Todd Pliss has a unique staffing agency, Rent a Grandma. When Todd worked as a tutor to young entertainers (e.g., the Jonas Brothers), he heard parents complaining about the difficulty of finding a babysitter. College students and teens simply were not that reliable. Todd wondered, “Why not pair older ladies who raised children with those families?” He advertised for candidates, interviewed them, did background checks, and created Rent-A-Grandma. The business was flourishing, and he wanted to have franchises throughout the whole country.

He demonstrated the situation with a teen sprawled across a sofa texting and a grandma who was interested in the children. She even made cookies that she passed to the sharks. He had 50 grandmas in Los Angeles and was getting calls from around the country.

He did not get a deal. Interestingly, Mark’s objection was that he did not want to be associated with any Grandma-related business.

Todd revised his initial goal of franchising the business. Instead, his website now works in a manner similar to Angie’s List. Families visit the site and browse through the grandmas available in their area. Potential grandmas pay a small, one-time fee to be listed on the site. Todd still does background checks. Rent-a-Grandma is now used worldwide. The brand continues to grow, filling a niche in the market for domestic help and providing jobs for older ladies who might otherwise have aged out of the workforce.

Update: The Rent-A-Grandma website is currently not available. The company may be out of business.

Shark Tank Air Date: 3/9/2012 – Season 3 – Episode 8




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