Two women have taken their business idea from the Mandeville Market all the way to Shark Tank, the reality TV show focused on entrepreneurs. Here is what Nita Gassen and Judy Schott have to say about launching their company Better Bedder, as well as their experience pitching to the sharks face-to-face.

The initial idea for the company came about when Schott had an issue with difficult-to-make beds at her condo. They were so fussy that her children preferred to sleep on the couch, rather than deal with making the beds. She called on longtime friend and collaborator Nita Gassen for help, and they started creating prototypes. Gassen taught herself to sew with help from YouTube, and they eventually landed on the idea of a giant “headband” for the bed. The large elastic band tucked around the edges of the bed to keep fitted sheets in place, without requiring anyone to lift the heavy mattress. The simple, ingenious creation caught on immediately. In fact, when they sold the Better Bedder at a local market in Mandeville, several people suggested going on Shark Tank.

Gassen and Schott take particular pride in one part of their Better Bedder experience: the way their product helps improve the lives of others. “The product, if you use it, speaks for itself,” says Gassen. “People don’t like it for the color or how it looks, but for how it’s making a difference in their lives.” They get positive feedback about it all the time. “It does work, and it’s heartwarming to read reviews from people who can make the bed now, whether it’s a senior, child or person with disabilities,” says Schott. “We had to get this out there to make the chore easier for other people.”

Because some 40,000 people try out for Shark Tank each year, the Better Bedder team knew their odds were slim. But ever the risk-taker, Gassen applied for a chance to appear on the show, realizing that “somebody has to make it.” 

Gassen and Schott appeared on season 12, episode 15 of Shark Tank. They described the experience as “very exciting and intimidating, but exhilarating,” noting that there wasn’t much of a dress rehearsal, as they essentially had to walk out on the set and deliver the pitch in one shot.

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