Another Minnesota entrepreneur has a meeting with the Sharks.
Beth Fynbo of Oronoco, owns Minnesota-based Busy Baby and created the Busy Baby Mat, which is a non-slip silicone placement that keeps a child from throwing their toys all over the place.
And her creation has caught the attention of ABC's Shark Tank. She filmed the episode last fall, and now it will air at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 5, on ABC.
Fynbo spoke with the Rochester Post Bulletin recently, saying she can't reveal any spoilers, but "It'll make good TV."
From a busy lunch to national TV
According to the Busy Baby website, Fynbo, an Army veteran who runs the company with her brother, also a veteran, was inspired to create Busy Baby when she was out to lunch with friends and their 1-year-olds. She watched the kids "play fetch with their moms," throwing their toys and watching their moms go get them.
She thought there has to be something she could buy for her son so they can enjoy a peaceful lunch.
Fynbo couldn't find anything online, so she made it herself, her website says.
She created the mat in 2017 using household products and later that year sent a video of her prototype to friends and family. In it, she said she'd end up on Shark Tank one day, KTTC reports.
After finishing a 12-week Bunker Labs entrepreneur course for veterans, attending toy fairs and getting advice from other entrepreneurs, she began selling the product through her website in January 2019 and in 2020, the company grew 200%, the Post Bulletin said.
During that time, she won $25,000 as the top veteran-led company from the Carlson Family Foundation at the MN Cup in 2019 and another $5,000 from the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation. In 2020, she also won $30,000 as the top general division company and another $25,000 from the Carlson Family Foundation for the top women-led company.
And now her dream of going on Shark Tank has become a reality.
According to Med City Beat, Fynbo had gotten a Shark Tank producer's contact information before she was ready to pitch her invention. She added it to her email list, so when she sent out an email about the launch of the Busy Baby Mat, the producer was on it.
The producer responded and asked about sales, and then a year later, in June 2020, she was asked to send in an audition tape, Med City Beat says.
In September, the show flew her out to Las Vegas to film the episode, the Post Bulletin says. She had to quarantine in a hotel room for eight days and be tested for COVID-19 multiple times.
She only recently found out that she'd be on the March 5 episode (not everyone who presents to the Sharks makes the cut to be on air), and she's excited about it. She told the Albert Lea Tribune they're estimating to get 10,000 orders from her appearance on Shark Tank, so they've planned an order fulfillment party for March 6.
Her Shark Tank appearance comes less than a month after another Minnesotan pitched to the Sharks. St. Paul entrepreneur Wenceslaus "Wen" Muenyi appeared Shark Tank on Feb. 12, showing off his self-cleaning underwear and clothing line called HercLéon.
He didn't get a deal with the Sharks, though, MEAWW said.