Husband and wife Randy and Darryl Lenz went on "Shark Tank" in 2011 and pitched Ride-On Carry-On, a product that converts any rolling carry-on luggage into a travel stroller. As a flight attendant and mother, the idea came to Darryl Lenz while she was in the airport and saw parents struggling with children in one hand and luggage in another.
On the episode, the couple accepted an offer with Barbara Corcoran for $50,000 in exchange for a 25 percent stake.
What has happened in the last couple of years?
According to an email to CNBC, within a year of the episode airing, international sales exploded, with sales going from $40,000 to $500,000. Their business is still growing; they are set to reach $1 million in sales this year.
CNBC caught up with co-creator Darryl Lenz to find out what it was like to be on "Shark Tank" and what it's like to work with Corcoran. Darryl Lenz offers her advice for any entrepreneur who wants to step into the tank. Also, ever wanted to know how Kevin O' Leary earned the nickname "Mr. Wonderful?" Check out the Q&A below.
What was it about your pitch that attracted the sharks, and what was it like to do the actual pitch?
We had a product that made life easier for traveling families, we had a utility patent in place, we had a finished product and manufacturing in place and we had a history of working hard to get the product on the market. It also helped that we had no debt. It was a win-win and Barbara could see we were driven to succeed and we had a lot of great PR through the years. When we told them Business Week picked the Ride-On Carry-On as one of their best new products of the year that seemed to hold weight with the sharks.
How has being on the show impacted your business?
Since "Shark Tank" aired our international sales has exploded and we are now in 10 countries and still growing. Ride-On Carry-On is perfect for the international traveler and I, so far, am the only one of Barbara's businesses that has grown so much internationally. Sales went from $40,000 to $500,000 within the year after our pitch episode aired. Now we are closing in on 1 million in sales.
The first time Kevin O'Leary was called "Mr. Wonderful" was during negotiations with you—what can you tell us about that moment? And how it sounded at the time?
We watched "Shark Tank" the first season and were aware of Kevin's way of handling the entrepreneurs so we were actually prepared for him to work us over a bit. We knew our product wasn't going to excite him and generally men don't handle the kids when traveling. By the time he said he was "Mr. Wonderful" we had been "chatting" for awhile so I felt like we could mess with him a bit and we did. My husband's sense of humor took over although that part was not aired!
What is it like working with Barbara Corcoran?
Barbara has been an amazing partner! She loves to bring all her entrepreneurs together to brainstorm and help each other. We drink a bit, eat a lot of fabulous food and laugh a lot and by the end of the weekend we are all family. Barbara does know how to entertain but she does also never stop working for any of us! She has a whole office staff at our disposal and anything we need we can call.
How would you advise a fellow entrepreneur who is about to step into the tank?
First and foremost DO NOT overvalue your business. The biggest mistake entrepreneurs make is that they love their product or idea so much that they all think it's worth a million dollars, but if your current sales do not show that you will get shot down almost immediately. Remember it's NOT a deal until you sign on the bottom line and that happens after the cameras stop rolling. You need to show why YOU are worth investing in!
By Jill Weinberger and Liza Hughes
More bite is coming to Tuesday nights on CNBC. Get ready for "Shark Tank" on Tuesdays, 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. Learn more about Ride-On Carry-On, and watch Darryl Lenz enter the tank Tuesday, Feb. 11 at 8 p.m. ET.