Entrepreneurial Potomac Family Making Plunge into ‘Shark Tank’

Entrepreneurial Potomac Family Making Plunge into ‘Shark Tank’

Episode will air on April 7

| Published:

Brian and Jamie Ratner.

Via CertifiKID

The Ratners built a family-focused deal website from an idea at their kitchen table to a $5 million a year business, and will now take on the investors of “Shark Tank” in an episode airing in early April.

Jamie Ratner began Potomac-based CertifiKID in 2010, providing discounted offers for activities and entertainment geared toward children and families through a subscription service. Users receive daily emails with a featured deal and other offers in their area.

The company has worked with more than 5,000 businesses this decade, supplying a platform for added exposure. CertifiKID has 17 employees and operates primarily in the Washington region, but has also expanded to major cities, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

ABC’s “Shark Tank” allows entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas and businesses to a panel of investors. If multiple “sharks” are interested in the idea, they bid against each other for a stake in the entrepreneur’s business.

Ratner’s husband and company president Brian Ratner said the company’s growth into other markets and the relative lack of competition across the country convinced the team to pursue a “Shark Tank” appearance.

“We felt that we had the opportunity to replicate our model more nationwide,” Ratner said. “We did feel that a strategic partnership with one of the sharks to help us expand and replicate our model more quickly and effectively was our primary objective.”

Ratner said the application process was grueling, and there were a lot of unknowns at each stage of taping. The family didn’t find out when their segment would be on television until last week.

Jamie and Brian handled the pitch, though their two children and Jamie’s parents also made guest appearances. Jamie had watched the show many times, but that didn’t prepare her for the appearance.

“I had never been so nervous in my life, when you actually walk down into the tank,” Ratner said. “You have one shot, there’s no do-overs. You have to memorize your lines that you’ve created and I just remember shaking and being so scared.”

The episode will air on April 7. The Ratners are hosting a watch party for friends and family, although Brian said they might not be tuning in.

“Jamie and I may be crouched in a corner with one eye open,” Ratner said. “You’re in there for a long time, but what ultimately gets on the show, God only knows. We hope that we represented ourselves in the business world well.”

Charlie Wright can be reached at charlie.wright@bethesdamagazine.com

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