RuckPack Before Shark Tank
Rob Dyer is an active duty member of the United States Marine Corps, a professor, a father, a husband, and the mastermind behind RuckPack. RuckPack is a caffeine-free energy drink produced for and tested by Marine Special Operations Forces in Afghanistan. Dyer claimed that it blew other energy drinks out of the water because it lacked that all-too-familiar crash. It was good enough for snipers in the military, so it must be good enough for the general public. When soldiers have five to seven day missions, supplied with only what they can carry, every ounce makes a difference. Dyer claimed he would do his best to push forward even without a deal in the Shark Tank, but an investment would be a welcome solution to unfilled orders and high demand.
RuckPack During Shark Tank
Decked out in Marine fatigues, Rob Dyer immediately struck some mix of fear and respect into the hearts of the sharks. “Don’t mess with him,” Robert warned Barbara. Dyer asked for seventy-five thousand dollars, in exchange for ten percent of his company. Based on experience in the field and conversations with other soldiers, Dyer decided that mental and physical exhaustion was a major problem in the military. In a combat situation, nothing less than one hundred percent attention was acceptable. Caffeine jitters or crashes were just as great of a danger, potentially leading to loss of life. Dyer passed out some samples, but Robert had some trouble opening the bottle. Dyer joked that a couple shots of Rucksack should give him the strength. To drive home the point, he clarified that Rucksack was developed for combat, but it would just as well allow civilians to face their struggles and stay in peak condition.
Mark Cuban spoke first, thanking Dyer for his service. Forgoing pleasantries, Kevin wanted to clarify the marketing strategy. RuckPack would be advertised as catering to the higher standard of Spec Op Forces. Kevin summed up the effort to reach the general populace as “This is better than anything else because it’s good enough for you.” Dyer confirmed and claimed that there was already high demand for the energy shot from civilians. Family and friends of service members heard about the product straight from the source. He hadn’t spent a dime on marketing. However, inventory was running low. RuckPack had made it onto some independent store shelves, but these units were long gone, and the company was nearly out of money. After the arrival of another order in one to two weeks, there would be almost no cash on hand.
The sharks would get back to this issue, but first they wanted more information on the product itself. Daymond wanted to hear the significance of the “RuckPack” moniker. Dyer explained that a ruck pack contains all of the necessary resources needed by soldiers in the field. His energy shot would carry the same concept, providing all of the necessary nutrients to boost performance. Nothing more. It was efficient and essential. After looking closely at the packaging, Kevin was worried about its legal ramifications. The bottle sported claims that the drink was prepared for Special Operations Forces, but Dyer reassured him. Such a claim does not require official endorsement by the Marines. Barbara inquired into proprietary information, hoping the formula couldn’t be copied by other players. Dyer assured her that, despite legal requirements to disclose certain ingredients, there was still secrecy to the formula itself.
Robert cited marketing as the greatest challenge for Rucksack, moving forward. How would Dyer push the military angle and also sell his product to the general public? For general consumption, Rucksack would be sold as a nutrition shot, akin to a daily vitamin. It would be healthier than other options on the market. This was interesting, as it opened the door for sales in health food or sporting goods stores.
With all of his commitments, the sharks wanted to make sure that Dyer had time for the project. He was an active duty member of the military and an accounting professor at the Naval Academy at the time the episode aired. If he had a full time job as a professor, how much time could he dedicate to RuckPack? Despite assurances that his days as a professor ended at four every afternoon, Mark wasn’t completely convinced.
Daymond wanted to know where his potential investment would go. Previously, depleted inventory had stalled the business in its tracks. Dyer hoped to put all seventy-five thousand into scaling production. This way, he could both fill orders and reduce production costs by thirty to forty percent. In about a month, RuckPack had sold fifteen thousand bottles, totaling thirty thousand dollars in sales. Half of the price of inventory was due at the time of order, so having money in the Rucksack coffers was critical.
After Dyer referred to “we” several times in his presentation, Barbara wanted to know who this was. He clarified that he did have partners in the business. In fact, he had fifteen of them, complicating matters. Between Rob and his wife, the family owned about forty-five percent of the company. Most of the remainder was held by other military families. In total, partners in RuckPack had invested about two hundred forty thousand dollars, with ninety thousand from Dyer personally.
This was quite an investment for thirty thousand dollars in sales. Where did all of it go? The greatest expenses thus far were research and development, web presence, and inventory. Specifically, this amount covered the first order of shots that had been sold, the eighty thousand on the way, and another twenty thousand caffeinated units. Selling all of these units would net another two hundred thousand dollars in sales. With an inability to keep RuckPack in stock and fulfill orders as the greatest obstacle, Robert called Dyer’s business model into question. How sustainable was a company where the owner had to constantly sell equity to stay afloat? Dyer assured him that the current order’s revenues could be reinvested into the company. The seventy-five thousand he was requesting would just prevent a backlog.
