Houston-based mother and daughter team Barbara Heilman and Becca Davison have exciting times ahead since successfully surviving a visit to Shark Tank.
After taking their innovative UnbuckleMe car seat solution to ABC’s hit show, the engaging entrepreneurs landed not one but two investor Sharks—Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner.
Heilman, an occupational therapist and grandmother, and Davison, a mother of two and child passenger safety technician, developed UnbuckleMe to help all caregivers safely and easily unbuckle their kids. Their patented, award-winning tool makes it more than 50% easier to unbuckle a child’s car seat, giving welcome relief to those with arthritis, hand or wrist weakness, and conditions like carpal tunnel or thumb pain.
Becca Davison took time out recently to chat with us about the inside story of UnbuckleMe, including that fateful visit to Shark Tank.
What was the process of getting on to Shark Tank like?
We first auditioned for Shark Tank season 10 in May 2018 at an open call in New York City. We had some follow up, but ultimately didn’t make the cut. We decided to apply again for season 11 in Feb 2019 at an open call in Dallas.
From there, it was seven long months of back and forth working with producers until we taped in Sept 2019, and then we still didn’t know if we would ever air. We finally learned that our episode was going to air in April 2020, so it was a very long (but worthwhile) process! [Editor’s note: The UnbuckleMe episode aired May 6.]
How long were you on the Shark Tank set for, and how much of the filmed footage was aired?
They told us to expect to be “in the tank” between 30 mins and two hours! Our filming was actually pretty quick, as I think we were only there for about 20 minutes, and that was a surprise to the producers. They did a great job editing, and there wasn’t too much that was cut out.
What has been the best part of working together on this business?
I love working on this business with my mom. There’s obviously 100% trust and that’s really important in a business partner. We’ve also been able to learn new sides of each other and see new talents that surface in a business setting that we never got to see in a pure mom/daughter relationship. We complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses, so it’s been a really strong team and a big driver of our success.
What’s next? Have you started working with your Sharks?
We have a lot of exciting plans for the future! There are things we aren’t ready to announce yet, but we have some new product ideas, and new ideas for how to reach families who are struggling with car seat buckles. COVID-19 has certainly presented some challenges, and we’ve had some inventory backlogs due to supply delays in the plastics industry. But we’re lucky to be surrounded by great partners, and everyone is doing their best to manage under these unusual circumstances!
What else would you like our readers to know?
In addition to running UnbuckleMe, I became certified as a Child Passenger Safety Technician and volunteer locally with child injury prevention teams in Houston to help families learn how to install their car seats correctly and travel safer with their kids in cars. Both mom and I also support the Arthritis Foundation in Houston, since arthritis awareness is important to them, and the reason why UnbuckleMe exists.
Cover photo courtesy UnbuckleMe
Julie Tereshchuk is the Editor-in-Chief of Texas Lifestyle Magazine.