Earn Entrepreneurship

Mastering the Sharing Economy With Fran Maier

Haley Paskalides  |  March 18, 2024

Fran Maier has always been ahead of the curve in the sharing economy and now she’s created a service for families on the go.

Over the past 10 to 20 years, the sharing economy has taken over: Renting and returning is now our way of life. Think about it: We stay in strangers’ homes with Airbnb and VRBO, we borrow books on Kindle, Zipcars are viable alternatives to owning a car, and we rent a different dress for every wedding or event so we never have to be Instagrammed wearing the same thing twice. 

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But what about renting things for the smallest members of your family? Fran Maier, CEO and founder of BabyQuip, has made that possible. BabyQuip enables traveling families to rent high-quality baby goods, from cribs and toys to car seats whenever they’re on the go. 

Maier is perhaps best known as the co-founder of Match.com, a household name that’s now synonymous with dating. Although she loved her time there, she does have one big regret: “I should have raised the seven or eight million dollars that they sold it for, but I did not have enough confidence and I did not ask for help. On the other hand, had I been a guy, I think somebody would have said, ‘Why don’t you do this and we’ll help you?’,” Maier says. “As it happens, it sold for less than 8 million dollars, and a year later, it sold for ten times as much. I made a couple hundred thousand dollars, but that’s not what I deserved.”

After spending several years in tech, Fran Maier found herself at the center of the sharing economy. She had bought a house in San Francisco down the street from the Airbnb offices and started making serious money renting out rooms to travelers. “I was thinking, ‘How is this changing things?’ And ‘How is this new way people are traveling?’ But things were changing, and change is always the catalyst,” Maier says. “And at the time, I was advising at Women’s Startup Lab, where I met a gal who started a baby gear rental company in Santa Fe. She gave me her pitch and I said, ‘I should be your CEO.’ So we formed the company.”

While the co-founder of Babyquip left soon after, Maier rebranded and brought the idea to Shark Tank with her son — with a live donkey. “We brought a donkey on stage so we could say, ‘You’d need a donkey to carry all this baby gear with you when you travel.’ And it worked,” Maier says. “It came down to us and Mr. Wonderful. He was really interested, but he wanted a good deal, a better deal than I was willing to give. So, we didn’t get the deal.” 

It turns out they didn’t need the deal. The company did 83,000 orders last year alone and they now have over 2,100 moms who supply the baby gear to traveling families at their destination, capitalizing on Maier’s passion for the sharing economy. “Our gear is owned by the moms. They own multiple cribs, car seats, and strollers and they’re really building a business on our platform,” Maier says. “​​They go above and beyond because they’re serving families like their own.” 


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