a couple of conditions. Firstly his offer was dependent on the utility patent being granted, and secondly, he wanted to license the SnoofyBee to a large retailer, someone who already had distribution and manufacturing networks, and someone who also had a large customer base. If the patent was awarded Kevin was prepared to pay the $85,000 investment in exchange for 20% of the business.
Robert Herjavec didn’t think Mike and Amy should license the SnoofyBee, as they had built their own business, but Bethenny disagreed. Robert, however, had another offer for Mike and Amy, and it was an improvement on Kevin’s. Robert would invest $125,000 in SnoofyBee, in exchange for 15% of the business, but he wanted to see the investment used to develop new products and expand the business into other SKU’s.
Before the SnoofyBee entrepreneurs could consider that offer, Lori Greiner came up with another deal for them to consider. She told the couple that she loved the product, and had never seen anything like it. She had her own section in Buy, Buy, Baby stores and SnoofyBee would fit into that family of products. Lori told Mike and Amy that she was the perfect partner for SnoofyBee for those reasons, and she would invest $100,000, in exchange for a 20% stake in the company.
Lori completed her offer by confirming that she would finance any large orders, but Robert was quick to interject, telling Mike and Amy that they should take it as read that any shark partner would automatically fund large orders. Lori’s short pitch had been strong, and clearly, Mike and Amy saw her as the perfect partner for SnoofyBee too. Mike told Lori that he and Amy wanted a valuation of around $600,000, and he made a counter-offer, suggesting an investment of $100,000 in exchange for 20% of the company. That was good enough for Lori, and almost immediately she replied ‘Done’, and sealed the deal.
SnoofyBee After Shark Tank Update – Now in 2018
Immediately after their Shark Tank appearance, Mike and Amy confirmed that Lori had been their main preference for a shark partner before filming began, as they too saw her as a ‘Perfect fit’ for the SnoofyBee business. The sharks were unanimous that what Mike and Amy had achieved was fairly exceptional too, all without a business degree or any external funding. Although their performance in the tank had been flawless, Amy admitted afterward that she had found the tank more difficult than natural childbirth at times, but the result had been worth it.
The inevitable surge of interest from Shark Tank viewers was later described as a ‘Tsunami of orders’ by Mike, and the increased sales kept momentum well into 2018. In an interview with Business2Community in February 2018, Mike confirmed that orders were still at four times the level they had been before Shark Tank and that he and Amy were now beginning to shift their focus towards retail sales in the future.
The next step for SnoofyBee is to make nationwide retail sales available, and other new SnoofyBee products are in the pipeline, including a new and improved version of the changing pad, as well as other products for busy parents. International retail distribution is the long-term aim of the company, and the SnoofyBee is available via the company website, or via Amazon, where it has received almost unanimously glowing reviews from over 190 customers.