With most of their questions answered, it was time to narrow the field. Daymond was the first to go, stating that he already owned equity in similar businesses. It wouldn’t make sense for him to take on a partner that would eat into their sales. Barbara was the next to leave the negotiations. While she loved Dyer’s story (and even seemed to have a crush on him), there were two things she couldn’t get over. First, he still seemed too early in development after two hundred forty thousand dollars of investment. Who was to say that taking the business to a larger audience wouldn’t uncover more unexpected expenses? Also, she wasn’t comfortable with him only having forty-three percent interest (his wife owned two percent.) This number would drop lower with another investor, and there would simply be too many cooks in the kitchen. Kevin brought up that each partial owner of RuckPack, not just Dyer, would be diluted, but Barbara had made up her mind.
In an uncharacteristic display of confidence, Kevin not only made Dyer an offer, but he made him a good one. In fact, Kevin offered exactly what Dyer asked for, seventy-five thousand for ten percent. Normally, he would be one to squeeze an entrepreneur for every last point of equity, but he had a certain faith in Dyer and in RuckPack. He believed the story of an energy drink for service members that could be sold to the general public, and he knew consumers would, too. Rarely does an entrepreneur so easily get what he asks for. Mark simplified things by reiterating his earlier concerns. He also believed in the business but worried that Dyer would be too divided. “Business doesn’t work after 4pm, and it doesn’t work on a schedule.”
Robert was the only loose end. He disagreed with Mark, believing that “Marines always find a way.” He knew that Dyer was committed to the business and wouldn’t be distracted by his day job at the Naval Academy. In addition, he thought Dyer could use some more capital. He was prepared to match Kevin’s offer, meaning one hundred fifty thousand dollars for twenty percent equity. While this would keep RuckPack at the same total valuation, it would also alleviate inventory woes and prevent another situation like the current one. Kevin agreed, and after a brief moment of consideration, Dyer accepted the deal. The three men shook hands and began scheming to take out Daymond’s energy drinks. Dyer was excited for the future, proclaiming that “With twice as much money, we can kick twice as much ass.”
Rob Dyer may not have entered the Shark Tank with a perfect pitch, but he hit all the strong points. Most importantly, his story was compelling enough to differentiate RuckPack in the competitive energy drink and supplement market. Although RuckPack had low revenue numbers compared to his personal investment, after the inventory problems were solved, his proposed valuation was right on target. Perhaps most of all, his status an active duty Marine added a dose of authenticity. Consumers would look for a spokesman they could trust, and Rob Dyer was just the man for the job. Kevin O’Leary has also mentioned using Shark Tank as personal advertising. He may be known as Shark Tank’s Mr. Wonderful, but his real wealth comes from other investment opportunities. By partnering with an active duty Marine, Kevin and Robert have done wonders for their image.
RuckPack After Shark Tank – 2018 Update
The Shark Tank showrunners have given us several opportunities to get reacquainted with RuckPack and Rob Dyer. Prior to the Shark Tank deal, RuckPack had done annual sales in the tens of thousands. In the ten months directly following RuckPack’s air date, sales have climbed to nearly half a million. Kevin and Robert join Dyer for an unusual celebration. With its success, RuckPack has sponsored a private jet, advertising to millions. The best news is yet to come. Dyer has also just signed a deal with Walgreens that will place its energy shots in nearly nine thousand stores. This deal alone is worth four million dollars in revenue.
As a thrill-seeker in his private life, Robert loves watching the inaugural flight of the RuckPack jet. Dyer is grateful to his new partners for more reasons than money. During their time together, both Robert and Kevin have been there whenever RuckPack was in need. He feels like they care deeply for the success of the company and the team behind it. Dyer’s Shark Tank deal has taken his business from thirty thousand dollars in sales to top contender status in the energy drink market, unheard of for a new entrant. He can’t believe how far he has come in such a short time.
We’re given the chance to catch up with RuckPack again in season six with a special segment. RuckPack has taken Rob Dyer somewhere he never dreamed of: the White House. No, he wasn’t elected president, but close. The White House has invited Kevin, Daymond, Robert, and Rob Dyer to the nation’s capital. They’re accompanied by Paige and Ashley of Stella Valle, who are veterans themselves. The sharks, along with their military partners, have been invited to speak at a Champions of Change event. The event celebrates veteran entrepreneurs and aims to ease veterans into civilian life by educating them in good business practice.
Preceding the event, the Shark Tank team listens to some words of encouragement for veteran entrepreneurs from Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to the president. The Shark Tank investors and entrepreneurs are excited to honor veterans and give advice to would-be businesspeople. The main idea of the presentation is skill and passion. So much of entrepreneurship comes down to willingness to do whatever it takes and to put your all into a company. “Find a problem, solve a problem. The business comes second,” is Robert’s advice.
At the event’s reception, the Canadian Kevin O’Leary waxes poetic about the United States. “This is the epicenter of freedom in the world. Of capitalism, of the American Dream. With Shark Tank and the White House working together, we can inspire a whole new generation of entrepreneurs to make our economy grow even faster.” It’s fitting that our glimpse into RuckPack ends on a positive note. While Shark Tank fans may love the ruthlessness of the sharks or the zany pitches, it’s the creation of jobs, the fulfillment of dreams, and the existence of hope that makes it such a hit.