Brazyn Life Before Shark Tank
Nate Lawrie was an All-American tight end at Yale, who began his professional football career in 2004 with the Tamba Bay Buccaneers. He had a stint with the Philadelphia Eagles later that year, and returned to the Buccaneers the following season. In the third year of his professional career, Nate moved to the New Orleans Saints, but mid-season he suffered from a back injury that put him out of action for the rest of the year.
Nate had a herniation in two lumbar discs, a potentially career-ending injury, but he refused to give up his sporting dreams. He hid the extent of his injury from coaches and used painkillers before every practice, but he couldn’t sustain his training regime for long with the amount of pain he was in. Nate was sleeping on the floor as he needed a hard surface to rest on, and when he got married later that year, he even spent his honeymoon visiting physical therapists, one of whom showed him how to use a foam roller to help with his back injury.
Foam rollers are a tried and trusted way for athletes to keep muscles healthy and elastic, as well as to aid recovery and reduce tension, and Nate was devoted to using one for the rest of his career, in fact, he credits the training device for extending his NFL career for a further five years. But foam rollers are bulky, heavy and annoying to travel with, so Nate developed his own roller, one that had the unique ability to collapse into a flat pad, making it easy to store in a gym bag or suitcase, and it only weighed 1.5 pounds, making it considerably lighter than the usual bulky roller.
Nate built a prototype of his collapsible roller, which he called ‘Morph’ due to its shape changing ability. It could take his 260-pound weight without collapsing, and in late 2015 he turned to Kickstarter to raise funding for an initial manufacturing run. The campaign was a big success, Nate’s original aim had been to raise $30,000, but when the campaign ended one month later, 739 backers had raised over $65,000.
Brazyn Life On Shark Tank
When Nate Lawrie came to the Shark Tank, with his business partner Tom Hopkins, to pitch the Brazyn Life Morph roller, he was asking for a $225,000 investment, in exchange for 10% of the Brazyn Life business.
Nate began the pitch by explaining about his NFL career, and how he had used a foam roller to overcome his back injuries and stay in peak fitness throughout his career. The foam roller had been a ‘Lifesaver’ for him, but it was bulky, inconvenient and a pain to travel with, so the Morph roller had been designed to overcome those disadvantages. The Morph roller was the World’s first collapsible roller, able to easily fit inside a small gym bag. It was light and took up the same amount of room as two shirts when collapsed inside a suitcase. Tom gave a quick demonstration of the roller, and Nate finished the pitch by asking if any of the sharks would like to give it a try.
Kevin O’Leary was quick to reveal that he used a foam roller, and he thought there was a market for the product, but it was Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban that sprang up from his seat and took off his jacket for a quick workout in the tank. Mark admitted that there were about 350 different rollers in the Mavericks locker room, and Nate remarked that they probably took up a huge amount of room. After Mark had tried the roller out for a minute, Nate showed him how easily the Morph could be collapsed back to a flat, easy to store shape, just by pressing buttons on the ends of the roller.
Tom was handing out samples of the Morph roller to the other sharks, while Nate explained that the design had been geared towards ease-of-use. He told the sharks that the covers were transferable and washable, and Daymond John asked if Nate had designed the Morph roller himself.
Nate explained about the back injury he had picked up in the third year of his professional career. He told the sharks about his discovery of the rejuvenating properties of the foam roller and asserted that it had been invaluable in extending his career by another five years, but traveling with it was a pain, and he had developed a prototype using items from a hardware store. After testing it with his own 260-pound weight, without it collapsing, he knew it could be a successful product.
Sara Blakely was the guest shark in the tank that week, which was a stroke of luck for Nate and Tom, as the Spanx CEO was one of a group of investors who bought the Atlanta Hawks in 2015 for $730 million. Sara was clearly aware of the widespread use of foam rollers by professional athletes. She asked if there were any other collapsible foam rollers on the market, and Nate confirmed that the Morph was the only one at the moment.
Sara asked if the Morph roller was patented, and Tom confirmed it was patent pending in the United States, as well as in Canada, Europe, and Australia. Kevin O’Leary inquired if anyone had ‘Knocked it off yet’, which the entrepreneurs had already answered, but they reiterated that there was nothing like it on the market.
Mark Cuban wanted to know about the numbers, he asked how much the Morph roller sold for. Tom confirmed that it retailed for $68, and on the first production run the cost was $26.75 per unit, which made Mark wince. The discussion moved on to the average price of rollers, which Nate admitted was lower than $68, but he also asserted that the cost price could be reduced to at least $20 per unit by the next production run. Nate moved on to the sales figures quickly. He revealed that revenue so far had been $50,000, but sales for the next twelve months were projected to be $2.4 million, with a 20% net profit margin, and revenue figures that involve the word ‘Million’ always get the sharks attention.
Mark asked what Tom and Nate needed from a shark partner. Nate admitted that Mark, as a team owner, could give name recognition to the business, which gave Sara the opportunity to point out that she too was a part-owner of the Hawks. Lori Greiner asked where the Morph roller was being made, and Nate told her that Brazyn Life made them in Romania, in a manufacturing facility that they owned, which impressed the sharks. Nate explained that the facility was actually owned by his wife’s father, and Brazyn Life was allowed to use space in it, but it did explain why he was so confident that manufacturing costs could be substantially reduced in the future.
