Rick Hopper’s ReadeREST is one of the most successful products to date, consistently selling out of inventory on QVC while being championed by both Rick and Lori Greiner, who invested in the company during Season 3. With his episode about to air again this Friday, Rick stopped by recently and shared more about his appearance on the show.
Question: First off, congrats on your Shark Tank deal and the success of your product since your appearance. Thinking back to when you were preparing to walk into the tank to face the Sharks, what was running through your mind?
Answer: My biggest fear was that when I took my intentional trip and “fall” entering the tank, I was going to either hurt myself or break my glasses which would have defeated the whole purpose! I had taken dozens of practice falls in preparing for the show, but what if the one time it mattered, it didn’t work out? Anyone who has seen the episode might not have known that this was a calculated move. I know my product and I know my customer, but I was concerned that I’d leave out important details in my pitch.
Your pitch to the Sharks was one of the strongest (if not the best) out of Season 3. You seemed very prepared to answer each question that the Sharks threw your way — what did you do to prepare for your appearance?
Rick: The six months prior to my appearance on Shark Tank, I was on a mission to figure out who my customer is. So, I put my product booth into home shows, golf shows, gun shows, gift shows, street fairs, farmers markets and the list goes on! Of all the things I learned, three things stand out:
- Most people identify with the problem of scratching and losing their eyewear.
- I learned how to demonstrate my product in front of people.
- People were quick to trade their hard earned dollars for ReadeREST. The combination of all of my public demonstrations and the positive reactions of tens of thousands of people gave me the confidence that was seen by millions of people on Shark Tank. For further preparation, I had calculated every scenario of alternative offers on a spreadsheet, and I was ready for anything the Sharks might throw at me.
Did you have a Shark (or Sharks) in mind that you were hoping to work with? If so, why?
Rick: Yes. I had researched all of the Sharks in the weeks leading up to the taping. The week before my taping date, I learned that Lori Greiner “The Queen of QVC” would be sitting in for Barbara. Not to take anything away from the other Sharks, but Lori was the only one I was really interested in doing business with.
Many entrepreneurs and inventors have been unwilling to offer a controlling interest to the Sharks — what about Lori’s offer made you think twice about walking away from her offer of $150K for 65% of your company?
Rick: Going into the Tank, I was dead set against giving up control of the company. But Lori’s offer of taking over production and distribution (and that I would not have to lift a finger and simply collect 35% of the profit) changed my mind.
How has it been to work with Lori?
Rick: Lori is a gem. I’ve never met anyone who works as hard and whose word is as good. Every once and a while in life, you find someone you really click with. It started with ReadeREST and we’re now working on other projects and products together. I foresee a long term friendship and business relationship with Lori and am forever grateful to Shark Tank for introducing us.
It’s been said that your product has been one of the most successful in the history of Shark Tank. Knowing that in the months leading up to your appearance that you were making the product by hand, how does that feel?
Rick: I have tears in my eyes while answering this question. Countless people only dream of going from idea to money, but few of us find our fingers literally bleeding from the effort that it takes to bring a product to life.
What’s on the horizon in the coming months for SpecSecure?
Rick: Many retailers continue to contact us and want ReadeREST in their stores. Our international growth is very exciting and our plans are for ReadeREST to be merchandised on every eye-glass rack on the planet!
You mentioned being a guy that invents and creates products from an early age. Do you have any other projects or products that you’re working on now that you can share about?
Rick: Yes. I’m working with several other inventors to help them get their products to market. One is Hang Track, a simple household item that keeps your clean clothes from falling off your door trim on to the floor. Another is the Did-It, which is a patented product made to help people manage their medications. Also I’m working on a patented, revolutionary, space saving adjustable shelving system designed for kitchen cabinets, closets, countertops, desks, etc. One more to mention is The Fishandel, “A Fishing Tool.” More to be revealed soon!
What advice would you give to an entrepreneur or inventor that is considering about applying to be on Shark Tank?
Rick: Prove your idea through prototypes, test markets (not your friends), and make sure people will actually buy what you’re selling. Anyone who’s seen the show has witnessed unprepared inventors get ripped apart by the Sharks. I have no shame in admitting I am very lucky, having learned just how many people apply to get on Shark Tank. I went onto ABC.com, filled out the submission form, and waited for a call.
Is there anything else about your appearance that you’d like to share with fans of the show?
