Marz Sprays – Conception and Development
As the father of two sons who had refused throughout childhood to take any kind of pills at all, Keith Marz began to experiment with the idea of producing a range of sprays that were a more palatable alternative to tablets. Eventually he developed, along with his son Brandon, a range of vitamin supplement sprays that were intended to alleviate the problem for the millions of Americans and further millions Worldwide that he believed were troubled by a similar dislike of swallowing pills.
Marz Sprays on Shark Tank
When Keith and Brandon Marz appeared on the Shark Tank in October 2012 to show off their range of oral sprays targeted towards the health conscious, they were seeking $200,000 in exchange for a 10% equity interest in their business.
They began their pitch by sharing with the sharks their belief that over 100 million people in America, did not like taking, or had difficulty swallowing pills. Keith followed this by telling the sharks that even though a vitamin pill ‘might look like its the size of Pittsburgh’, you might only absorb ten to twenty percent of the vitamin C contained within it. Keith explained his motivation for developing the range of Marz sprays, a full line of oral sprays to boost health and wellness, after witnessing the discomfort his own children had displayed swallowing pills.
Brandon began a quick explanation of the five sprays that the business produced, along with their relative benefits. C-Spray was the multi-vitamin immunity blend, containing the same amount of vitamin C as 114 oranges. Kids Spray contained nutrients from a wide range of fruit & vegetables. Slim Spray had been developed with the help of medical professionals to reduce food cravings. Reboot was the Marz energy spray, containing what Brandon called a ‘megadose’ of vitamin B12, he emphasized the value of Reboot, declaring that a consumer who bought one energy shot everyday for one month, would spend over $100. The Reboot spray would last for a month, yet retailed at only $14.99. The final spray was Sleep Spray, which contained several well-known ingredients proven to aid restful sleep, including Valerian Root and Melatonin.
With the initial pitch over, Robert Herjavec and Kevin O’Leary both quickly requested a sample of the energy enhancing Reboot spray, with their fellow sharks also agreeing to try it, although not as enthusiastically.
‘Get rid of the Sleep Spray’ Robert quipped, as the samples were handed out.
The sharks sampled the Reboot spray, it didn’t seem to be going too well, as disgusted looking expressions appeared on the faces of Robert and Kevin. ‘That’s got an awful taste’ said Robert, never one to mince his words. But Lori Greiner seemed to like it, ‘That’s chocolate’ she explained ‘Its because you don’t like sweets’.
Brandon showed the sharks one of the infomercials that had been produced to promote the Sprays. This particular infomercial was for the C-Spray, and although it was short, the impression it made on the sharks was fairly sweet. It was well made and professional looking, containing a professional actor, slick editing and high production values. The sharks were impressed and displayed positive reactions to it.
Daymond asked how the sprays were a solution to the problems of people who did not like taking pills. Keith spoke up, beginning with the re-iteration that 100-150 million people could not swallow pills. That was as far as he got before Daymond interrupted him, asking what the data for that statistic was based on. Brandon named a large market research company responsible for the study that had indicated such a large figure.
Mark Cuban was less than impressed with the whole package. He launched into a tirade against the product and the whole concept of the business. He pointed out that large manufacturers of vitamin supplements had long been producing alternative methods of delivery for their products. Brandon was looking hot and bothered while Keith explained there was no market leader in the field and Marz sprays could take that place. Mark wasn’t convinced, he seemed amazed that Brandon and Keith wanted to compete with everyone else in the market.
Robert Herjavec, with his usual directness, commented ‘Mark, I think you took a different spray than I did, you seem very irritable’.
That seemed to send Mark over the edge, ‘Its a scam’ he declared, to shocked looks from The Marz family, ‘Its a hustle right?’
Kevin O’Leary stated his belief that the whole supplement market was a hustle. Turning to Keith Marz he mentioned that he knew the supplement industry was a multi-billion dollar market but was surprised it hadn’t been mentioned in the pitch, ‘Why didn’t you just say that? Do I have to say it for you? What’s wrong with you guys?’ he barked.
The energy spray appeared to be working fairly well as all the sharks seemed fairly hyped-up by now. Robert asked Brandon ‘What did you give us in this?’. Keith answered ‘Lots of B12, its very good for you’
‘It works’ confirmed Robert, waving the bottle around happily.
The question of sales came up at this stage, as Kevin O’Leary sampled another few sprays of Reboot, he looked a lot less disgusted by the taste on the second try.
Brandon began a disjointed history of the spray range business, when the Slim Spray alone had been sold in a few retail outlets. ‘Give me a number’ Kevin interrupted ‘I’m jacked up on B12’ he continued, producing a smile from Mark.
