Swimming with the Sharks
What’s scarier than driving a race car into a corner at 200 mph?
Swimming with America’s most famous Sharks, according to PHOOZY co-founder and race-car driver, Kevin Conway.
On Friday, April 2, 2021, PHOOZY founders, Kevin Conway and Josh Inglis, pitched their spacesuit-influenced product line on ABC’s “Shark Tank.” The pinnacle of a four-year business venture involving rigorous product innovation and brand creation, Kevin and Josh found themselves face-to-face with Sharks Kevin O’Leary, Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, Daymond John and Robert Herjavec.
What Was It Like in the Tank?
As a professional race-car driver, Kevin is no stranger to high-adrenaline adventures. “Driving a race car into a corner at 200 mph is much less nerve-wracking and anxiety-inducing than walking into the tank and pitching to the Sharks,” says Kevin. “It was one of the most intense experiences of my life.”
Josh, too, is familiar with high-stakes situations. A 15-year veteran of The Home Depot, he pitched hundreds of times to business executives; still, he says that walking into the Shark Tank and pitching to some of the highest-profile entrepreneurs in the country was one of the most stressful moments of his life.
“I find skydiving and scuba diving in caves more relaxing than swimming in the tank,” Josh jokes.
It was the opportunity every entrepreneur dreams of getting and fears flubbing: a partnership with a Shark.
Chumming the Water
Josh and Kevin sought a $500,000 investment in exchange for a 10% stake in PHOOZY. The money would allow them to round out the PHOOZY team with key positions and increase their marketing efforts, helping the founders keep pace with the company’s growth. They just needed to get one Shark on the hook.
Initially, the Sharks questioned whether PHOOZY was a unique product in the industry. “There are many, many, many, many case companies,” challenged Shark Kevin O’Leary. “Are you telling me there isn’t one other that gives me heat, cold, [float] and drop protection? I’m having a real hard time believing that.”
Without hesitation, Kevin assured them there is not. “In fact, we have an issued utility patent around our thermal technology and also the drop and float components of our product,” stated Kevin. The PHOOZY phone, tablet and laptop sleeve is truly one-of-a-kind.
Kevin and Josh continued to impress the Sharks when they shared their success since launch: In their first three years, PHOOZY has seen a staggering $1.9 million through direct-to-consumer sales and a strong net profit.
“Daaaaaamn,” said Mark Cuban. “You guys are my heroes!”
Not only were the Sharks interested in Kevin and Josh’s vision, but they were impressed with the duo as operators, expressing admiration at how much the two have accomplished without employees or investors in just four years.
“You blow me away at the job you did, by yourselves, in design[ing], manufacturing and marketing [PHOOZY],” complimented Lori Greiner.
The Sharks were eating it up.
Hooking a Shark
The bidding kicked off with Lori Greiner, Robert Herjavec and Kevin O’Leary.
O'Leary offered a $500,000 investment in exchange for a 2.5% stake in the company and a $1 per unit royalty until he received $1 million. Herjavec and Greiner both made offers, igniting a bidding war among the Sharks. Kevin asked if Herjavec and Greiner would be willing to work together and combine their offers for a $500,000 investment in exchange for an 8% stake in the company and a $1.50 per unit royalty until the investment is recouped.
“We were just sitting there thinking ‘Wow, this is amazing,’” remembers Josh. “The Sharks were negotiating each other down, and we were watching the action.”
“Going into the tank you hope that one of the Sharks will understand your product, vision and its future possibilities,” adds Kevin. “When the Sharks started competing against each other to invest in us, my heart was pounding.”
Ultimately, the Phoozy founders selected the joint deal, partnering with investors Lori Greiner and Robert Herjavec.
“It was a surreal moment,” recalls Kevin. “Having multiple Sharks truly believe in our product and our brand was great validation for all of the hard work we put into PHOOZY.” (Watch the bidding war in action.)
PHOOZY is Shark Proof
The PHOOZY sleeve is drop proof, climate proof, sink proof and water resistant; now they could add Shark proof to the list.
“It was truly a dream come true to ‘swim with the Sharks’ and come out of the tank with a deal,” says Kevin. “Robert brings a tremendous amount of success and knowledge in scaling a global company, and Lori’s success in retail and taking products to the next level is unprecedented.”
“We knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we were thrilled to walk out of there with a two-Shark deal,” concludes Josh.If you missed PHOOZY’s episode, “Shark Tank” season 12, episode 19 is available for streaming on Hulu, ABC.com, Amazon Prime and CNBC. Be sure to keep an eye out for our next blog sharing what the future holds for PHOOZY.