Rick: One thing I forgot to mention in the show, when I referred to “fishing your glasses out of the toilet” was that “Speaking of fishing, they say there are millions of glasses and sunglasses at the bottom of lakes, rivers, and oceans!” That said, take this opportunity to think of a few people you might know that could benefit from using a ReadeREST. Where else can you spend $10 on a friend, and get them something they can really use?
Rick Hopper comes from humble beginnings with memories of the smell of Bologna and mustard sandwiches in a paper lunch sack, the sound of that same paper bag swinging on the handlebars in the wind as he raced to school on the bike his parents bought for him for Christmas at a garage sale.
Rick was shy yet creative as a boy who was surrounded by two brothers, one year older and the other one year younger.
No time or money for college, so off to work he went in the construction trades where he earned a good enough living to feed a young family and live indoors.
His stories of defeat and success will keep you on the edge of your seat.
From the humblest of living conditions to a couple of highly successful business ventures, One of Rick’s greatest moments was his appearance on the hit show Shark Tank.
Somehow, Rick has mastered the art of recognizing simple solutions to annoying problems that plague the average human.
June is startup month at Forbes and my focus is on ABC’s Shark Tank, which has been a TV phenomenon spanning three seasons, with eight different angel investors from a variety of industries. These angel investors, also called “sharks”, battle it out for a chance to invest in promising new companies. The show illustrates the American dream, which is something people still believe in despite the bad economy. By watching the show, you’re entertained, inspired and you end up learning a lot about what it takes to sell your idea and make it a reality.
Shark Tank is produced by reality TV legend Mark Burnett, who based it off of the popular “Dragons Den” version played on Canadian TV. In the third season, which just concluded, the Sharks offered over $6.2 million dollars of their own money in investment deals. There have been eight sharks throughout all three seasons. Daymond John, Kevin O’Leary, Robert Herjavec and Barbara Corcoran have been in all three seasons. Kevin Harrington was in season one and two, Mark Cuban in two and three, Jeff Foxworthy in season two and Lori Greiner in season 3.
Daymond John is a fashion and branding expert who grew his homemade hats and t-shirts into the globally recognized brand Fubu. Kevin O’Leary (who calls himself Mr. Wonderful on the show) is a venture capitalist that started a software business in his basement which he eventually sold for $3.2 billion dollars. Robert Herjavec, the son of an immigrant factory worker, is a technology mogul who sold his first internet companies for over $350 million dollars. Barbara turned a thousand dollar loan into a real estate empire worth hundreds of millions in Manhattan. Kevin Harrington is the Chairman of As Seen On TV, Inc, a public company trading as ASTV. Mark Cuban is a self-made billionaire entrepreneur, the owner of the 2011 NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks and author of How to Win at the Sport of Business. Jeff Foxworthy is a popular comedian, TV and radio personality, and author. Finally, Lori Greiner is regarded as one of the most prolific inventors of retail items, having created over 350 products.
For the next six days, I’ll be running a Shark Tank roundtable series, where I ask each shark a new question about the show, their experiences, and their entrepreneurship advice. You can watch previous episodes of Shark Tank for free on Hulu or if you’re an entrepreneur, you can apply to be on the show. If you’re a fan of the show, you’ll be happy to hear that Shark Tank was renewed for a fourth season, consisting of 22 episodes.
What’s the best and worst deal you’ve done on the show?
Mark Cuban: I’ve done quite a few good deals on the show – Kisstixx.com, Tower Paddle Boards, Lollacup.com, THepaintedpretzel.com, and I Want to Draw a Cat For You are all doing incredibly well. The only failure I have had is Toygaroo.
Kevin O’Leary: Worst deal – Toygaroo. Great concept but they proved unable to execute. Best deal – Talbott Teas. Within a few months of the show they were acquired by Jamba Juice!
Daymond John: This season, I was afforded the opportunity to work with Shane Talbott and Steven Nakisher on the branding of their lifestyle tea brand, Talbott Teas. Our partnership proved to be a success as Jamba Juice acquired the brand. Talbott Teas is a shining example of what the show is capable of doing. EzVip has proven that creating a great social experience starts in the planning stages. EzVip allows consumers to pre-purchase admission tickets and beverages for the best events in Miami and Las Vegas. Since their appearance on the show, the EzVip team has gained notable investors and supporters, such as international recording star, Pitbull.
