Whatever Happened To Monti Kids After Shark Tank?

It's never too early to begin building healthy minds, and Monti Kids is finding fun ways to do so. The company creates an array of toys designed to suit the developmental needs of children before their school years. Users join a subscription service that provides them with toys as well as additional material such as videos and readings for parents. Its name stems from the time-tested Montessori method of teaching. Created by Italian physician Dr. Maria Montessori, this system places emphasis on engaging children through play and activity as opposed to traditional education methods. 

Founder Zahra Kassam graduated from Harvard, where she studied child psychology and education before becoming a certified Montessori instructor. After having her first child, Kassam wanted to find ways of developing his brain as early as possible. She found other parents with similar concerns while teaching a course at a parenting center. Realizing this need, Kassam spent three years developing Monti Kids, officially launching it when her second son was born. 

Even in its early stages, Monti Kids was garnering some buzz. Aside from collecting investors, Kassam and company were invited to prestigious events such as the Harvard Cutting Edge of Early Education Meeting, the Lego Ideas conference, and the White House Early Education Summit. 

What happened to Monti Kids on Shark Tank?

Zahra Kassam appears on "Shark Tank" Season 10 seeking a $200,000 investment for 2.5% of Monti Kids. She informs the wealthy investors that each of the eight levels, consisting of toys and informational content, lasts three months and costs $297. Each level costs $125 to produce. 

In the 14 months that Monti Kids has been selling its services, the company has brought in $550,000 and is growing 20% each month. Kassam has raised $2.8 million from prior investors, stating that there is massive demand in the market for what Monti Kids offers. Lori Greiner doesn't believe that there's anything particularly special about Kassam's business, but the entrepreneur argues that no other service will direct parents toward exactly what their child needs for their various stages of development. Nevertheless, Greiner doesn't think many are willing to pay such an amount. 

The Sharks grow especially concerned when Kassam informs them that the business is burning through $95,000 a month with a total loss of $900,000. Robert Herjavec, despite heavily criticizing her decision-making skills, likes Kassam enough to offer the $200,000 for 10% of the company. Kevin O'Leary has similar qualms but also goes in with a royalty deal of $10 per unit until he makes back the $200,000, which would then drop to $2.50 until he makes $600,000. Kassam asks Herjavec if he'll take 5% as equity and the other 5% as advisory shares. He agrees, but instead of sealing the deal right away, Kassam sees if Herjavec and O'Leary will team up. Frustrated by the sudden move despite accepting her offer, Herjavec exits negotiations. In the end, Kassam takes O'Leary's proposition. 

Monti Kids after Shark Tank

The Sharks aren't known for going easy on the budding entrepreneurs who present to them, and Zahra Kassam was certainly no exception. She was left somewhat shaken by the experience, telling SOCAP Global, "It felt like I was attacked by the Sharks on an emotional level — so you have to prepare for that. I did a guided meditation to try and prepare mentally ... but I was scared of the intensity of the questioning. There are often really intense criticisms that aren't necessarily true — it's for TV; it's dramatized." Despite this, she didn't regret the experience and even felt that it was the right move to not take Robert Herjavec's 10% equity deal given the Monti Kids' value at the time. 

Kevin O'Leary remained an avid supporter of Kassam and Monti Kids, sharing kind tweets about the company and including Kassam in his Mr. Wonderful "Shark Tank" summit. He even proudly shared Kassam's TEDx Talk in January 2020, stating on Facebook, "One year ago I invested in Monti Kids on Shark Tank! ... Monti Kids continues to grow and do amazing things ... I'm so proud of Zahra and the work she's doing to make the world a better place."  

O'Leary wasn't all talk, as he aided Monti Kids in securing further investments from companies such as LEGO Ventures, eventually bringing its capital up to $6 million by the start of 2020. However, it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows for the company's founder, as Kassam admitted on Instagram. She said she suffered a concussion that she said triggered a burnout episode, though she also detailed her plans to devote more time to self-care.

Is Monti Kids still in business?

Looking to get your hands on Monti Kids for your own children? Well, you're out of luck. As of July 31, 2023, Monti Kids has stopped manufacturing toys. On its website's homepage, the company released a statement saying, "We're taking a pause to explore new ways to support families and help children along their developmental journey. So, while we won't be selling toys anymore, you can still access our informational video and blog content for helpful tips." During the time of this announcement, Monti Kids held a sale to clean out its inventory. 

As of this writing, the company's blog has not been updated since July 24. The video and information center is currently down for maintenance. While it's known what prompted this decision, it's worth noting that reception to Monti Kids has been extremely divisive. While it has received high marks from such outlets as USA Today, Tiny Beans, and The Confused Millennial, there has also been a fair share of negative reactions. Money PPL included it on its list of "'Shark Tank' Ideas that Never Should've Been Funded" while Little Baby Gear believed that there are other options that offer a similar value while being more affordable for new parents. Even The Confused Millennial later admitted to leaving the subscription service after receiving toys that were of poor quality. 

What's next for Monti Kids?

The sudden announcement that Monti Kids is no longer making toys is bound to have some scratching their heads. This is especially after the big moves the company made following "Shark Tank," from its major investment deals to founder Zahra Kassam getting to speak at several notable events. Nevertheless, no voice screams louder than that of the consumer, and whether it was the mixed reactions to Monti Kids' services or possible further financial troubles, change was an inevitable prospect. 

Monti Kids is showing some signs of life despite still being on pause at the time of writing. It is still listed on investor Kevin O'Leary's website amongst his top "Shark Tank" investments, while Zahra Kassam's LinkedIn states that she is still actively running the company. However, she seems to have stepped down as CEO in August 2020 and is now listed as a founder and director. Additionally, she works as the chief steward for the regenerative agriculture and organic farming company The Mushroom Farm. Given her past history with burnout, taking the time she needs to reorganize Monti Kids is perhaps the best move forward for Kassam as she explores other ventures. Whatever happens next for the business, her desire to help children and parents alike is unlikely to wane anytime soon.