The Smart Baker came into being when Daniel Rensing saw his wife Stephanie struggle with the conversion of ingredients to scale down recipes while baking for the two of them at home. His response to this particular problem was obvious yet one that had not been thought of before.
He sewed a cheat sheet of measurements on an apron upside down so that his wife would not have to pause and look up the measurements on a phone or computer.
His wife loved the apron and insisted that it should be put up for sale. The Cheat Sheet Apron, as it was coined, was then listed on Etsy. They both realized the potential of their product and how it was going to help home bakers with a common problem they encounter.
The Cheat Sheet Apron is just one of the products provided by The Smart Baker as their range of products also includes reusable plastic cupcake towers and pre-cut baking parchments.
The cupcake towers are made out of plastic as opposed to the cardboard ones that can only be used once. The material ensures that the stand is sturdy and can be used multiple times. The biggest selling point of the cupcake towers is its modular design, which means that it can be assembled with as many tiers as the occasion calls for. The stand also folds flat which makes it easy to store.
The baking parchment, named the Perfect Parchment, by the company claims to have the perfect size for common baking pans and trays. The bakers no longer have to worry about cutting the parchment and throwing away the waste. A unique feature of the parchment is also its tabs which help the baker to easily lift their baked goods out of the pan.
Due to the simple solutions provided to their target audience, The Smart Baker is still thriving as a business. According to a Business Insider article in 2015, the company was making around a million dollars in sales. These figures would almost certainly have shot up due to the rise in home baking during the COVID-19 pandemic.
How Did the Shark Tank Pitch go?
Stephanie and Daniel Rensing were confident in their pitch and managed to clearly communicate the unique selling points of their products. They put forward a proposition of 25% equity in their company in exchange for $75,000.
The Sharks were intrigued and clearly acknowledged the ingenuity of the products. The murmurs of appreciation at the upside down measurement chart on the apron and the lift tabs on the parchment paper solidified their interest in the products.
Further queries revealed that Stephanie Rensing had just been laid off from her job as an elementary school art teacher, raising the stake of the pitch even further. The calm and confident demeanor of the couple now showed an undercurrent of apprehension.
The interest initially shown by the Sharks did not translate into lucrative offers, mostly due to their inexperience in the baking industry. Mark Cuban declined to make an offer as he was not interested in retail. Kevin O’Leary and Robert Herjavec also pulled out of any negotiations citing their lack of experience with baking and the margins being low.
There was, however, an intense showdown between Daymond John and Barbara Corcoran as they sought a partnership with the couple. Corcoran felt best suited for a partnership due to her experience with a baking business called Daisy Cakes.
She offered them $75,000 with a 40% stake in the company and 5% royalty. John was also keen on joining the couple as business partners as he offered them $75,000 for a 40% stake in the company.
There was a back and forth between the two Sharks as Corcoran repeatedly reminded that she had a network in the baking industry unlike John. The other Sharks seems clearly amused and enjoyed themselves on the sidelines.
Daniel Rensing countered Corcoran’s offer with a proposition of $100,000 for 40% of the business. Crocoran instantly refused and the couple were taken aback. Stephanie Rensing then asked if the previous offer was still on the table. The couple ended up taking Corcoran’s original offer.
Our Review of The Smart Baker
The Smart Baker provides a range of products specifically designed to provide solutions to baking problems. They currently provide three different products, all of which target separate problems.
The Cheat Sheet Apron solves the problem with scaling the recipes up and down with measurements. The Perfect Parchment eliminates the need to cut parchment and reduces waste. The Cupcake Tower provides a sustainable and customizable twist on regular cardboard cupcake stands.
The products are well designed and have their advantages, but customers have pointed out certain problems as well.
Pros of The Smart Baker
- The measurements are sewn on the apron upside down, ensuring ease of access for the baker.
- The plastic material for the cupcake towers makes it sturdy as compared to its cardboard counterparts.
- The cupcake towers can include as many tiers as the user wants, making it usable for a range of occasions.
- The Cupcake Towers fold flat when not in use.
- The tabs on the parchment eliminates the need to flip the pans upside down.
- There is no unneeded waste of baking parchment.
- The business offers the parts for the cupcake towers in case you misplace any. This ensures longevity rather than replacing it.
- All the products can be customized according to the customer’s needs.
Cons of The Smart Baker
- Some customers have complained about thequality of the parchment papers claiming them to be too thin and greasy.
- As they are a completely online business, thecustomers are concerned by the high shipping cost.
- The plastic used for the cupcake tower is thinand not
Who Is It for?
The Smart Baker products can be used by anyone who prepares baked goods. Stephanie Rensing specified the target audience as home bakers in her Shark Tank pitch, citing issues with scaling down recipes that she found on the internet.
Are There Any Alternatives?
A great alternative to The Smart Baker’s pre-cut parchment paper is a silicone baking mat. These mats are reusable which makes it a better product with more value for money.
There are also various options available for customers who are looking for reusable cupcake towers. These range from high end to cheap counterfeit ones.
The Smart Baker is a smart business that identified a market gap and designed products to fill it. The Cheat Sheet Apron is especially a novel yet simple idea that makes life a lot easier for bakers.
Daymond John and Barbara Corcoran saw the potential and went head to head to gain equity in the business. Despite the couple accepting Corcoran’s offer, they walked away from it later. This turned out to be the correct decision as the business now rakes in far more than their original projected sales and the couple are in complete ownership of their business.
The Smart Baker can further expand their business by offering more products to home bakers. Market research and shrewd planning can propel them forward in an industry that is booming like never before.