Barbara Corcoran: My worst was investing in a fast-talking cowboy selling exercise equipment who needed to lose 50 pounds. Instead, he lost my $50,000. My best so far is Daisy Cakes, the absolutely best home-made cake you’ll ever eat! She was right, and 100,000 cake eaters agree with her. It was also the first time I asked that I be paid “a dollar a cake” until my initial $50,000 investment was paid back. I got that money within three weeks, and her cakes are still selling like, well, hot cakes!
Lori Greiner: I really have liked all the deals I’ve done. Each has been very unique and things are progressing really well for most. I really like each of the entrepreneurs as well. I would say the READEREST would have to be considered the most successful deal so far, but several of the others are coming along really well too. Readerest has hit over $2 million in retail sales and we have great Q4 projections. I’m also working on more designs and collaborations with Rick the inventor which will be coming out soon. As for the worst, I can’t say yet. We have to see. I think in Season 4 of ST, you will see a lot of exciting follow ups with several of my deals.
Robert Herjavec: Best deal I have ever done is my good friend Travis from Chord Buddy – an incredible success story. Great combination of a solid business coupled with a nice guy. There is no worst – I tend to look forward not backwards
Kevin Harrington: To call out the worst deal is a tough one; I can just say there have been plenty of deals we didn’t make money on. In one instance on the show, I made a commitment to invest in a product and before we even closed the deal, we found out the product was being returned in vast amounts to retailers that were selling it. Unfortunately, that’s one of the downsides of doing deals live on the spot. We definitely have to do some due diligence to verify the viability of the business.
Jeff Foxworthy: It still remains to been see. There was one with the Hill Billy clothing wear. They had this name trademarked, “Hill Billy” two words. I thought that was kind of interesting. They were selling them at country music concerts out of the back of a van. I was sitting next to Daymond and I was thinking “think outside of the box, you’re selling them out of a van but with that name Hill Billy, why couldn’t you turn that into snowboard gear and go a different route with it.” Market a whole line of stuff for skiers and snowboarders. Daymond liked that idea and I said “you know clothing and I’ve sold t-shirts for years so do you want to get on this together?” We thought of a cool and innovative way to do this thing. When you finish the show, you have 90 days to figure out if they own the patents and trademarks and everything that they say they own.
When we started dealing with these guys they said “we just wanted to be on TV for the free advertisement, we didn’t really want to do a deal with you.” I was sitting there thinking “really, cause you’re selling t-shirts outside of the back of a van, but if that’s the route you want to go, OK.” I think we could have done some cool things with them. Mark Burnett recruited me for Shark Tank. He said “I think you’d be great on shark tank, you’ve always been such a good entrepreneur.” I said “You know mark, I’m the nice guy and I can’t have the shark face and be mean.” And he said “no, no it would be good, you’ll be a different personality on there.” I enjoyed It from that aspect. What I didn’t know is that after you do it, everybody on the planet that has an idea contacts you. The majority of the ideas aren’t good ideas.
If you can make it onto ABC’s hit show “Shark Tank,” you’ll have an audience of about 10 million people to show your product. It’s why even entrepreneurs who lose out on a deal often report a notable uptick in sales following their appearance on the show, which portrays negotiations between small-business owners and a panel of potential investors dubbed “Sharks.”
But for those who do get a deal, “Shark Tank” can change the trajectory of their business, turning a fledgling company into a national brand.
The following entrepreneurs took a successful pitch and maximized the potential of the Shark they partnered with through focus and determination.
Rick Hopper dramatically fell in front of the judges in season three, which turned out to be a trick to demonstrate his product, a magnetic clip that secures your reading glasses in place somewhere on your person. Greiner, seeing how the product would be a huge hit with her QVC home shopping audience, made a bold deal. She would give Hopper $150,000 for a whopping 65% of the company, with the assurance that she was uniquely positioned to make him a millionaire.
Greiner’s prediction was right, and ReadeRest batches regularly sell out on QVC. Earlier this year Hopper said that the company has made $8 million in total sales since appearing on “Shark Tank.”
According to eyecareAmerica.org, there are 3.4 million people in the U.S., age 40 and over, who are visually impaired, suggesting eye health and care as growing problems. For those millions of people with impaired vision who are confronted with larger concerns like scheduling eye exams and updating their eye care solutions, Rick Hopper, creator and founder of Readerest, has a solution to eliminate a smaller, but frequent annoyance experienced by everyday eyeglass wearers.
