What Really Came Of SlumberPod From Shark Tank?

The popular business reality series "Shark Tank" features no shortage of innovative products, especially when it comes to items that can help make traveling with babies and toddlers easier. Case in point: Georgia natives Katy Mallory and her mother, Lou Childs, pitched their invention, SlumberPod, on the show, in hopes of scoring a hefty investment from renowned business moguls, Barbara Coran, Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, Robert Herjavec, and Kevin O'Leary. The mother-daughter duo had high hopes for SlumberPod, which functions as a sleeping solution for babies and toddlers to give them privacy when they're snoozing. It's technically a blackout tent that goes over the child's existing crib or bassinet, resulting in a darker, more private environment.

According to Mallory, she came up with the idea when she traveled to Childs' place over the holidays with her eldest daughter and husband, and all of them had to share a room. At the time, the room had no adequate lighting treatments, so her daughter kept waking up and wanting to be with her parents instead of staying in her own bed. That led to both Mallory and her husband getting sleep-deprived, to the point that they decided to go home a day early. As a result, SlumberPod came to fruition.

How did SlumberPod fare on Shark Tank?

Katy Mallory and Lou Childs secured the "biggest sale ever made in pajamas" on "Shark Tank," according to Mark Cuban. The co-founders did a whole product demo before the Sharks, with special participation by an actual SlumberPod customer. There was initial skepticism because the product looked complicated to set up, but the duo assured that it takes no longer than two minutes and can be collapsed into a contraption that can fit carry-on luggage. The Sharks were also impressed when the two revealed that they reached over $550,000 in sales upon their initial launch.

As for offers, Lori Greiner said she was out, not because she didn't believe in the duo and the product, but because she thought they could thrive by continuing what they were doing. Cuban agreed and was also out, along with Robert Herjavec. Barbara Corcoran shared the same sentiment and relayed an anecdote that she was once offered $250,000 for her business back in the day, only to receive a heftier offer of $66 million five years later. She still offered them $400,000 for a 25% stake though, which Kevin O'Leary countered as it was "greedy," and offered Mallory and Childs $400,000 as a loan with 9% interest and 7% stake.

The co-founders then decided to counter Corcoran's offer and asked for $400,000 for a 20% stake, which she accepted. They also said that apart from the money, they sought out more business connections and advice for scaling.

The SlumberPod founders didn't end up making a deal with Barbara Corcoran

In an interview posted on the SlumberPod blog, Lou Childs couldn't help but express gratitude to Barbara Corcoran for believing in them and giving them a chance. "We are incredibly grateful that Barbara decided to make a deal with us for our initial ask, because, in her words, we were so nice," she dished. "She even whispered in my ear as we were hugging at the end saying, 'I am very impressed with your daughter, and you've done an incredible job raising her. And I bet all of your children are as impressive.' At which I truthfully replied ... 'thank you so much, and yes, they are!'"

Speaking with Georgia Trend, she said that they were looking to use the money from Corcoran to beef up their inventory and perhaps introduce more colors as well. However, they ended up keeping their equity as they were already thriving as a business and no longer needed outside help.

"Barbara was impressed by our business know-how and sales, but after the show, her team decided they really wanted us to be carried in physical stores (e.g., Target, Wal-Mart)," Katy Mallory said in an interview with Authority Magazine. "Fortunately for us, we were already profitable at that point and weren't desperate for the money, so it worked out well to keep the equity. Of course, we are forever grateful for the exposure and still very honored to be Shark Tank alums."

SlumberPod continues to thrive to this day

SlumberPod is still operational as of this writing, with Katy Mallory sharing on Instagram that after their appearance on "Shark Tank," they had their first full year in business and garnered $2 million in sales, and "helped over 150,000 families sleep better." Lou Childs admitted, though, that it hasn't always been smooth sailing, as they still faced challenges, especially when it came to fulfilling orders. The good news is they found another mentor to guide them in navigating it all. "One of our biggest struggles is supply chain and inventory. We have a valuable partner with Jeff Vinson of Muscogee Mills and Ridgeway Outdoors. He helps us to make inventory projections based on past sales and growth momentum," she told Southern Views Magazine. "We have only run out of inventory a couple of times in the past 18 months— even when our growth spiked at the end of 2019 and post-Shark Tank. It definitely takes a village to make a business run smoothly." 

Fast forward to 2021, the SlumberPod founders were finally able to secure a utility patent for their product, effectively weeding out imitations on the market. Per Mallory, they continue to receive encouragement from parents who found their product effective. "People feel like they're liberated to travel or even share a room if they have family visiting and they don't have to worry anymore," she shared with WTVM.

SlumberPod ended up in Target, after all

In the same year as they got their patent, SlumberPod announced on their socials that its products are available for purchase on Target.com, which just indicates that the company continues to grow and thrive. In 2023, the company revealed that SlumberPod products will be made available at physical locations of Target, too. "With a commitment to providing families with creative baby and toddler essentials, SlumberPod's entry into Target is a step toward growth, and we are eager to make our products available to even more parents across the country," Katy Mallory said in a press release.

SlumberPod has since expanded its offerings and now sells tents for pets. But in the future, Mallory said that they're looking to cater to more people instead of just toddlers and pets. "We want to take this a few steps further by creating sleep and baby care products that cater to additional age ranges," she told Authority Magazine. "We are all better people when we are well-rested; that goes for the littlest babies all the way to grandparents."