The Happy Mat by ezpz

happy matLindsey Laurain created the Happy Mat for one simple reason: toddlers are complete slobs! Anyone who ever had to feed a 1-4 year old knows sometimes more than half the food on the plate ends up somewhere other than the child's mouth. She hopes the Sharks see how useful the product is when she pitches it in Shark Tank episode 715.

When Laurain set out to create the Happy Mat, and her company – ezpz, she went to Kickstarter for seed money. After raising over $72K, which more than doubled her $35K goal, she did her first major production run of the Happy Mat. The product is a food-grade, silicon mat with a smiley face “plate” embedded in it. The mat sticks to solid surfaces and the smiley face contains different compartments for food items.

While using the Happy Mat doesn't guarantee a totally mess-free meal time, it does eliminate dropped (or thrown) plates and some tabletop clean-up. It's dishwasher safe and easy to clean. Additional products include a Happy Bowl, a cup, and the Snack Mat, which has a bowl in the center and a rimmed outer plate – it's perfect for veggies or chips and dip.

A Happy Mat will set you back 25 bucks and the other products are 20 bucks each. She's been introducing more colors and products since the Kickstarter ended in late 2014 and all indicators lead me to believe sales are strong. The ABC press release says she “seeks a huge valuation” for the business, so she better have sales to back it up! Laurain is likely looking for a Shark to get her into major retail outlets.

My Take on the Happy Mat

Thankfully, my five children are well beyond the stage for needing a Happy Mat. Back in the day, my son was such a slob when he ate, my father dubbed him “Swinefeld!” We used to put a shower curtain on the floor around his high chair because so much food ended up on the floor!

I don't think this product would solve Swinefeld's issues, but I've personally witnessed hundreds of plates getting knocked on the floor. Keeping a plate stuck to the table would eliminate a lot of messes for parents of new and learning eaters. While I won't be a customer, my wife is doing the baby shower circuit and thinks this would be a good gift. She's given other Shark Tank baby products as gifts in the past (Lollacup and Monkey Mat) and when I showed her this product, she said it would be on her list for the next shower she attends!

Do Sharks Get Off the Mat and Invest?

Baby products are hit or miss in the Shark Tank. They either get blown out of the Tank or wholeheartedly embraced by the Sharks. There have been big success stories with baby products (Lollacup), so the precedent is there for an investment.

The fact that ABC made a point to bring up the “huge valuation” in their press release indicates that it could be a very wild negotiation session. The key to any valuation is backing it up with sales. If the sales are there, the Sharks will be interested, but on their terms, not Ms. Laurain's.

Robert, Lori, and Mark all have baby related products in their Shark Tank portfolios, so if they like the ezpz business model and the numbers, they could make a play. Daymond might sit this out, but Mr. Wonderful could be interested, too. He's made a big deal this season about his “Something Wonderful” platform; he thinks wedding related products are good because people spend money irrationally when they get married. People do the same thing when they have a baby – or at least a lot of people around them do – especially when it's a first child. Perhaps something wonderful could happen with Mr. O'Leary and ezpz.

Regardless of who bids, I think Lindsey will field offers from more than one Shark. The question is, will she budge on her “huge valuation?”

About Rob Merlino

Entrepreneur, auteur, raconteur. Rob Merlino is a blogger and writer who enjoys the Shark Tank TV show and Hot Dogs. A father of five who freelances in a variety of publications, Rob has a stable of websites including Shark Tank Blog, Hot Dog Stories, Rob Merlino.com and more.

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