Being an eyeglass wearer himself, Hopper explains, “Like most people I had a problem with my glasses, my reading glasses especially. I’d stick them in my shirt when I wasn’t using them, because I didn’t have a place to keep them. Then I’d bend over to pick something up and they would fall out and get scratched on the ground. Or, I’ll leave them lying around and then I can’t find them when I need them.” Inspired by this annoyance, Hopper developed an eyeglass holding solution, first produced from everyday household items: a paperclip, a washer and apoxy. Now, the Readerest sports a stainless steel design, strong enough to hold the weight of 50 pairs of glasses on most shirts and blouses.
Hopper details the durability and strength of the product, explaining, “It’s a lightweight product, but it’s super powerful. The product works on sweatshirts, fleece, denim, and just about every type of clothing except for a thick motorcycle leather jacket.” Beside its wearing flexibility, the Readerest illustrates flexibility in its usage, as Hopper has known some customers to hang their Bluetooth earpiece, golfing tees, as well as fishing hooks and lures on the product, in order to keep them secure and at their side.
Readerest’s simple design and expansive usage have created such a stir that Hopper has successfully marketed his product to hospital gift stores, salons, wineries and hardware stores, and gained some international attention in the U.K. Independent retailers are invited to visit the product website to review the growing fashion designs. Although the website lists retail prices, the Readerest is available at wholesale prices, in three different order levels of $250, $1,000 and $5,000.
Entrepreneurs who make it onto a "Shark Tank" episode have the opportunity to introduce their company to a viewing audience of 7 million potential customers.
The companies that land a deal with one or more of the show's investors then have the chance to scale and, in some cases, become a nationally recognized brand.
We looked through old episodes and asked the Sharks themselves about their most successful deals. Read on to learn about the biggest "Shark Tank" success stories so far.
Rick Hopper essentially handed the reins of ReadeRest over to Greiner when he agreed to a $150,000 investment in exchange for 65% of the company in Season 3, but it turned his little one-man show into a huge success.
The product, a magnetic clip that holds eyeglasses in place on a shirt, regularly sells out on QVC. Readerest says it's made $13 million in revenue in the three years following the "Shark Tank" appearance.
What Are 'Shark Tank's Most Successful Products? 7 Businesses That Turned Out To Be Great Investments
It's often the most innocuous of products that bring in the big bucks. I don't personally wear glasses that need to be taken on and off, so little did I know there was a gaping hole in the market just waiting for ReadeREST to fill. But if there's anyone I'd trust to recognize a product that people need (or at least think they need), it's Lori Greiner, "Queen of QVC." Greiner saw the small magnetic glasses holder as a product millions of people would see a use for, with tons of room for mark-up. And she was right! After an initial investment of $150,000 for 65 percent, she and QVC have helped bring inventor Rick Hopper's sales to over $8 million in the last two years, as he told CNBC.
I found this inventor interview really interesting as Rick Hopper from www.ReadeREST.com found out that his invention idea had already been patented. However he did not let this stop him pursuing the idea. Read Rick’s story to find out more below.
Rick Hopper with his ReadeREST invention
Tara: What is your name, invention name and website URL?
Rick: Inventor Rick Hopper, Company: ReadeREST. (Pronounced Reader Rest) www.ReadeREST.com (We are also known as SpecSecure by ReadeREST. *SpecSecure was a more recognizable name in the international market)
Tara: Please could you tell me a little bit about where you are based, your background experience how you first started inventing?
Rick: I grew up near Anaheim and now live in Fullerton, Calif. As a young boy, I loved tinkering around with things including tools or anything else I could get my hands on. My first invention, believe it or not, was a “wind sail” for my skate board. I used pvc pipe and a sheet to create a sail that could help me pick up speed or slow down while riding my skate board down hills. I’ve always considered myself pretty inventive. If there was a problem, I’d find a solution!
I worked at Home Depot for many years and as a carpenter on the side to support my family, but always had bigger dreams for myself. I started up a business from an idea I’d had about 12 years ago (Vinyl Trim for window companies) and was fortunate enough to sell the company and focus on my next project. The bigger picture; which was ReadeREST.
Tara: Please could you tell me a little bit about your invention, what it is, and how you came up with the idea?
