How did she do it? A Q&A with Jen Saxton, Founder and CEO of Tot Squad

Lisa Favaro, Managing Director of Golden Seeds

April 11, 2019

Jen Saxton, Founder and CEO of Tot Squad

This entrepreneur’s business school competition led to a thriving startup that aims to help busy parents achieve work-life balance.

Jen Saxton, Founder and CEO of Tot Squad, attended Duke University and Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Early in her career, while working as a management consultant, she noticed a lack of work-life balance, particularly among millennial parents trying to manage a busy career and a growing family. To address this need, Jen created Tot Squad. New moms like Jen struggle to find quality providers that will help them keep their baby safe and ease their mind and body’s adjustment into parenthood. Tot Squad optimizes delivery of perinatal health, wellness and safety services through its omnichannel marketplace of virtual and in-person service pros.

Golden Seeds’ Lisa Favaro discussed with Jen how the company she founded has become a marketplace for baby services.

LF: Tell us about the origins of your company.

LF: What market need are you solving?

Initially, our business plan was around franchising a mobile pop-up service doing baby gear safety checks and cleaning. While participating in the Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses program, I realized Tot Squad could be like the Geek Squad for the baby industry. We now have service centers open inside buybuy Baby stores in 10 markets. Once we started selling our services online with Amazon, we realized we had built a marketplace and could expand into other service categories beyond baby gear to cross sell to the same parents.

LF: What challenges have you encountered along the way? How have you overcome them?

The thing my team says about me is that I’m “relentlessly optimistic,” which is such an important trait for an entrepreneur. When you’re an entrepreneur, so many things can go wrong so often. You must be incredibly resilient because it’s such a challenging career path. You also have to be resourceful and know how to stretch a dollar better than the next guy. You’ve got to know your strengths and be self-aware enough to build a team to complement you.

LF: What’s coming up next for your company? Any big milestones on the horizon?

We just launched on Amazon Home Services a few weeks ago. So with Geek Squad or with Amazon Home Services, it’s bundling a service with a product. That’s what we’re doing in the baby industry. When you buy a car seat at buybuy Baby or on Amazon, we can connect with you with more than 500 car seat techs that we’ve recruited all over the country. We’re matching consumers to a service professional in their community.

We realized very quickly this could evolve into a marketplace for all baby services. If you’re buying a baby gate, you can buy the baby-proofing at the same time. If you buy a nursing bra, we can connect you with a lactation consultant. If you’re buying a baby carrier, we can match you with a baby-wearing specialist. There are so many opportunities to connect moms with vetted service professionals, whether online or in person, as part of the retail purchase. We’re in the early stages of deciding how we’re going to build and grow our marketplace, but we’ve already tackled the hardest part: securing retail distribution up front.

LF: What advice do you have for early-stage founders about raising money, growing a team, fostering company culture or other issues you’ve had to address?

When it comes to company culture, we often say that we take our work really seriously but we don’t take ourselves very seriously.

LF: Tell us about your experience with Golden Seeds. How has the Golden Seeds network been helpful to you?

The other way that Golden Seeds has been so helpful in our success is that, Lisa, having you as a board member has been incredible in helping me navigate resources. My deal with Amazon ultimately came through an introduction from one of my Golden Seeds investors, Lynn Baine. The network is remarkable. The best investors bring far more than dollars to the table; they bring energy, ideas, connections, guidance and perspective. Golden Seeds has delivered on all of those dimensions and continues to support us as we grow.

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