Roominate, a line of building toys for girls, pitched their product in season 6 of Shark Tank. After understanding the rationale behind developing the product and sales metrics, Shark Tank investors Mark Cuban & Lori Greiner invested in Roominate. In episode 706 of season 7, Roominate had an update segment.
In this piece, I will run you through everything there is to know about Roominate — what exactly is Roominate, Roominate’s Shark Tank Pitch & Deal, Roominate’s update after Shark Tank, and Roominate’s current position in the market.
What is Roominate?
Roominate was designed with one simple objective: to get girls interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math from an early age. To do this, the two founders, Alice Brooks and Bettina Chen, both of whom got Degrees in Engineering from Stanford, decided to use the medium of toys.
Roominate is a do-it-yourself dollhouse kit, with the key differentiator being that girls are given the opportunity to build their dollhouses instead of being given readymade ones. Using Roominate, young girls aged 6 to 10 can design their own dollhouses having working elevators, fans, and lights.
The founders of Roominate decided to employ toys as a medium to nudge girls toward STEM because they believed their own childhood toys influenced their career choice. During Alice’s childhood, she asked her father for a barbie house for christmas, but her dad gave her a saw instead, which she used to make her own doll. On similar lines, Bettina played with Legos in her formative years. What struck a chord with Alice and Bettina were that they were the only two girls in engineering in Stanford, and both of them had gotten interested in building stuff at an early age in a similar fashion due to their exposure to it.
Before the two founders went to Shark Tank to raise money, they had already done $1.7 million in sales. They had also raised $86,000 through a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign & $850,000 at a valuation of six million before Shark Tank.
During the course of its existence, Roominate’s unique idea also led it to winning numerous awards like Dr. Toy 100 Best Toys, Academics’ Choice Brain Toy, Parents’ Choice Gold, Portfolio Platinum Award 2013, and many more.
Roominate Shark Tank Pitch & Deal ( Season 6 )
When Alicia & Bettina entered the Shark Tank room, they wanted to raise $500k in exchange for 5% of the business. They highlighted that their mission is empower the next generation of female entrepreneur and innovators.
After that, they immediately struck a chord with Barbara and Lori by taking them back to their childhood. They asked Barbara how cool it would have if instead of making a real estate deal in a board game, she would have been able to build a high rise. Similarly for Lori, they asked her what if instead of drawing an idea with a crayon, she would have been able to build a prototype.
After this introduction, they introduced Roominate as a wired building system for girls aged 6 and up, and showed the sharks a demo of how it works. Barbara was curious to learn how it differs from Legos, and they replied it inspires unstructured open-ended play.
After the sharks are informed they have done $1.7 million in sales until then, they ask the channels Roominate is leveraging. The founders inform the sharks that up until then, Roominate was focused on online sales but the founders also highlight that they have upcoming deals with major retailers like Toys R Us and Radio Shack stores and other major ones.
On learning this, Mark says they’ll have to sell through at these retailer or they will go out of business, and Mister Wonderful agrees with Mark. Since Mister Wonderful doesn’t agree with the proposed valuation, he says he is out. Barbara also pulls out because she believes the product is not doing a good enough job of communicating the fact that it is hyper targeted to girls.
Despite Mark’s initial apprehensions regarding store sales, he offers $500k in exchange for 5% but only on the condition that the Roominate founders mentor his girls. Lori also proposes to join Mark, and he agrees. Robert says he was interested but Mark has already offered them a good deal.
What Happened to Roominate After Shark Tank ( Season 7 Update & Acquisition )
In Shark Tank season 7, episode 706, Roominate had a small update segment. A year after raising money from Mark and Lori, they had got their products placed in 800 Walmart stores. The deal alone was supposed to increase their sales by millions.
Even excluding the sales that were expected to flow from the Walmart deal, Roominate has already done $4.5 million in sales. They had also hired 8 employees to work in Roominate’s own office and launched a Roominate app along with introducing a new technology called “RPower”, which allows kids to program and control creations from the Roominate app itself.
Roominate was acquired in Jan 2016, by a company called Patch Products for an undisclosed amount. The acquirer, Patch Products, later changed Roominate’s name to Playmonster.