Teddy Needs A Bath Before Shark Tank
Nicole Townend from Huntington beach, California knew only too well the state that stuffed toys could get into. With a young daughter of her own, Jemmely, Nicole was looking for a container that would allow her to clean her own child’s teddy bear without damaging it or her washing machine, but she found to her surprise that there was nothing on the market that was specifically designed for cleaning stuffed toys, so she decided to design one herself.
Nicole already had an inventive streak and after a year of trial and error she eventually came up with a bag that was designed to clean stuffed toys, the whole process took over a year until she had completely perfected her design but she still needed a name for her product. When telling her own daughter one day that ‘Teddy Needs a Bath’ the answer presented itself, and she knew she had hit on the perfect name.
Made entirely from natural ingredients, the bag is 100% eco-friendly cotton and comes complete with a larger than usual plastic zipper. The principle is simple, once a stuffed toy, or several small toys are sealed up in the bag it can be put in the washing machine and the toy or toys within it can be safely cleaned without the machine or the toys becoming scratched or damaged. Nicole applied for Shark Tank in January 2012 but heard nothing for some time, that is until the shows producers noticed that Teddy Needs a Bath was already being featured on the Babies R Us website.
Nicole was scheduled to film her segment in the Tank in August 2012 and embarked on a heavy program of preparation for her appearance, even to the extent of reading all of the Sharks books and watching every previous episode of the show, but just minutes before she was due to enter the tank Jemmely spilled hot coffee over herself and Nicole’s husband, Pro Skateboarder Tosh Townend had only called her to let her know that Jemmely was OK seconds before she entered the tank. Nicole must have been a bundle of nerves when she faced the sharks, but she never let it show.
Teddy Needs A Bath On Shark Tank
When Nicole came to the tank she was seeking a $50,000 investment in exchange for 10% of the Teddy Needs a Bath business. She began her pitch by describing her product as the first washer/dryer bag specifically designed for stuffed animals. She described the horror that she felt when she saw children dragging a stuffed toy along a dirty mall floor, knowing full well that the same toy would be going to bed with the child later, and knowing the tendency of children to taste everything, it would probably end up in the childs mouth at some stage.
Nicole told the Sharks that her product allowed parents to wash a stuffed toy secure in the knowledge that the toy wouldn’t be damaged, and neither would the washing machine. She demonstrated how easy it was to use, highlighting the chunky ‘Kid-friendly’ zipper and revealed that after just one wash the stuffed toy would be sparkling clean and germ free.
Nicole had also produced a childrens book, entitled ‘Teddy Needs a Bath’ that customers got with their purchase and she handed out samples of the bag and the book to the Sharks. Robert Herjavec was quick to ask what could wrong with washing a toy if the bag wasn’t used. Nicole explained that not only could a toy get damaged, but the eyes could be scratched and they could also scratch a washing machine, causing damage to the expensive appliance. Nicole elaborated about the hygiene benefits of the bag, telling the sharks that not many parents thought about the germs that would be all over their childs favorite toy, she asserted it was her mission to make every child a little safer.
Lori Grenier disclosed that she had already seen bags similar to Nicole’s product, but Nicole was quick to assert that all similar products were mesh bags, however Lori disagreed, telling Nicole she had seen cotton versions too. She asked Nicole what was to stop another business stealing the idea. Nicole replied that her bag was patent pending, and Lori asked somewhat skeptically if there wasn’t already a bag with a zipper. Nicole explained that the patent she had applied for was for a bag that was designed for washing stuffed animals specifically, but Lori didn’t seem convinced.
Mark Cuban jumped in, asking what the bag cost to make, and what level of sales had been achieved so far. Nicole told him that the bags were made overseas and cost $2.25 each to manufacture, but they sold with a great profit margin for $14.99. She explained that the company had launched six months previously with a feature on the Today show, and the bags had been featured on the Babies R Us website for the last four months. Since then approximately 200 units had been sold, and those sales had been achieved with only word of mouth advertising to promote them.
Robert Herjavec asked what the total value of the sales for that period had been and Nicole revealed they had been worth $12,000. Kevin O’Leary wanted to know if Nicole had spoken to any big box baby stores about her bags, she confirmed that Babies R Us were happy with the product and had asked her to meet with them to discuss retailing opportunities at their stores. Lori was still looking doubtful and asked Nicole if Babies R Us were enthusiastic about selling the bags, Nicole revealed that Babies R Us had told her they loved the bags and wanted to trial them in their brick and mortar stores nationwide.
