Sharmi Albrechtsen created Smart Gurlz when she built a toy for her daughters that taught them STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) principles. She knew how few girls got into STEM related fields as adults and she wanted to do something about it. Rather than fight the inherent gender bias in many toys, she rolled with it and made a “girly” toy that had STEM at its core.
She knew girls loved dolls. She also knew they'd enjoy STEM if they could relate to it, so Smart Gurlz took “traditional” dolls and put them on programmable scooters. The scooter move around through a series of coded commands kids enter through a smart phone app.
While the four doll characters are all girls, they emulate girls who are proficient in one of the STEM disciplines. Even with the decidedly female gender approach, a lot of brothers wanted to try the toys too. Albrechtsen is clearly on to something. More and more STEM toys aimed at girls appear on the market regularly – some even make it to the Shark Tank (Roominate comes to mind). Girls want to learn this stuff and she gave them a vehicle – even if it is a small scooter! Hopefully, a Shark will share her vision.
My Take on Smart Gurlz
As the father of four daughters, I encourage my girls to follow their passions and dreams. My oldest is a microbiologist/nutritionist who is pursuing a PhD. STEM wasn't ever anything we shied away from in our house. While all my girls are well beyond the dolls stage, I think this is a great toy; I also think Sharmi is smart to embrrace gender bias in toys rather than trying to buck a trend.
My youngest is learning to code online and at a coding camp she attended last summer. Whether it becomes a career move remains to be seen, but she's not intimidated by technology. If Smart Gurlz gets more girls interested in STEM, I am all for it. I'm in.
Will Sharks think this is a Smart Investment?
STEM related businesses fared well in the past. STEM Center and the aforementioned Roominate both did deals with Mark and Lori. They understand the value of STEM education and the money involved; parents will spend on educational toys and related items.
Sales will play a part in any Shark's decision, but if the numbers are good, expect a feeding frenzy for Smart Gurlz. Mark and Lori may bid, but Richard Branson could too. Even Robert could take a flyer. The only Shark I don't see bidding is Daymond and that's because it's out of his area of expertise. I predict Albrechtsen leaves with a deal from Mark, Lori, Sir Richard or a combo of two of the three.