Pluie seeks to clean up the way that people change their baby’s diapers in public. The company manufacures the world’s first self-sanitizing diaper changing station. But, will the Sharks see an opportunity to clean up in this dirty, sometimes smelly, business? Read our Pluie Shark Tank Update to find out all about it.
What is Pluie?
Pluie is a company which manufactures a suite of diaper changing tables, including the world’s first self-sanitizing diaper changing table that is powered by a patented UV-C light system to kill 99.9% of germs, bacteria, and viruses. The company is located in Lake Forest, Illinois.
Pluie’s UV-C table is powered by a patent-protected UV-C light system. UV-C light is known to kill 99.9% of germs, bacteria, and viruses including E. Coli, Inﬂuenza and Coronavirus. It is the same UV-C light technology that is widely used today in hospitals to sterilize patient room surfaces. When the table is closed, the UV-C light system is triggered to turn on automatically. The sanitization cycle lasts for 60 seconds and then automatically shuts off. Within 60 seconds, Pluie’s surface is sanitized.
Who created Pluie?
Pluie was founded by two moms, Addie Gundry and Brittany Hizer, who were also accomplished career women. After graduating as President of her class at a private girl’s high school, Addie enrolled in Connecticut College to study English Language and Literature; however, she left college after just two years to enroll in Culinary School. Addie was Valedictorian of her culinary class, which placed her in a 3 Michelin starred restaurant after graduating. For a number of years, she worked in several world-class restaurants, and then she went to work for Martha Stewart. While she was working for Martha Stewart, she also went back to college at NYU and completed a degree in Organizational Behavioural Studies.
Brittany Hizer began her higher education at Depauw University in her home state of Indiana, and then she went on to Northwestern University, where she earned an MBA. Prior to co-founding Pluie, Brittany spent 15 years as an industrial designer, working on products in the fitness industry, such as premium treadmills, cross-trainers, and exercise bikes found in health clubs and fitness centers. Brittany was also the first female president of a fishing boat business, Crestliner Boats.
How did Pluie get started?
Co-founder Addie Gundry got the idea for Pluie one day while she was out with her husband and her 10-month old son. Addie told Chicago Parent, that when her 10-month-old son Cooper had a diaper blowout at a Chicago restaurant, she was horrified at the experience of changing him in a public restroom on an old, unsanitary, and uncomfortable changing table. After sucking it up and returning to her meal, Addie said to her husband “I think I can make a better one.”
The restaurant diaper blowout was Addie’s first experience like this outside of her home, and when this occurred, both she and her husband realized that a plastic changing table was just not really a safe place to put your baby. Addie thought that a baby could fall off the tables, as the security straps are often broken or stuck behind the wall panel, and of course, the tables were, most often, simply not clean.
Addie decided to conduct some research about baby changing tables, and she talked to 650 parents across the country, and she learned that other parents also believed that changing tables just didn’t feel clean. Many people said that they would rather leave the store or restaurant and change the baby in the car.
Addie and her husband worked on product research for several years while Addie was still working in the food industry, but she says that after she had her second child, her daughter, on a Friday, she started raising money for Pluie on the following Tuesday. During the six weeks of her maternity leave, Addie had raised $650k.
What happened to Pluie before Shark Tank?
Shortly after Pluie inventor Addie Gundry had raised $500k from family and friends to get Pluie off of the ground, she was introduced to her co-founder Brittany Hizer. Addie had realized pretty quickly that she now had a good idea and some money, but she would need some help if she wanted to get through the prototype stage and start to manufacture Pluie.
Brittany was a perfect fit, as she was not only a mom and a successful businessperson, but she was also an accomplished product designer. With Brittany onboard, Pluie launched in October 2020, and they installed the first Pluie in February of 2021.
During their pitch in the Tank, Addie told the Sharks that they had installed a total of 300 changing tables, mostly in large national companies, including Costco, CVS, Old Navy, LegoLand Theme Park and others. They had placed Pluie changing tables in around 115 locations, with an average of 2-3 per location.
Addie and Brittany let the Sharks know that they had decided to come into the Tank because they were confident in their product and that they would continue to increase sales, but they knew that a Shark could really help them to accelerate the process.
What do customers think of Pluie?