Nicole suddenly revealed that she was also selling drying sheets that would go into the dryer and leave the toy with a ‘fun and funky’ smell. She revealed they were the only dryer sheets that were impregnated with pleasant smells and she handed the sharks a large stuffed bear so they could smell it for themselves. All the sharks agreed that the bear smelled great when it was infused with a ‘cotton candy’ smell, and Daymond suggested that the dryer sheets were potentially a more lucrative product than the bags.
Lori loved the dryer sheets too, but she was not so sure about the bags. She told Nicole that she could see there was a need for them, but she couldn’t estimate how big the demand would actually be. She believed it was too early for Nicole to be able to assess the size of the market and she mentioned again she had already seen a very similar bag, and for that reason Lori was dropping out.
Mark Cuban, as the father to three young children understood how useful the bag was, but Robert Herjavec was quick to assert that Mark never actually did any washing himself. Mark may be a billionaire, but he insisted he did all the washing in his house. As the other sharks laughed he asked Robert when was the last time he had done a load of washing. Robert Herjavec passed on that one by saying ‘Anyway…’ and turned back to Nicole. He admitted he was unsure if parents would be prepared to pay $14.99 for the bag but Mark Cuban clearly thought they would, ‘In a heartbeat’ he replied before Nicole could get a word out.
Nicole told Robert that many other retailers, including giant chains such as CVS, Target and Walgreens had all asked for samples and expressed an interest in selling her bags, but Robert was still doubtful. He told Nicole he thought the business was ‘Interesting’ but he was unsure if there would be much of a market for the bags, and due to that he was out too.
Daymond John spoke next, he told Nicole that with such a big valuation he believed the company needed more time and a proven sales record to prove that it was worth so much. He felt that Nicole’s appearance in the Tank was a little too early in the life of the company, and because of that reason he was also dropping out.
Kevin O’Leary looked happier than I’ve ever seen him as he cuddled the stuffed bear, and he told Nicole that as a child he had been allergic to house dust, and because of that experience he felt a connection with what she was doing. Nicole asked him if he was one of the 30% of men who travelled with their teddy bears, but it was Robert Herjavec that instantly shouted ‘Yes!’.
Kevin told Nicole that he didn’t believe her company was worth half a million dollars, but he did have an offer for her. Kevin’s deal would see Nicole receive the requested $50,000, but in exchange for 50% of the business, with a 10% royalty on all sales until the $50,000 was repaid, after that the royalties would drop to 5% in perpetuity.
Nicole didn’t looked too keen on giving away half of her business, but fortunately Mark Cuban had another offer for her. Knowing that Nicole would need all the funding she could get he would supply $100,000 in exchange for 40% of the business, and upon hearing that Kevin quickly amended his offer from 50% equity to only 30%. Mark’s offer hopwever was still technically better than Kevin’s and Mark urged Nicole to ‘Do the math’.
After a quick conference with her husband outside the tank Nicole came back, but Kevin had something else to say, he told Nicole that if she didn’t accept his offer ‘The Bear dies’, but Nicole had a counter-offer, not for Mr Wonderful, but for Mark Cuban.
She suggested a $100,000 investment in exchange for 30% of the business with a 10% royalty imposed until the investment had been repaid. Mark Cuban instantly accepted the offer with ‘Done, done and done’ and got up to shake on the deal.
Kevin O’Leary sat with the bear on his lap and simply said ‘That’s it, the bear dies’.
Teddy Needs A Bath Now in 2018 – The After Shark Tank Update
Not every deal made during filming of the show is completed, and the deal struck between Nicole and Mark Cuban in the tank never materialized, but the Texas billionaire did support Nicole and Teddy Needs a Bath in other ways. He eventually loaned her the money to finance large purchase orders and arranged cheaper financing deals for her. Nicole later described Mark’s help as the biggest favor she ever got and was overjoyed at the help and assistance Mark gave her in growing the company.
In November 2013, during season five of Shark Tank there was an update on the Teddy Needs a Bath business and there was plenty of progress to report on. Since the show first aired Teddy Needs a Bath had seen its products introduced to 450 Babies R Us stores nationwide and the company was on track to achieve over a million dollars in sales that year for the first time, but there was even better news for Nicole and her family. The Worlds oldest Teddy Bear manufacturer, Gund, had signed a licensing deal with Nicole where they would deal with the manufacturing and distribution of her products, leaving her free to concentrate on the creative side of the business.
With the freedom that having such a supportive business arrangement with Gund gave her, Nicole and her family achieved their lifelong dream and moved to Hawaii, and a beaming Nicole admitted that her appearance on Shark Tank, and the assistance she had received from Mark Cuban had made all of her dreams come true.