iReTron on Shark Tank
Jason, the proud owner of iReTron, has just stepped into the Shark Tank. He is seeking a $100,000 investment in exchange for 20% of his company. As a social enterprise, iReTron is an online reclaimer’s business that buys used or unwanted electronics. Not only do they offer the highest price on the market, but they also are the greenest place for disposing of cell phones, calculators, tablets, and much more. Jason knows that all the Sharks want the biggest, baddest and newest smartphones that there is to offer; however, not everyone is the same way. Jason himself doesn’t even want the newest upcoming models, and thus, iReTron caters to the same group Jason is a part of. iReTron carries phones and products that still have some years of life left in them to people who can’t pay the full price for a piece of technology.
Using iReTron is as easy as one, two, three; step one, go on the website and receive an instant quote. Step two, ship the product, free of charge. Step three, get paid within 48 hours! iReTron is green for the planet, and green for your wallet. With the help of the Sharks, iReTron can spread all over the world. Robert asks to be walked through for an example; for example, he sells Jason his old phone… what happens next? Does Jason try to fix the phone up and sell it to somebody else? Jason says that they will inspect it, and within 48 hours, send the check. Robert asks if Jason has a guaranteed buyer on the end of iReTron, to which Jason says yes, and this has been proven.
So far, iReTron has been running for two years and they have bottomed out their inventory numerous times; no items “get stuck” without a buyer. Selling a product is so much easier than actually getting a product, and Jason admits that is what he needs to work on; he hasn’t actually spent any money on marketing or advertisements. Kevin asks what makes Jason different from the other people doing the exact same thing, and Jason says that while he is aware of the competition, the one primary thing that sets iReTron apart is that they are a social enterprise.
Simply looking at the website, iReTron accepts over 5,000 products, and some of those which have absolutely no value, and Jason gives two reasons why they accept items worth $0; the first is that it’s friendly, and the second is that they are still acquiring a customer. Kevin says that he doesn’t like to hear this, as he is being told (as an investor) that he is having less money be made for him because Jason is instead spending money on items that may not be profitable and that nobody wants. This kills the margin, Kevin says, and there are so much competition, a simple Google search would yield an infinite amount of pages that trying to scan them all would kill you of old age. However, Jason says that if you Google search “Sell my kindle,” iReTron is actually the first result to pop up.
Robert focuses on the task at hand, asking for Jason to ignore Kevin and instead focus on the rest of the Sharks. Robert asks about the sales, and Jason says that within the past 12 months, they have only made $40,000. Jason says that he doesn’t want the Sharks to look at the numbers without acknowledging the growth rate first, but Kevin says that $40,000 in the electronics industry is an “absolute nothing-burger.” Robert asks how much of that has been profit, and Jason says about 25% of it is net profit – about $10,000. Robert then asks if Jason does this full time, and since this is a segment on the “Young Entrepreneurs” episode of Shark Tank, Jason says that he is only 16 years old. All of the Sharks are blown away, as they think Jason is a college graduate; the shaved head does wonders to a person’s perceived age. Lori points out that Jason is very savvy and knows what is out there, but she asks what sets apart iReTron. Jason says that they are not 100% profit-driven, but they instead care about social consequences, profit, and the environment all equally at a ⅓ split.
Robert asks what drives Jason forward, and Jason says that there are a lot of things; he immigrated to America from China when he was only 6 years old, and always wanted to be independent and contribute rather than to take for himself. He says that he’s always had two passions in his life; one is judo, and the other is iReTron. With Judo, Jason started when he was 5 years old and made it to nationals and was about to actually make it to the United States Judo Open, until he unfortunately broke his back.
In the month he was recovering, he began reading a lot of books, and one of them was “How to Change the World” by David Bornstein. The book is about social entrepreneurship in third-world countries and how this is making a difference. Even Robert says that he just read in the Wall Street Journal that 85% of all new businesses are started by immigrants or children of immigrants. Robert admires how far Jason has come at 16, and Robert says that at the same age of 16, he was nowhere near where Jason is currently at. However, the business that Jason presented today isn’t worth the $100,000, and Robert just doesn’t see how his investment can make the business better. Robert is the first Shark out.
Mark says when he was 16, he wasn’t doing electronics, but he was buying and selling stamps. He knew what the profits were and he could move product very quickly, but the point is that Jason is forced to hustle right now. Everything right now is, “I have to go out there and figure out how to pay for it before I do it.” Mark continues on that saying introducing too much capital at once would give Jason just too much of a comfortable overhead to work with, and especially while he is still in school. Mark loves what Jason is doing, but ultimately, it scares him that the money would take iReTron in a different direction. Mark is also out.
Jason says that a large part of iReTron is inspiring the next generation, but Mark says that he needs to instead turn his focus on his own generation. Jason says that he ultimately felt it was up to him to make a solution and inspire his friends. However, Kevin notes that Jason valued his company at $500,000, and continues on to say that one test is to always ask yourself, “Could I do this myself and own 100% of it for a lot less investment?” Kevin says that there is nothing proprietary about what Jason is doing, so Jason actually failed that test. Kevin is out of the deal.
Barbara finally speaks, and says she is not sure about the business; she doesn’t know if it will win or lose, so it is a big question mark. However, Barb makes an offer of $100,000 in exchange for 20% for one reason only; she feels like Jason is a true winner. She doesn’t know how the winning is going to manifest itself, but she ultimately feels like Jason is a person that can get things done. There is a contingency, however; Jason will receive the money on an as-needed basis, as Jason is only 16 years old, despite talking like he is 30. The second one is that Barb wants to have 20% of any business that Jason thinks about and starts over the next five years. Kevin says that this is the type of greed that just disgusts him, but Barb says she would be banking big on Jason which doesn’t make sense, but she can’t help but feel that Jason is a winner.
While Lori thinks that Jason is great, and she loves what he is doing, she was prepared to make a deal, but ultimately, Barbara’s offer is a whole lot better than anything she would have offered. Lori is out, leaving Barb as the sole offerer. Mark is the last Shark remaining, and Jason returns to Mark’s earlier comments; he insists that he will never stop hustling. While Jason has been working for the past two years, he is reaching the threshold where he cannot do anymore than he can’t do since he doesn’t have the ability or knowledge. Jason asks if there is any possible way he could work with both Barb and Mark together. Mark says that if Jason does the deal with Barbara, he will split it with her, giving each Shark a 10% equity for an initial investment of $50,000. Barb agrees, and Jason agrees to the deal.
Jason of iReTron, a young man of 16, has found two lifelong partners in Mark and Barbara. As Jason is walking out, Robert remarks that Jason has just proved that the American Dream is alive and well.
iReTron Now in 2018 – The After Shark Tank Update
Sadly, it looks like Jason never actually closed the deal with Mark and Barbara. The website for iReTron has not changed, and since the Shark Tank appearance, the social media front has slowed down to a standstill. The iReTron website is still active, however, and it appears that as Jason has gone to college and found inspiration for a new business named UProspie. UProspie allows for potential students to pair up with active students to get a personalized tour of the campus, instead of a ham-fisted group tour that is simply just the same path and the same information.