Season 5 finale of Shark Tank saw an innovative invention that catered to children. The founders, Dr. Sylvie Shapiro and Nicole Brooks raised a pitch for their app, Foot Fairy. Shapiro is a podiatrist and Brooks is a family therapist. The two friends oscillate between work and family and constantly look for ways to make parenting as easy as possible. This is exactly what led to the invention of the Foot Fairy.
What is Foot Fairy?
Foot Fairy is an app that properly measures a child’s foot size. This eradicates the need for parents to take their children to the store and then have the kids fuss about trying on different shoes. This also eliminates the hassle of parents guessing what the child’s shoe size could be, resulting in shoes that are too loose or too tight. Dr. Sylvie believes wrong-sized shoes for children could lead to a host of foot problems among children, which she witnessed in her profession.
The idea was to make shoe shopping for children more convenient, and allow parents to shift to online shopping. Foot Fairy app comes with a set of instructions. Instead of standing on the iPad, place your child’s right foot against the screen while the child’s sitting. Make sure the heel is on the heel line. The foot should be flat, and the toes should be pressed against the screen. Wait till you hear a chime. A message saying ‘scan complete’ will appear. That’s when you’re done. Parents then have an option of being redirected to a pre-populated web page by Zappo’s, which is an online shoe store. This page will display the shoes in your child’s size.
The founders of Foot Fairy appear on Shark Tank seeking an investment of $75,000 for 15% equity. Dr. Shapiro demonstrates how to use the Foot Fairy app with the help of her daughter, Sienna. They pitch that they need funds to advance their back-end infrastructure, and to store emails from clients for better customer retention. Nicole explains that while the app is free, they are in partnership with Zappo’s, from where they receive around 8% to 18% of commission on the cost and brand of shoes purchased via their app.
The app already has 13,144 downloads, even though it was launched just 3 weeks before this Shark Tank episode. Robert wants to know if they received a royalty check from Zappo’s. To their utter shock, the founders inform them that they haven’t gotten any money yet. The sharks are impressed by the high click-through rate of 18%. But a glitch in their system linking their app to the Zappo’s webpage has led them to miss out on valuable money and clicks. This is why they haven’t received a royalty check to date.
Lori maintains that this click-through rate is still very impressive and asks if Zappo’s advertises their app. Nicole says they don’t need any advertisement due to the app’s necessity. She goes on to state how a one-time investment of $2500 earned them 13000 downloads, that too in 3 weeks, so it looks pretty good. Kevin, who has been quiet this whole time, is concerned about the fact that the moms do not have any proprietorship software that would hinder others from imitating this app. When Sylvie says they are the proprietors, the moms, Kevin seems even more unimpressed. He fires back that bigger shoe companies could steal their idea and even do it at a lower cost, wiping out Foot Fairy. He flatly refuses to make any deal.
Even though Lori admires their exuberance, she believes the moms are still at a very nascent stage of business, so she, too backs out. Robert is still concerned why Foot Fairy was not advertised on Zappo’s. Upon further questioning, Sylvie and Nicole revealed that they just put together a random technology team to make this software. He says anyone could do that and emulate the idea, so he backs out too. Barbara says enthusiasm alone cannot guarantee success, so she is the fourth shark to back out. The only shark left, Mark Cuban, asks Sylvie a tough question. He is not impressed by her answer, and says if she backs her argument with ‘passion’, he will back out too. Mark is keen to know what sets Foot Fairy apart from other similar applications. Since Mark owns a company by the name of ‘Fashion Metrics’, he is personally invested in the idea. Although he thinks the moms will waste his money, Sylvie promises they would conduct themselves property under him, and take his guidance as a seasoned entrepreneur.
Mark then makes a shocking offer of $100,000 for 40% equity, but with contingencies. He says he would have to check their contracts with the technology team, see other comparable apps, and test the software himself. The two moms talk for a moment, and agree to his offer, leaving the remaining sharks surprised.
In 2018, the Foot Fairy app was still available on the App store but it did not have the kind of advertising it did prior to appearing on Shark Tank. Their Facebook page has just around 1500 and more likes, and their last update was back in 2014.This indicates that competitors probably came up with better products since then. Nothing came of the deal between the shark and Foot Fairy. As of 2022, Foot Fairy has ceased to exist.
Our Review of Foot Fairy
Foot Fairy had scope as children often throw tantrums when it comes to trying out shoes at the store. They hate shopping, and this app would save moms a whole lot of time. They can simply measure their child’s shoe size, and order a shoe online. It is convenient, but the fact that the founders had no proprietorship is very concerning. While the idea is great, it is only backed by passion and no grounds in reality. The idea could easily be replicated, and that’s exactly what probably did happen to Foot Fairy.
Pros of Foot Fairy
- Convenient for parents of young children
- Accurate shoe size that is completely computerized, requiring no human labor
- Evades the risk of children experiencing foot problems due to wearing incorrect shoe sizes as a result of the mom’s guesswork
Cons of Foot Fairy
- Only available on the Apple app store
- No special features setting it apart from other apps
Who is Foot Fairy for?
Foot Fairy app is made for parents of young children. Kids might refuse to have their shoe size taken at a shop, making the whole process cumbersome. You can take their shoe size right from the comfort of your home, place an online order and even find shoes of their size on Zappo’s.
Are There Any Alternatives?
There are quite a few similar apps. The best among them is the RiteFite App, which allows parents to measure their child’s shoe size at home. The app takes it one step further, and even allows users to virtually try on various shoes and buy them directly from StrideRite.com.
Our Final Thoughts
Foot Fairy had a good idea, but as the sharks predicted, it could easily be emulated. It provides parents the convenience of measuring their child’s shoe size at home and even find shoe designs in that size. This makes shopping for children easier, and also mitigates the risk of foot problems among children as a result of wearing incorrect shoe sizes. As of now, there are better apps that provide this exact function.