Start-ups

'Shark Tank': How this 15-year-old landed a 6-figure deal with the founder of Toms

Touch Up Cup co-founders Carson and Jason Grill.
ABC

Fifteen-year-old Carson Grill just started his freshman year of high school, but unlike most of his classmates, he is already running his own company. With his father, Jason Grill, Carson is co-founder and CEO of Touch Up Cup, a company selling paint storage containers.

The father-son duo, originally from from Cincinnati, pitched investors on Friday's episode of "Shark Tank" on ABC.

"I invented the patented Touch Up Cup for paint, the most innovative solution to all of your paint storage problems," Carson told the Sharks during the episode. "Touch Up Cup has an airtight silicon seal to keep paint fresh for over 10 years."

Carson and his father first thought of the idea for Touch Up Cup when they noticed that the paint and paint buckets they kept around for home touch-ups became rusty over time. So they created the Touch Up Cup to store their own paint.

The Touch Up Cup is a plastic cup that holds 13 oz. of paint. It has stainless steel springs that mix paint and remove clumps when the cup is shaken, Carson said. "Just shake and paint."

Despite his age, Carson led the pitch and answered all of the Sharks' questions, which impressed them.

"We have a [manufacturing] strategic partnership in Nashville, Tennessee that does all of our picking and packing, [and] our EDI [Electronic Data Interchange] order entry," Carson told the Sharks. "We're about 70% online and 30% in retail right now," in regard to sales.

"I love this kid," Daymond John said in response.

"EDI? I didn't learn that until my fifth year at Toms," Blake Mycoskie, guest Shark and founder of Toms, said.

Blake Mycoskie, guest Shark and founder of Toms, holding a Touch Up Cup.
ABC

Carson told the Sharks that Touch Up Cup is already in 4,000 retail locations across the country and brought in about $220,000 in sales over the last two years. According to Carson, the company is on track to do $400,000 in sales in 2020.

As for cost per unit, a Touch Up Cup costs $0.90 to make, and it is sold retail for $3.99 to $4.99, Carson added.

Carson's knowledge was surprising to the Sharks.

"Normally, on 'Shark Tank,' when you bring in your son, usually the father gives the pitch, and the son does a little demo and then off they go because things are going to get tough in the Tank. So far, Carson is doing all the talking," Shark Kevin O'Leary said.

"We run this business 50/50," Jason, who works in medical sales full-time, said in response. "He knows what he is doing."

Carson has accomplished a lot as a teenager — he even has four patents: one utility patent for the Touch Up Cup and three design patents for three additional storage containers to keep muffins, bagels and donuts fresh, he said.

The three additional products "are absolutely a part of this deal," Carson said. "They are designed to keep muffins, bagels and donuts fresh for three to four days longer than conventional packaging," and account for 5% of Touch Up Cup's sales.

The Grills were asking for a $150,000 investment in exchange for 10% equity. Mycoskie was sold on Carson and was ready to make a deal.

"I would love to help you grow this business. I would love to make you an offer. I'd like to do $200,000 for 25%," Mycoskie told the father-son duo.

John then offered a $200,000 investment for 17.5% equity "to cut [Mycoskie's] legs out from underneath him," John joked.

Chiming in, O'Leary added that he wanted Carson to drop out of school to focus on the business. "I just finished 8th grade. I don't think that's an option right now," Carson said.

After realizing that neither Carson nor Jason works full-time on the business, John revised his offer to $150,000 for 20% equity.

O'Leary opted out of making a deal, along with Shark Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner.

"I am not changing my offer," Mycoskie said. And Carson accepted the deal.

Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to "Shark Tank."

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