KidRunner Before Shark Tank
KidRunner founder and designer Will Warne came from Bend, Oregon, a location well known for its picturesque beauty and numerous running trails, and Will, who was a keen runner himself, looked for a way that he could enjoy running while still being able to spend time with his young family.
Although there were many other baby jogging strollers already on the market, Will believed that he could design a safer, lighter and more comfortable product that would be easier on runners, while also giving them the security that a design based around safety would provide. Will eventually came up with the basic concept of the KidRunner, a jogging stroller that unlike all the others on the market, would be pulled along behind a runner, rather than being pushed in front of them.
Will founded the KidRunner company alongside two other partners and sought funding from the Crowd funding site Kickstarter to finance the cost of producing a finalized product, but unfortunately the investors at Kickstarter didn’t share the KidRunner vision and the campaign didn’t reach its target goal. Undeterred Will and his partners continued improving and developing their product until they believed they had a product worthy of a Sharks attention, and after successfully auditioning for the show, Will eventually appeared in the Tank in April 2016.
KidRunner On Shark Tank
It there is one attribute that the Sharks love to see in a potential partner, it’s plenty of energy and enthusiasm, so they seemed initially impressed when Will ran into the tank accompanied by Champion road-runner Max King who was pulling Will’s daughter Sophie in a KidRunner.
Will announced he had a go-to-market investment opportunity for the Sharks, and he was looking for a $500,000 investment, in exchange for 20% of the KidRunner business. The entrepreneur explained that KidRunner was the World’s first, and only, high performance, all terrain and hands and arms free kid jogger.
Will revealed that American parents spent $1 billion annually on childrens strollers and joggers, and breaking into that huge market was the long-term aim of the KidRunner business. Robert Herjavec looked surprised at the billion dollar figure, but he also appeared a little skeptical that the market could be quite so large. Will continued the pitch, explaining that the KidRunner had been tested in competitive races, and had even been used by runners who had completed marathons whilst using one, and he stressed that this was the product that every parent who enjoyed running had been waiting for,
Robert Herjavec is not just a Shark and a business mogul, he’s a man of action too, particularly when it comes to running. Robert has spoken in the past about the therapeutic effect that running has on him and the stress relieving benefits he gains from the exercise, and Robert was quick to ask Will if he could try the KidRunner for himself.
Will was happy for Robert to sample the Kidrunner and Robert experienced how easy it was to run with the KidRunner, and Sophie in tow. After a quick sprint up the corridor and back again Robert agreed that the KidRunner was comfortable to use and far better than other Kid Jogging strollers he had used in the past when his own children were young.
Barbara Corcoran asked Robert to run while turning to see how safe the KidrRunner was on a curve and Robert complied, then she asked him to run backwards, ‘Run Robert, run’ added Kevin O’Leary, but by now Robert had done all the necessary product testing and he wasn’t going to be following any more orders from his fellow Sharks. Will next demonstrated how easy it was for Sophie to get out of the KidRunner, and Barbara observed that Sophie didn’t seem too happy, suggesting she may have been feeeling a little sick from all the movement, but Will was quick to reassure her that the research & development on the KidRunner had eventually produced a smooth and bump-free ride for children. As Sophie left the tank at a run, still not smiling, Robert remarked that Kevin always had the same effect on Children, namely scaring them to silence, but Kevin had bantered enough and wanted to move on to the business end of things now.
Kevin told Will that with his own extensive experience in products designed for children he could see the appeal of the KidRunner, but the size of the potential market concerned him. He believed that only parents who also ran, and who wanted to run with their children would be interested in the product, and the number of potential customers could be severely restricted due to that limited demand, but Will had an answer for that.
The Entrepreneur told the Sharks that four million children were born each year in the United States alone, and among the parents of those four million children there were 400,000 who considered themselves runners and would be interested in purchasing the KidRunner. Robert Herjavec however didn’t necessarily agree, he told Will that he was fond of running long distances, and he didn’t think he would be comfortable taking his children on such a long run without being able to see them and know that they were safe.
Will was quick to reassure Robert about the safety aspects of the KidRunner. He told Robert that his product was completely safe, and had been designed to exceed the safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). Will asserted that it was impossible for a child to fall out of the KidRunner and the patented Waist harness was specifically designed to allow a runner to easily turn around and check on their child without any problems.
Robert next asked how the KidRunner could be easily stored in a car, and Will explained that the final design would include quick-release wheels to enable it to be quickly packed away, Robert asked for a demonstration of that but Will admitted that this version had wheels that were bolted on. Barbara asked why the wheels had been bolted on and Will told her that the KidRunner in the Tank was a ‘Go to market’ prototype that had been rigged to demonstrate the product in the tank only. He reminded the Sharks that he was offering a go to market investment opportunity, which seemed like a revelation to a few of the Sharks, but Mark Cuban had been paying attention and mentioned that Will had been ‘up-front’ about that fact from the beginning of the pitch.
