Jennifer Beall Saxton ’05 has known she wanted to become an entrepreneur since sixth grade.

At that age, Michael Dell was her idol, and she pictured herself working at a high-tech startup.

She never imagined her actual entrepreneurial endeavor would be, as she puts it, “cleaning baby poop off car seats.”

Saxton is the founder and CEO of Tot Squad, a startup she founded in 2010 after writing her business plan while pursuing her MBA at Northwestern.

Tot Squad is a baby gear company that offers assembly, installation, repair and cleaning services for strollers and car seats. Saxton started Tot Squad by cleaning “one stroller at a time,” but the company has since grown and pivoted and is now discussing national partnerships with the likes of Uber and a major rental car company to service their car seat programs.

The Los Angeles-based company also has its first franchise in Washington, D.C.

The vision for the company, Saxton said, in addition to its current services, is to be the “Geek Squad” of baby gear, helping to assemble cribs, car seats, strollers and other gear for a new baby. Tot Squad hopes to build its first in-store service center at a baby store soon.

Saxton majored in math while at Duke, but tried to tailor her course schedule to help shape herself into an entrepreneur, adding courses in topics like leadership along the way.

After she graduated, she went into consulting, which she called a great introduction to business after receiving a liberal arts education.

When Saxton applied to business school, she thought she was looking for a co-founder – someone who had a great idea that she could help execute.

But she ended up coming up with the idea for Tot Squad herself and worked on her business in nearly every class she took.

Saxton came up with the idea by first identifying her customer. She knew she wanted to help busy moms, so she began to think about problems they face.

Saxton doesn’t yet have children, so she studied her customer, millennial moms, thoroughly in order to make her business usable and needed.

“We were receiving parenting magazines, and my business school roommate asked if I needed to tell her something,” she joked.

Saxton has raised $2 million to date and was recently selected as a Tory Burch Fellow, through which she attended a three-day fellowship in New York and received $10,000 for her business education.

Even though she’s not working the glamorous high-tech job she once envisioned, Saxton has found what she’s passionate about, and she advises students to do the same.

She also emphasized the importance of team – while she founded the company without a co-founder, she said she could not have expanded in new directions without her chief operating officer and other new team members.

To learn more about Tot Squad, visit its website.

To read about more Duke Entrepreneurs, click here.

By Katie Jansen

Logo for Tot Squad