Brett Guterman and his mother, Barbara. Photo by Liz Lynch

Brett Guterman is 21, a senior at George Washington University, and childless—probably not the person parents would expect to see representing a company that sells stylish diaper bags that unzip into padded changing stations.
“The best way to sort of get around that is simply just for me to get out and talk to people,” says Guterman, a finance major from Potomac. Once customers “understand that I’m not as concerned about selling the product as I am with their issues, they open up to me a little more.”

Guterman and some classmates came up with the idea for the diaper bag when they were tasked in their senior year with developing a marketable product for their capstone program in entrepreneurship at Potomac’s Bullis School. Several were babysitters who had noticed a troubling trend when it came to changing diapers. “Parents had to use dirty changing pads, they had to use towels that they would put on tables and they’d have to put it back into the [diaper] bag—it just got totally disgusting,” Guterman says. The team decided to focus on developing a prototype for a diaper bag that transformed into a changing station.

In 2018, near the end of their senior year, the teammates pitched their product in Bullis’ mock Shark Tank competition, based on the popular reality TV show. They won $10,000 from XML Financial Group, a wealth management firm in Rockville. The team formed a company, Rockabye Backpack Inc., and used the money to pay for initial legal fees and manufacturing costs for the first 50 backpacks.

After the students headed off to different colleges, Guterman bought out his teammates, rebranded the company to OTGbaby (OTG stands for “on the go”) and relaunched in early 2020. His mother, Barbara—who has a background in entrepreneurship and served as one of two mentors in Guterman’s capstone program—became OTGbaby’s president and chief operating officer.

Barbara Guterman says their close relationship makes them stronger business partners. “The other day we had words, and then, like, three minutes later I’m like, ‘OK, honey, how are you doing?’ ” Barbara says. “If you would be upset with a co-worker, it would be something that might linger or stay with you—we just get past it.”

Photo by Liz Lynch

The company—now a six-person team with a four-person advisory board—earned a utility patent for the product in July 2020 amid conducting “hundreds” of phone interviews with moms about what they wanted in a diaper bag. Later that year, the company raised about $17,000 from a Kickstarter campaign, taking advance orders along with donations. The first batch of the bags, which are made by a California company, was delivered to customers in February.

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“We’re selling a bag for active moms on their day trips, running their errands, going to Starbucks, meeting with friends,” Brett says of “The Go Bag,” which is made of vegan leather, unzips into a 36-inch-long changing pad with a 2-inch thick cushion, and has seven pockets. “We just really want to make products for parents that are going to allow them to have worry-free outings with their babies.”

The $149 bags are available on the company’s website (otgbaby.com) and in about 20 stores nationwide, including On Cloud 9 in Potomac and Occasions Gift Store in Potomac and Gaithersburg. Barbara says the company has sold several hundred bags to date.

Taking virtual classes during the pandemic allowed Brett to travel for trade shows, and the company has a permanent space in The Studio at KidsWorld showroom in Dallas.

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“I consider OTGbaby very much so my full-time job and school my part-time job,” he says. He wants to expand OTGbaby, eventually adding accessory products such as bags with different compartments for wet and dry items or a technology pouch.

Brett credits his mother for helping him develop his entrepreneurial zeal. “One thing my mom’s done a great job of instilling in me is that learning is so important,” he says. “You really don’t know what you don’t know.”