Kevin O’Leary queried the $2.25 million valuation, remarking that he didn’t think Brazyn Life was worth that, but Nate defended the figure, reminding Kevin of the $2.4 million in projected sales, and telling him that the company was not even selling through Amazon yet, which would increase sales substantially. Daymond John interrupted before Kevin O’Leary could respond, stating that he loved the roller, and wanted to get the ball rolling with an offer. Daymond wanted a 15% stake in Brazyn Life, in exchange for the requested investment of $225,000.
Kevin was quick to make his own offer, which was the $225,000 investment in exchange for 20% of the business. Kevin also believed that one video of him in his underwear using the roller, would be enough the make the Morph fly off the shelves, but that only provoked a bout of slightly disgusted laughter from the other sharks. ‘That could also put you out of business’ remarked Sara.
Sara thought there were challenges involved with the Morph Roller. She had shot to success with Spanx thanks to an appearance on Oprah, and she described Brazyn Life’s appearance in the Shark Tank as their ‘Oprah moment’. But Sara had reservations about the comparatively high price of the Morph Roller, and found the profit margin on the product ‘Really concerning’. Sara was interested but she wanted to hear what Mark Cuban had to say before making an offer, and so did Lori.
However, Mark had a surprise in store for everyone in the Tank. ‘I’m out’ he announced. Nate asked if Mark could explain why he wasn’t interested, but Mark offered no more information, ‘It doesn’t matter’ he replied. Mark may have been put off by Nate’s admission that he wanted someone with name recognition as a partner, or he may have been annoyed by Lori and Sara waiting for his offer before they made their own. Mark knew that Lori would be a perfect fit for the Brazyn Life roller with her QVC connections, but whatever his reasons for dropping out, he wasn’t going to explain them.
With Mark out of the way, Lori now had an offer to make. She told Nate and Tom that she could ‘Blow up’ interest in the Morph roller with QVC infomercials, and if Sara joined forces with her then she could promote the product in the sporting market too. Sara was agreeable to the idea and let Lori decide the terms of the offer. Lori offered the $225,000 investment, but in exchange for 20% of the business, and of course, Nate and Tom would get two shark partners instead of one.
Kevin O’Leary hadn’t got much interest in his offer of a video of him in his underwear, so he offered to join forces with Daymond, in the same deal, $225,000 for 20% of the business. Daymond agreed to the partnership, leaving the entrepreneurs with two identical offers involving a duo of sharks. Kevin pushed for a decision, did Nate and Tom accept his and Daymond’s offer, or instead partner with the ‘Sharkettes’, but with four sharks fighting for a deal, Nate was in a strong position and made a counter offer instead.
Nate suggested an increased investment of $250,000, in exchange for 20% of Brazyn Life. Lori asked why they needed the extra $25,000, and Nate explained that the figure gave them more cash to grow, and improved the valuation of the business. Kevin and Daymond were happy with the offer and began shouting that they would accept it, but Lori asked Nate who he was making the counter-offer to.
It was clear that both teams of sharks would accept the deal, which led to Nate and Tom holding a whispered conference to make a final decision. After a few tense moments, Nate confirmed that he and Tom would love to partner with the ‘Sharkettes’. Lori and Sara quickly accepted, to the obvious displeasure of Kevin and Daymond, but particularly Kevin, who scowled as the entrepreneurs and their Sharkette partners sealed the deal.
Brazyn Life Now in 2018 – The After Shark Tank Update
Despite the unexpected rejection of Brazyn Life by Mark Cuban, Nate and Tom’s appearance in the Shark Tank was without a doubt successful, but since the show first aired in October 2017, there have been some supply problems, as well as positive developments for the company.
The good news is that the Brazyn Life roller is highly rated, both by professional athletes, and millions of roller users who just love the easy-to-pack and lightweight uniqueness of it. Reviews of the product have been overwhelmingly positive, despite the relatively high price. InsideHook selected it as their ‘Foam Roller of Choice’ in a review in January 2018, and RunnersWorld.com included it on their list of best foam rollers due to its soft foam, perfect for those who are new to rolling, as well as the ease with which it could be collapsed and sprung back into shape.
The quality of the Morph roller has also been praised, it’s not only unique in design but strong and durable too. It can deal with 260 pound Nate, but it’s actually designed to withstand up to 350 pounds, which the company proudly states makes it perfect for even sumo wrestlers. Although I could find no trace of a QVC appearance for the roller so far, in June 2018 the company announced that it was coming to ‘A retailer near you’ soon, and the product is now available in 26 Scheels stores across thirteen states.
Brazyn Life has had some supply problems since Shark Tank, presumably caused by the rush of interest after the show. The company ran out of stock for a period of time until late May 2018, but the company website now has Rollers available once again. The Morph roller is now listed on Amazon, but they are still quoted as being currently out of stock. The company has expanded their range of items slightly since Shark Tank, and different Morph covers, or ‘Skins’ as the company labels them, are available to customize rollers. There is also now a roller extension kit available, which can combine two rollers into a 30-inch version so that it can be used for more movements. And if there’s one thing that we can all be grateful for, it’s that none of us have to be subjected to a video of Kevin O’Leary in his underwear.