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?