Generally, we aim to find third-party sites with customer reviews for Shark Tank products; however, with a product like Pluie’s diaper changing stations, which is sold business to business, this is a bit more difficult; thus, after not finding any third-party reviews, we decided to offer a few comments from Pluie business-to-business clients which we found on the Pluie website.
What are customers saying about Pluie?
On the Pluie website, we found some very positive feedback from business clients. First, John des Rosiers, of JDR Restaurant Group, wrote about the Pluie diaper changing stations in their Everett Farms and The Station restaurant locations: “Pluie not only has created a new level of safe and sanitary changing stations, they have created the only one beautiful enough to be installed at our flagship locations. We believe it creates a new standard.”
Greg Bradley, General Manager of the Graduate Hotel Nashville, said of Pluie, “We’re always looking for ways to elevate the Graduate Nashville experience with one-of-a-kind amenities that allow guests to enjoy each moment that they spend with us. Pluie has empowered our teams to deliver an incredibly well designed, seamless offering for parents and children visiting our hotel. We’re constantly hearing rave reviews from guests.”
Finally, Jerry Isikoff, CEO of Angel Harvey Family Health, commented, “Besides the health benefits to infants, parents have been overjoyed with this new diaper changing table. It has been a total relief to them to know they are putting their infants on a germ-free changing station. The installation was simple and Addie was a pleasure to work with to get this done.”
When did Pluie appear on Shark Tank?
Pluie appeared on Shark Tank in Season 14, Episode 16, of Shark Tank, which originally aired on March 10th, 2023. The company pitched to regular Sharks Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, Kevin O’Leary, Daymond John, and Robert Herjavec.
Interestingly, Pluie was not the only diaper-related product to appear in the Tank during Season 14. Check out our Kudos Diapers Shark Tank Update for another take on the age-old problem of dirty diapers.
What happened to Pluie on Shark Tank?
Pluie co-founders Addie Gundry and Brittany Hizer entered the Tank and asked the Sharks for a $500k investment in return for 5% of their company.
Addie and Brittany walked into the Tank, with Brittany telling the Sharks, “Sharks, as moms, we love to take our kids out into the world with us, but having little ones in diapers presents a decade’s old problem: public diaper-changing tables are disgusting!”
Addie next described an experience which had happened to her a few years earlier, when she said that her son had a “dreaded diaper blowout, and there was no place to change his diaper but on a rock-hard, plastic, just gross, changing table.” She then demonstrated, with a traditional changing table on the set, the lack of anywhere clean to put her supplies, and how she had to bend down, over and over again, just to reach things in her bag, which was, all the while, sitting on a dirty bathroom floor.
Addie said that during this experience, she thought to herself, ‘What germs are festering? When was this table last sanitized?’ And then, she recalled for the Sharks, she had said out loud, “Forget this, I can make a better one!”
Next, Addie and Brittany rolled away the traditional diaper changing table to reveal Pluie, the world’s first and only self-sanitizing diaper changing table. Addie added that Pluie’s patented UVC light system sanitized the entire surface of the table, eliminating 99.9% of germs and viruses, in just 60 seconds. The Pluie team also demonstrated that their new take on the diaper-changing table had sturdy features which helped to keep diaper supplies secure and clean, off of the bathroom floor.
The Sharks looked fairly impressed by the pitch, and Kevin O’Leary commented first, saying, “You know. This is a business-to-business play.” Addie addressed Mr. Wonderful and told him that they had just made their first airport installation at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, in Mark Cuban’s backyard. She also informed the Sharks that they had installed changing tables in 11 large national accounts, including CVS, Old Navy, Costco, Hart Golf, and several high-end hotel groups.
Mark Cuban wanted to know how many tables they had sold, and Addie told him that they had placed about 300 tables in 115 different locations, averaging 2-3 tables per location. Cuban quickly followed up asking for the retail price, and he learned that the tables sold for $2699, and the UV version cost them $1312 to manufacture.
Kevin O’Leary spoke up again, and he said that he believed the need to install an electrical outlet for the Pluie could make it an expensive replacement for a traditional changing table, but Brittany informed him that neither the electric install, nor the price point, had been a barrier to sales so far.
Lori Greiner next asked Brittany about her background, and she learned that Brittany had worked for 15 years as an industrial designer, working with commercial fitness equipment, and that she had also been the first female president of a major fish boat manufacturing company. Brittany then told Lori that a friend had said that as a new mom, she should meet Addie, who had a great idea for a new product.
