From running a family blog to becoming a Shark Tank success story, Jamie Ratner and her company CertifiKID have come a long way over the past eight years.
Jamie’s journey to entrepreneurship began when she created a blog for discounted deals and activities for families. After gaining a successful following online, she quit her day job and went full time with what is now known as CertifiKID, a website dedicated to deals for family-fun adventures and services. Jamie currently runs the business with help from her husband, Brian, in Potomac, Md.
While CertifiKID is available in more than 10 major metropolitan markets throughout the country, and while it receives a percentage of every deal sold, Jamie explains the company reached a point where it was struggling to expand. She knew the ABC hit show Shark Tank could be the perfect opportunity to grow the business.
“We have very little competition and I didn’t want to regret not doing it [Shark Tank],” Jamie said. “I knew this could be what we needed to fuel us...I really believed it could do just that.”
After talking it over with her family, Jamie decided to go for it. And in April 2019, CertifiKID’s Shark Tank episode aired nationwide.
After a negotiation with Kevin O’Leary, the Ratner family walked away with a deal: $600,000 for 19 percent equity in the company. And yes, before you ask, the company tells us the experience with Mr. Wonderful himself has been absolutely wonderful.
“The response has been crazy and he [O’Leary] has been great to work with,” said Jamie. “Not only did Shark Tank air, but we were also on The View. There’s been so much traffic…we’ve had so many new customers and tons of new businesses interested in partnering with us.”
Since airing, CertifiKID’s sales have exploded. In April and May of this year, the company generated $1.2 million in sales. For comparison, the company’s first full year of business generated a total of $1 million.
Jamie attributes the company’s success to two major aspects of the business. First, all of the deals are curated by local moms who have a knack for spotting discounted experiences. Second, the platform is known as a reliable resource for families. Moms who have previously used CertifiKID often return to purchase additional deals based on suggestions and reviews from other customers.
“Our platform is really a resource for those saying, ‘what activity am I going to do with my kids this afternoon?’” said Jamie. “We provide information, advice, tips, and reviews…the deal aspect is the cherry on top.”
In Maryland, featured offers include discounts to Jolly Roger Amusement Park (Ocean City), Urban Pirates Family Adventure Cruise (National Harbor), Clark’s Elioak Farm & Hayride (Ellicott City), Chesapeake Beach Water Park, and Walkersville’s Southern Railroad train ride.
But CertifiKID isn’t only marketing local events and attractions to in-state residents—the company is making an impact of the travel and tourism industry, too. On average, 22 percent of purchases made on Maryland packages come from out-of-state, bringing in visitors from Washington, D.C., Virginia, and the surrounding region.
“We’re hyper-focused in the [Mid Atlantic] area, and we’ve really made an impact on bringing out-of-state people into Maryland,” said Jamie.
Not only is CertifiKID benefitting tons of local business by bringing in new customers, but the company is also giving back to the community in a big way. For the second annual year, CertifiKID is helping dozens of families in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Metropolitan areas send their children to summer camp. The company was able to significantly expand its scholarship program this year following its Shark Tank success.
“That’s what is so special about this program; it’s a true community partnership of parents helping other parents,” Jamie said in an earlier release.
Learn more about deals in your region by visiting www.certifikid.com.