Rick: The day I turned 40, I started needing reading glasses. When I wasn’t wearing them, I’d hang them in my shirt collar and they would always, without fail, fall on the ground and get scratched. Even worse, sometimes they’d fall in the toilet! I’d try wearing them on my head and they’d pull my hair out. I wasn’t about to wear a “granny chain” so I needed something to keep them within arm’s reach, but also safe. I began bending paper clips into different shapes and attaching them with magnets to my shirt. It made the perfect hanger for my glasses. Everywhere I went, people would ask “Hey, What is that??” and more importantly “Where can I get one??” It didn’t take long to see that there was a huge demand for this product. With some fine tuning of the shape and design, ReadeREST was born. Like my company before, it began in my garage! I started making them for all my friends and family and eventually started selling them.
Tara: What were the first steps you took after having your idea?
Rick: (Somewhat discussed above) I bought better, stronger magnets, and designed a streamline shape that anyone could wear. If I got stuck, I just kept moving forward, gathering information from anyone I could. That’s the thing about being an entrepreneur, you might now know what the heck you’re doing, but you figure it out!
Tara: Did you get presentation drawing sheets produced or make a prototype of your invention, how did you go about this?
Rick: The first prototype was literally made out of paper clips. It seems silly to think back on that from where we are now, but that’s how the basic idea came about. The idea was so simple. It was just solving a problem I had with trying to keep my glasses safe and turned into something so much bigger.
Tara: Did you try and patent or protect your idea in any way and how did you go about it?
Rick: I immediately, after seeing people’s reaction to it, searched for a utility patent to protect this cool idea. To my surprise, it already existed! I found out it belonged to an older gentleman who had passed away. His wife lived in Northern Calif. So I took a road trip and purchased the patent from her.
Tara: Did you always intend manufacturing your invention yourself or did you look into licensing the idea?
Rick: I definitely wanted a Made In America product and if I could keep up with the demand, I wanted to manufacture it here, myself. We now have a warehouse in Brea, Calif. We make and assemble each one by hand and to tell you the truth, you can’t make them cheaper in China! We have a fluid system down that is efficient and employs hard working Americans, which is great. Our “blinged” version that is embedded with Swarovski crystals are all assembled by hand as well!
Tara: How did you go about finding a suitable manufacturer for your invention and did you self fund this?
Rick: The money I made off the sale of my other business was all I needed. Like any successful venture, there are many players on the team. Surrounding yourself with the right people is key. I was able to find a local metal guy that created my stainless steel front clips and back plates. I experimented with all sizes and strengths of magnets, found the most powerful adhesive available, and got to work assembling them!
Tara: What have you found are the best ways of promoting your invention?
Rick: We really got our big break after I was selected to be featured on ABC’s hit show Shark Tank. I frankly had never heard of the show, but everyone told me I needed to apply to be on it! So, I went to the ABC website and submitted my idea. A few weeks later, I was selected. The episode aired in February of 2011 and that is really what launched us in a big way. Making a deal with Lori Greiner was the best thing we could have done. Another great avenue that has helped us is attending trade shows, such as, Gift Expos and Vision Expo. You can make priceless contacts at these events.
Tara: What were the most difficult elements of bringing your invention to market?
Rick: If you have the right product, at the right time, at the right price, there is nothing difficult about it. Don’t get me wrong, it takes a LOT of work getting your product to retail, but with an invention that is a clear winner, people will see its potential and believe in it 100%.
Tara: How long has it taken from your initial idea to taking it to market?
Rick: 2 years of constant follow through and long days!
Tara: Is there anything you learned developing your invention that you would now do differently if you had to do it all again?
Rick: I believe you learn new things all along the way. You’ll make mistakes and learn from them as in any part of life. I don’t think I’d do anything differently.
Tara: What advice would you give any aspiring inventor with an idea?
Rick: Words I live by: Ideas are worth a penny, but the action and plans that carry your idea to reality are worth millions. It’s not enough to just have a cool idea. You have to be willing to put in the time and energy to make your idea a reality. There are so many resources at your finger tips these days, there is no excuse to sit around with a brilliant idea. Go after it with all your heart and soul!