Addie then told the Sharks that she had quit college after just two years to enroll in culinary school, and she was very successful in culinary school, landing in a Michelin-starred restaurant. After a number of years working in ultra-fine dining, she took a job with Martha Stewart, and while working there, she also went back to college and completed a degree at NYU.
Addie also revealed to the Sharks that after she had her first child, she became very interested in creating a new diaper-changing station, and in 2019, she filed for a utility patent. Then, after she had her second child, she raised the first $650k to start the business during six weeks of maternity leave, raising all of the money from friends and family.
Kevin O’Leary wanted to know if they had raised additional money since the $650k, and he learned that in 2021, they had a second round of fundraising, bringing in another $1 million, and just before coming into the Tank, they had a third round of investment, raising an additional $2 million.
The Sharks learned that the early money was raised at a much higher valuation than they were asking from the Sharks, but Addie said that all of the previous investors knew that they wanted to attract a Shark in order to accelerate the company’s growth.
Mark spoke up again to ask how much money the company still had in the bank, and he was told that they had $1.4 million. Robert next inquired about current revenue, and he discovered that they had $500k worth of orders waiting to be installed, but they had only booked $150k in revenues so far. Mr. Wonderful jumped into this line of questioning to find out how much money the company had lost, and he learned that Pluie had lost $1 million during the previous year, and would lose about $500k for the current year.
After learning about both the amount of capital raised by Pluie, and their current and projected revenues, the Sharks looked ready to declare their intentions.
Did Pluie get a deal on Shark Tank?
Unfortunately, Pluie did not successfully get a deal in the Tank.
Kevin O’Leary was the first Shark to swim away, and even with their discounted valuation for a Shark, he felt that the business was very overvalued at a valuation of $10 million. He told Addie and Brittany that they were “basically pre-revenue.”
Daymond John next complimented the Pluie team, calling them, “real operators,” but he felt that retailers could be worried about a recession and may well be looking to cut expenses in an uncertain retail environment. Robert followed Daymond to the exit, as he said that while he could see that users would love the product, the business owners would be very skeptical about buying something for 5-6 times the cost of the alternative, which fulfills the basic requirements that these companies have to meet.
Mark Cuban couldn’t get his head around the fact that the large companies who had already installed the product were not ordering more, and Lori Greiner piped up to say, “It’s because they don’t have to. They already have a solution.” Mark finally decided to go out, which left only Lori Greiner still in the game.
Lori told Addie and Brittany that she really admired them and that they had produced a great product, but she felt that it would be perceived as a premium, high-end item, as the price point was too high for it to spread quickly to a wider market.
While all of the Sharks agreed that the co-founders were impressive and had produced a useful product, they were unable to get over both the high valuation for investment and the high price point of the product.
Pluie Shark Tank Update, what happened next?
While Pluie did not manage to land a Shark in the Tank, according to a report in Indiana Business, just before the Pluie Shark Tank episode aired on ABC, the company learned that they had been awarded their largest single contract to date for the installation of more than 40 changing tables in the men’s, women’s, and family restrooms throughout the Indianapolis International Airport; these new tables were to be in addition to the ones already located within the Nursing Mothers Lounges.
At the time the Pluie team pitched in the Tank, they had only installed Pluie changing tables in one airport, but by the time their pitch aired, the company already had installations in four airports, Indianapolis, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, St. Louis Lambert International Airport, and Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.
The company has also continued to expand their reach in other sectors, as they now have Pluie changing tables in other major facilities in more than 20 states, including the Indianapolis Zoo, the Fashion Mall in Indy, Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, and Legoland in Florida.
Finally, Pluie has also introduced a consumer product, the Pluie Pret Changing Clutch, which according to the company website, is a compact, stylish, and machine-washable diaper-changing mat for modern parents and caregivers who expect the best while on the go. With a contemporary mom-inspired design using handcrafted neoprene-like material, Pret is soft, durable, and easily cared for, providing your baby a cleaner and more comfortable changing experience than other mats on the market.
While the business-to-business sector often offers slower growth, especially for those involved in products for public locations such as airports and stadiums, once a product gets traction, large multiples can be ordered quickly, so Pluie may just find itself with the growth they were seeking to achieve, even without a Shark amongst all of those babies who need changing!