Husband-wife duo, Michael and Babz Barnett, conceived the idea of Romp n Roll in 2004. They could not find any quality kids gym classes for their children in their city of Richmond, Virginia. The two parents then decided to create a safe, whimsical place for both parents and children called Romp n Roll. Romp n Roll sets itself apart from other kids gyms by providing several physical, musical and art activities under one roof.
Romp n Roll opened their first location in 2004 providing an array of classes by trained instructors for parents and children. Romp n Roll has grown significantly since then, especially after the Barnetts decided to franchise their concept. They further decided to display their ideas on an international level and granted a master franchise license to an investment group in China. According to Romp n Roll’s website, the company has over 300 indoor playground franchises across US and China.
Romp n Roll looked to improve upon the quality of similar options present in the market. The other indoor playgrounds were either unkempt or did not offer many options for activities or classes. Romp n Roll made sure to provide ever changing activities and even equipment to stand out from their competition.
Romp n Roll is a thriving business and caters to a market that is constantly looking for ways to engage their children. Their model of changing classes and a focus on the physical aspect attracts parents as it provides a new activity to children who are mostly glued to screens.
How Did The Shark Tank Pitch Go?
Michael and Babz Barnett made an appearance in the first season of Shark Tank. They showed immense belief and confidence in their business, even when it led them into a clash of opinions with the Sharks.
The couple asked for $300,000 in return for 10% of their company.
Even from the get go, it was obvious that Robert Herjavec was the one most excited about the business. He giddily asked if he could go to these classes as well and the Barnetts replied that they classes were designed so both parents and children could spend quality time together.
Kevin Harrington got straight to business and inquired how Romp n Roll differed from Gymboree which was an indoor playground at the time. Babz Barnett replied with an analogy involving a cassette player and a MP3 player, implying that Romp n Roll was modern and futuristic, and Gymboree was the past.
It was further revealed that Romp n Roll had ten different locations at that time and two corporate stores. They had begun to franchise their brand and made $1.2 million in revenue.
Kevin O’Leary then got into a discussion about marketing with the couple as he inquired about their customer acquisition techniques. He was shocked to find out that the couple only dedicated 1% of their sales towards marketing as they relied mostly on mommy groups to get the word out. There was a back and forth between O’Leary and Michael Barnett as he tried to defend his business practices. O’Leary then pulled out of negotiations as he believed that the couple had not thought out the business model.
Daymond John then declined to make an offer due to his lack of expertise in this particular market. Kevin Harrington did not see how the business could grow at the rate the couple were aiming for and backed out.
This left Barbara Corcoran and Robert Herjavec. Barbara Corcoran narrated a story about how the Gymboree she used to go to with her child closed down. She was, therefore, apprehensive about investing in such a business and backed out. Michael Barnett replied that their business was different and Corcoran’s experience could not be applied to it.
Herjavec was quite bemused throughout Barnett’s defense. He inquired why the couple were not paying more attention to him since he was the only one still in with an offer. Despite an undercurrent of unease in the negotiations, Herjavec made an offer of $300,000 for 51% of the company. The couple asked for a moment to discuss the offer between themselves.
While the couple were discussing the offer, O’Leary also jumped in on the offer with Herjavec. The couple were not willing to give up that much equity on a business they were clearly passionate about. They gave the Sharks a counteroffer of 20% equity, but Herjavec rejected it stating that the business would be time consuming so he would like to maintain 51% equity. O’Leary did not agree with the couple’s valuation of their business. The couple then rejected the offer and left the show without a deal.
The Barnetts now believe that they made the right decision rejecting the offer. Their immense success in China shows that they were right to believe in the potential of what is now a multimillion dollar business.
Our Review of Romp n Roll
Romp n Roll improves upon the existing indoor gyms simply by increasing the options available. In their Shark Tank pitch, the Barnetts did not claim to be unique from other indoor gyms however they did promise a much more interesting and improved experience.
On their website, Romp n Roll offers classes related to children’s development focusing on aspects such as motor skills and socialization. This shows that the company is looking toward a more holistic development of children rather than just providing stimulating activities.
Pros of Romp n Roll
- Provides classes related to children’s social and mental development along with physical activities
- Provides classes for a bigger range of age groups as compared to other indoor gyms
- Targets the most critical growth stages by offering classes for babies, toddlers, and preschoolersages 3 months through 5 years
- Dedicated classes for parents and children so they can spend quality time together.
- You can book trial classes in order to decide whether to buy a membership
- Evolving curriculum which means there is less repetition in classes
- Staff is trained especially to deal with children
- Customers report that there is extra care taken in regards to cleanliness
Cons of Romp n Roll
- Some customers report that there is a lot of repetition in activities and classes.
- Some reviews reportrude customer services at particular locations.
- Strict rules concerning classes which left some parents inconvenienced.
Overall, most customers have described the classes at Romp n Roll as fun and educational. There have been a few grievances but that too differs from location to location.
Who Is It For?
Romp n Roll is for caretakers of children who want to provide them with a fun and socially nurturing experience. The target audience is restricted to caretakers and parents of children.
Are There Any Alternatives?
There are several indoor playgrounds across the US that promise to provide a fun time for children. Some of these include:
- Splash Zone
- The Big Playhouse
These playgrounds, however, focus mostly on the physical aspect and do not incorporate many educational activities as compared to Romp n Roll.
The major selling point of Romp n Roll is its incorporation of theories of children development in their activities. They also target critical growth stages and interweave the key concepts of child development in fun activities. This sets them apart from other indoor playgrounds and a desirable destination for children and their caretakers.
The Barnetts’ clear passion has led them to build a thriving business that continues to focus on holistic child development.