Tara: Where can people find out more about your invention
Rick: We have a website www.ReadeREST.com where you can see all of the different ReadeRESTS. It began with the simple stainless steel option and has evolved into other colors and shapes now!www.ideasuploaded.com/
Before Shark Tank – ReadeREST and Rick Hopper
While Rick Hopper didn’t get a pre-show segment on Shark Tank, he filled in the gaps in an August 2015 interview with Startup Dallas. Like many other entrepreneurs, he had humble beginnings. Rick tells stories of annual trips to replace the previous year’s worn out pair of sneakers, working with his hands, and never getting a college degree. However, his creative spirit was greater than his hardship. From a young age, he constructed monoliths with Lincoln Logs and ERECTOR sets. Carrying this into adulthood, he began working in window paneling and spent his time-off building furniture for his young family. After a window business’ rocky end in the late 2000s, ReadeREST was Rick’s second attempt to take his creativity to market.
Blessed with perfect vision for most of his life, as he got older, Rick didn’t like dealing with the hassle of reading glasses. His solution was the first iteration of ReadeREST, a glasses holder combining a bent paper clip and a few magnets. The product worked perfectly for what it was: he never lost or dropped his glasses again. They even stayed secure when he took a fall on an electric skateboard and broke his shoulder. His little invention slowly became a real product and business. Friends began asking where they could buy the ReadeREST, and Rick took this as his opportunity. He traveled across the west coast and attended trade shows to find his market. The paper clip became stainless steel. The piece of scrap metal used as a back piece became a powerful neodymium magnet. Rick was still making them by hand when his friends begged him to look into Shark Tank. It took nine months of pleading before he decided to take the plunge.
During Shark Tank
Rick stumbled into the Shark Tank – literally. He took a fall on the edge of the carpet. What Kevin O’Leary called “bad theatre,” Rick called showmanship. Not to be defeated, he hopped onto his feet and launched his pitch. Rick was seeking one hundred fifty thousand dollars in exchange for fifteen percent of his company, a one million dollar valuation. According to Rick, ReadeREST solves problems for the everyday consumer, like dropping glasses in the toilet, stretching out collars, and ugly “granny chains.” He didn’t intend to sell it until some friends expressed interest, after which he sold sixty-five thousand dollars of product in test markets. Unfortunately, he ran out of inventory and needed an investment from the sharks to take ReadeREST into mass production.
Saving arguments about the valuation for later, the sharks asked if he had a patent, followed by some brief confusion. Although Rick did develop the ReadeREST around 2007, his patent search turned up an independent invention of a similar product in 2002. Luckily, it had never taken off, and the original patent holder was willing to sell it for five thousand dollars. With this patent and the trademark on ReadeREST, the sharks seemed content on intellectual property concerns. Along with sales, having a proprietary and differentiated product is one of the keys to success in the tank.
As he is known to do, Daymond put Rick on the spot. Instead of focusing on his high potential sales that were prevented by the production bottleneck, he compared Rick’s valuation of ReadeREST to the cost of the patent itself. One million against five thousand. “Do you see anything wrong with that?” Rick countered with the idea that high volume of distribution on store shelves would mean six million dollars a year in profits, a real money maker for any shark willing to bite. In short, he wanted a strategic partner. To Daymond, this was too much risk. He balked at the combination of an optimistic valuation, the work involved, and the networking headaches. “So now you want us to give you the money, work, and then pass off our connections.” Rick was left stammering, and Daymond was out.
Lori took things in another direction. She’s been around the block as a businesswoman with her own show on the home shopping network QVC, and she didn’t see Rick as a natural salesman. “I create things. I’ve been designing little things since I was thirteen years-old,” he agrees. “So you really need someone who will come in and take over and make this work for you.” She made Rick an offer, although not the one he was hoping for. In exchange for her one hundred fifty thousand, she needed sixty-five percent of his company. To keep Daymond on board, Rick had offered greater equity, so he was willing to budge, but giving up a controlling interest in the company was hard for him to stomach. Still, what if she was just the partner he was looking for? They both agreed that TV was a better place for the product than store shelves.
Without offers on the table from Mark, Kevin, or Robert, Lori was his only lead, but he attempted to counter at forty-nine percent equity. She immediately declined. Since no other sharks had expressed interest, he lacked negotiating power. “I’m a little gun-shy in giving up total controlling interest in the company without a complete buyout option, with royalties…” he offered. The sharks were dumbfounded at his sudden development of business skills and jokingly speculated that they were being hustled. Now that an offer was on the table, Robert spoke up. “At best, I saw this as a knick-knack that was sold as gas stations.” Unable to see the value that Lori did, he bowed out. Kevin also made a swift exit, calling a million dollar valuation for “a little piece of metal” insanity. Mark claimed that he was “processing” the deal, but Lori wouldn’t give him a chance, threatening to take her deal off the table if Rick waited for another offer. Tensions rose as Mark tried to jump in, claiming his own TV networks made him an asset.