Brandon confirmed that during a nine-month period, the company had managed approximately $125,000 dollars in sales. When pressed for a total sales figure, he admitted that the full range of products had only been available for nine business days. The sprays had however, been showcased at the largest vitamin supplement conference in the World where they received an ‘overwhelming’ response. Kevin joined in, announcing that Nature Made, one of the forerunners in the supplement market, had requested an appointment with them.
‘Now that’s interesting’ said Kevin. Under further questioning, Brandon explained that Nature Made were interested in licensing the products, as they didn’t have the capability to produce the sprays themselves.
Some of the sharks were looking slightly more interested now, their interest heightened even more when Brandon announced that the company had five pending purchase orders worth over a million dollars.
The sharks jumped on the ‘pending’ element of the orders, and under further inquiries, Brandon explained that an international conference appearance had attracted interest from companies in seven different European countries. The reason for the orders only being pending was due to each individual countries equivalent of the FDA having to pass certification on the products before they could be sold. Brandon confirmed that a French consultant had been hired to assist in the process and tried to downplay the issue, rationalizing it as a minor inconvenience.
Daymond didn’t quite see it that way, he spoke of his experience in this area and stressed the many potential issues that would need to be sorted first, and the potential length of such a process. Brandon countered with his expectation that the process would take 60 to 90 days, but Daymond was still unconvinced. The whole issue of international regulation had obviously left an unpleasant taste in his mouth and with little pre-amble he dropped out of the negotiations.
Robert Herjavec thought the product was effective ‘This Reboot stuff really works’ he confirmed, but he continued less encouragingly. He wasn’t a fan of the supplement market generally and didn’t see the benefit of such products to society, stating that he found the whole thing ‘hard to swallow’ he also quickly dropped out.
Unsurprisingly, Mark Cuban launched into a quick dismissal of the business, clearly completely unimpressed with the whole concept, mainly due to the unprotected nature of the product and the strength of the competition. Keith Marz had one final attempt to win Mark over but it was never going to work, Mark quickly dismissed him with a wave of his hand, ‘I’m out’.
Brandon made a direct appeal to Lori Greiner at this crucial stage ‘Together we can make a lot of money’. Lori showed the first sign of potential encouragement for the Supplement spray business, she liked what the business was doing and announced she would make then an offer, Mark Cuban face-palmed at this, clearly thinking Lori was making a mistake.
Lori offered the requested $200,000, in exchange for 30% of the company but stressed that the offer only stood if the Nature Made deal succeeded. Impressed by Lori’s interest, Kevin then suggested that they could become joint investors in the business, proffering a figure of $250k investment in return for 40%. Lori considered the idea briefly, but ultimately declined it, saying ‘I’d rather do it alone.’
Kevin then made an offer that didn’t involve Lori, $200K for a 25% stake.
Robert summarized both offers on the table while Keith and Brandon contemplated their options, but Lori quickly improved her offer, to match Kevin’s exactly, a $200K investment for 25% of the business.
Brandon asked if the deal could be amended to include a redemption option for he and his father to buy back half of the equity, in exchange for three times the investment. Lori was prepared to accept this, but only in exchange for four times her initial investment. Kevin spoke up about his dislike of such a deal, clearly unimpressed at a suggestion that would lose an investor half their equity when all the risks to a business had been negated.
Brandon made a final attempt to improve the offer from Lori, suggesting a figure of only 20% equity in exchange for $200K, but she wasn’t interested and made it clear. Brandon gave up with any further negotiations and confirmed that he would accept Lori’s offer.
As Keith and Brandon left the Shark Tank, Mark piped up with a final dig ‘You got hustled Lori’, and seemed to get support from all the other sharks, who were less than impressed with the final result. Lori stuck by her guns, still convinced that she had been the winner amongst the sharks on this occasion.
Marz Sprays After Shark Tank – 2018 Update
Its been a rocky road for Keith and Brandon Marz since the show first aired. With the increase in publicity that their products received on the show, they struck deals that placed their products in thousands of retailers both in America and abroad. Sales surged to over $1 Million.
They almost lost everything in 2014, when a deal with Walgreens turned sour. A dispute over unpaid bills ended up in court after a prolonged and expensive legal case, but ultimately Walgreens were found guilty of breach of contract and the Marz Sprays business survived, although it had been touch and go for a while.
Marz sprays continue to sell well online and the range has been extended even further. There are a variety of products available online, from a variety of different vendors. The presence of the company is strong and professional looking and the blog section of their website has a wealth of health-based and nutritional information.
Brandon was interviewed in 2014 after the launch of The Marz Sprays European product line ‘Vita Tonics’, and he was full of optimism for the future, promising incredible growth in 2016 and beyond. The Marz Sprays don’t seem to have set the world of vitamin supplements on fire so far, but the growth of the company appears to be steady and constant, even if it couldn’t be called incredible.
I’ll be trying out the Reboot Spray after seeing how it affected the sharks. If it gives me a fraction of Brandon’s determination to succeed it’ll be worth every cent.