With a greater understanding of what Will was offering an investor in the KidRunner business Lori Grenier confirmed that the product was not actually on sale at the moment, and Will asserted it wasn’t, Lori then asked how much the KidRunner would retail for. Will disclosed that the price would be approximately $750 and Robert Herjavec cried out in surprise, clearly thinking $750 was a lot of money to pay for a child Jogger, but Kevin O’Leary was quick to come to the defense of the price, pointing out that he had seen prams that retailed for as much as $2,500.
The Sharks asked a few more questions that Will fielded well, Mark Cuban asked how much had been invested in the prototype, and Will told him that it had cost about $73,000 so far. Barbara Corcoran asked if the company had any pre-orders on its books, and Will answered the question in part by explaining that KidRunner had a list of over 1,200 potential customers who would be ‘interested’ in purchasing one when they became available. Barbara then asked if those 1,200 customers had paid a deposit already, but Lori interrupted before Will could answer and asked if he and KidRunner had raised any other funding.
Will explained briefly about the failed Kickstarter campaign, telling the Sharks that although the campaign had a $100,000 goal, only about $7,000 had actually been raised, he also admitted that the prototype still had ‘about 10%’ of technical issues still to be fixed before the design was perfect
Kevin O’Leary was still waiting to hear how he could sell millions of dollars worth of KidRunners, and when pushed for answers by him Will embarked on a long explanation of the research and development phase of the product design, he mentioned that they had been working on the design for ‘Years’, and Robert inquired why it had taken so long to get to the current stage. Will amended the time-frame and admitted that yes, for three years the KidRunner design team had been working on solving the many complex technological, engineering and design problems that had needed to be overcome.
Barbara Corcoran had heard enough, she was kind to Will but told him she believed he was a ‘Careful Plodder’, who potentially would never actually get the perfected version of the KidRunner into the marketplace. Due to that, Barbara was the first Shark to drop out of the negotiations.
Unfortunately for Will, Barbara’s viewpoint was shared by her fellow sharks, Mark Cuban was quick to assert that Barbara was absolutely right, and Robert Herjavec also agreed. Robert told Will that the KidRunner business had to start taking orders, but he believed that Will was the sort of designer that would continue tinkering with the design and trying to make it completely perfect, without taking that next vital step of taking deposits from pre-orders, and because of that Robert was out too.
Unsurprisingly Mark Cuban was quick to follow Robert in dropping out, he believed Will was a perfectionist who would take 73 years to perfect the design to his own high standards, and with that Mark was out too. Will took another rejection well, but more bad news was to follow. Lori Grenier told the entrepreneur that even though she did agree with Barbara, she also found the KidRunner ‘Unengaging’, and although she wasn’t personally a runner and had no experience of the activity, she still felt that the KidRunner had some safety issues, and due to that she was out too.
Kevin O’Leary didn’t leave Will waiting for too long before he delivered the final rejection of the KidRunner business, he told Will that with his experience of the childrens products market he believed that gaining customers would be the businesses biggest challenge, and a huge problem for the company, and for that reason Kevin was out, leaving Will without a deal in the Tank.
KidRunner Now in 2018 – The After Shark Tank Update
Immediately after the segment Will asserted that when the KidRunner finally became available, customers would have a great amount of trust in a company that had spent so much time and money on developing such a safe and well-designed product, but by then the Sharks had almost forgotten all about him and were back to their customary banter, Robert Herjavec was observing that the Sharks had never all agreed with Barbara Corcoran before.
Within a month of the KidRunner segment first airing, the company had begun to offer pre-orders for customers, with an attractive 20% discount on the retail price of $750, and the response from customers was so enthusiastic that the KidRunner website crashed due to the influx of visitors, but there was at least the promise of KidRunners finally becoming available to the public, with an expected time frame of four months before they were ready for shipping, but unfortunately that deadline came and went without the KidRunner ever materializing.
In April 2016 the company also announced a partnership with the World’s largest childrens bike manufacturer, WeeHoo, which would see the KidRunner soon to become available in over thirty countries, but as of the present time, that objective has also failed to become a reality.
The KidRunner website is currently claiming that with the new WeeHoo partnership pre-orders should be able to be shipped out in ‘approx’ nine months, but the partnership announcement on the WeeHoo website has now been removed, and it seems that the final step of making the KidRunner avilable to customers is still some way off. Only time will tell if Mark Cuban’s estimate of 73 years to finally see the product available was unfair or completely unjustified, but for the moment, the KidRunner is just going through a few last-minute design tweaks, but it’s going to be here very soon, Will just has to get it totally perfect first.