As usual, Mark concealed his intentions until the end to see how the deal would play out. He said he would help Rick, but when everyone expected an offer, Mark backed out, saying there were better options. Lori was truly his last chance. Rick launched into another round of “Would you consider?” with the only shark remaining, grasping for a few more points of equity, but to no avail. “Take it or leave it.” At his breaking point, Rick did admit that even thirty-five percent of what could be a ten million dollar company is exciting. After some provocation from all of the sharks, with a grimace, Rick finally accepted the deal.
While Rick left the tank, everyone took stock. Mostly, they marveled at the ability of one person to take “a piece of metal with two magnets” and net such a large investment. Rick also seemed happy with the deal, saying “When Lori looked right into my eyes and said ‘I’m going to make you a millionaire,’ I believed her!” Although he wanted to keep more than thirty-five percent of the company, it seemed like a win. Still, it’s striking how the smallest negotiating tactics in the tank can make a difference of millions. Looking primarily for a controlling interest in the company, Lori would have been very likely to accept a counter-offer of sixty, fifty-five, or even fifty-one percent equity in the company, but by trying to low-ball her offer, Rick locked himself out of further negotiations. It’s regrettable, but it’s been established that he’s not a salesman. At least, now he can spend his time doing what he loves, building and inventing.
After Shark Tank: ReadeREST in 2016
Several episodes after ReadeREST’s original feature, the Shark Tank team was able to follow-up with Rick Hopper about his business. The update finds him behind the scenes of Lori’s QVC show, Clever and Unique Creations, where she’s ready to make her first pitch of the product. At the end of Rick’s Shark Tank episode, she had mentioned selling twenty million dollars in reading glasses on TV to date, so by bundling the ReadeREST with glasses, the product should practically sell itself. Her promise to make Rick a rich man looks like reality when he sells out of his first production run of five thousand units almost immediately. Needless to say, Rick is excited to see where things go from here.
In fact, he’s stayed as active as any other entrepreneur who’s taken a deal on Shark Tank. Seven years after the investment, his website is still up and running, with products ranging from ten to fifty dollars. Along with the original designs, he’s come up with pink ReadeREST clips for breast cancer awareness and a design resembling a pair of sunglasses. There’s also been a re-branding effort to focus attention on the ReadeREST trademark. As Rick says in his Startup Dallas interview “All roads lead to ReadeREST.” In early development, Rick referred to the specific product as “SpecSecure,” but over time, he has started to simply call it ReadeREST or the BodyRack. His product was so popular for holding glasses that he decided to begin marketing it as a cord management tool, an earbud holder, and even a pen clip. Searching for the website of any of these products redirects to the main ReadeREST website.
Despite his TV and online sales, as well as Lori’s concerns that his product would die on store shelves, he has had remarkable success with traditional retail distribution. As of August 2015, the product can be found in twenty-five hundred Walmart Vision Centers, as well as Bed, Bath, and Beyond, Staples, Ace Hardware, and a variety of other smaller locations. It looks like Rick’s dream of ReadeREST appearing in five thousand stores worldwide has come true. From his August interview, Rick clearly sees success as stemming from a mixture of business sense and luck. He’s posted blog content to his website that shows his intentions to pass along this success and expressed interest in writing a book about his experiences.
The most impressive thing about Rick is his simultaneous ability to think big and keep himself in check. Countless entrepreneurs have approached the sharks with overambitious ideas like perpetual motion machines and full immersion virtual reality devices. One by one, they’ve been turned down, but Rick Hopper, with a piece of stainless steel and two magnets, has succeeded. ReadeREST has an attractive simplicity, but from the beginning, he recognized its potential and took every chance to grow the business as much as possible. Someday, his plans for a buyout by a large commercial producer of eye wear may materialize, and he’ll move on to his next invention. Until then, between Rick Hopper and Lori Greiner, ReadeREST is in good hands. Here’s to many more years of ReadeREST keeping our glasses out of the toilet.http://gazettereview.com/