The Power of Believing in a Small Starting Idea and Growing It Outwards
While Jennifer Beall Saxton was working towards her MBA at Northwestern University, she was tasked with creating a practical business solution that catered to busy working parents. She thought about the hassles and challenges each new parent faced when it came to cleaning, installing and repairing baby gear such as strollers or car seats and quickly realized that there wasn’t an option in the marketplace that parents could easily turn to. Saxton drew together a preliminary business plan centered around the idea and ended up winning the Kellogg Cup Business Plan Competition and was recognized as the Student of the Year in Entrepreneurship.
After Northwestern, seeing true potential in the idea and plan, Saxton sought out investors and founded her company, Tot Squad in 2010 – originally named CleanBeeBaby. When Saxton started the company, she was working full-time and used her weekends and evenings to focus on the concept, driving around in one van to clean vomit off car seats in 100 degree weather. Now, only eight years later, Tot Squad has partnered with some of the biggest names in the baby retail industry like Babies “R” Us, Buy Buy Baby, Destination Maternity and grocery giant, Whole Foods, to bring its mobile fleet to retailers daily so parents nationwide can easily access its services.
“I wanted to create a concept that moms and dads could rely on and trust, and this is what Tot Squad embodies. I want to build out the brand to be a global brand and franchising – bringing on others who are equally passionate about helping parents in local communities – is so exciting to me” says Saxton. “Looking back, I had to believe in my idea and trust my gut, and I’m so happy I did or else I wouldn’t have gotten to this point.”
Tot Squad is a leader in the installation and maintenance of baby gear, and by partnering with big box retailers, it’s helped to propel brand awareness and increase access to the concept. The brand expanded into Washington D.C. with its first franchisee, Hayden Little, in 2016 and now has plans to develop into ten new markets over the next few years and continue expanding its partnerships.
“We started by cleaning one baby seat for a mom in a pop-up setting, and now, today, we’re gearing up to launch the grand opening of our very first service center inside of a Buy Buy Baby store. To partner with a huge name in the industry and have a permanent space – it’s something I’ve always dreamed and to have it happening, is extremely rewarding,” said Saxton. “I wouldn’t have found the success I have today if I wasn’t resilient and followed the money. Partnering with investors, being active in the business community, focusing on how you can evolve and better your brand are all key players to growing out your brand.”