DrainWig Before Shark Tank
Jennifer and Gifford Briggs, from Salem, Utah had a problem at home that led to them creating the DrainWig. They actually had five problems, in the form of their five daughters, but it wasn’t the daughters that were the problem, it was their long hair.
The DrainWig is an innovative and original device that catches hair, making it easy to remove before it can clog a shower drain. One day, Jennifer had a moment of inspiration when she was in the shower. A piece of dental floss had gone down the drain and caught hold of a huge clump of hair that had been blocking the pipe, but Jennifer was able to pull most of it out with the floss. Gifford realized that the solution to his regular shower unblocking sessions, admittedly a dirty job that no-one enjoys doing, was at hand.
A three-year-long period of experimentation followed, during which the shower in the family home became the laboratory for testing various prototypes until eventually a DrainWig prototype was perfected. Jennifer and Gifford’s inexpensive and useful device was not hard to sell, in fact before they ever came to the Shark Tank, they sold millions of them. But even though the DrainWig was stocked in Bed Bath & Beyond, Walmart, CVS, and Walgreens, as well as sold through Amazon and QVC, Jennifer and Gifford needed a Shark Partner to improve the deal they had signed with an infomercial company, which was only giving them a fraction of the profits.
DrainWig On Shark Tank
Jennifer and Gifford entered the tank with their solution to a hairy problem and announced to the sharks that they were looking for a $300,000 investment, in exchange for a 5% share in DrainWig. The sharks were instantly dubious at the valuation, with various cries of ‘Boy’ and ‘Wow’ in response to a 5% share of anything for so much money, but the entrepreneurs moved on, introducing their five problems into the tank, in the form of their daughters, or the ‘Professional drain cloggers’ to give them their correct title.
It was clear that, with the exception of Gifford, there was a lot of hair in the Briggs household. Gifford explained about the ‘Wet hairball nightmare’ that was the inevitable result, and which left him with a ‘Dirty and disgusting’ job to do every few months, cleaning all of that hair out of the shower. But Jennifer told the sharks that the DrainWig solved the problem effortlessly, and without fuss. It could simply be put down the drain, and the whiskers attached to the stainless steel chain would collect the hair, and after two to four months it could simply be removed and replaced, all without anyone ever having to touch that tangled mess of hair.
There was also a version of the DrainWig for the bathtub, with a suction cup to attach it to the side of the bath, so that the stopper could still be used. The professional drain cloggers handed out samples to the sharks, before leaving Mom and Dad to work out a deal with the sharks, and Lori Greiner began the questions by asking how Jennifer and Gifford had originally come up with the idea.
Jennifer explained about her moment of inspiration. She had originally thought that a gopher was stuck in the shower drain, but after Gifford had investigated, and found a massive wad of hair stuck to the dental floss, the couple realized that they could make a useful product that would end the misery of shower unclogging for people everywhere. It was obvious that this was a useful product, with a potentially huge market, but the huge valuation was a big problem for the sharks, who rarely show an interest in less than 10% of a business.
Daymond John moved the discussion on to the numbers, ‘What does it sell for, what does it cost to make?’ he asked. Gifford revealed that a double pack of the DrainWig cost $1.20 to make, and sold for $9.99. Kevin O’Leary was impressed, ‘The profit margins are excellent’ he remarked. Daymond inquired where the product was currently being sold, and the answer to that impressed all the sharks too. DrainWig was in ‘All big box stores’, including Bed Bath & Beyond, and Walmart. ‘You’re everywhere’ observed Lori Greiner, and the $6 million valuation was starting to seem a little more reasonable to the sharks.
Kevin asked the golden question, ‘What are the sales?’. Gifford revealed that so far DrainWig had achieved $14.2 million in retail sales, and the interest from the sharks ramped up another step or two. Lori asked if DrainWig was sold through infomercials, and Jennifer and Gifford confirmed it was. So with excellent sales and extensive distribution already in place, Lori wanted to know why Jennifer and Gifford had brought DrainWig to the Sharks.
Jennifer explained that she and Gifford had known nothing about the cleaning products industry when they first developed DrainWig. They had begun taking their product to trade shows, and after one such show, they had been contacted by an infomercial company. They made a three year deal with the company that gave them a royalty on every DrainWig sold, but even after $14.2 million in sales over the last three years, they had only received $800,000 in royalties. Shark Tank producers had edited many of the details of the infomercial deal out of the program, but it was clear the percentage of the profits going to Jennifer and Gifford was anything but generous.
Guest shark Sara Blakely asked if the couple shared the equity of DrainWig with anyone else. Gifford admitted that although they had raised capital through venture funding previously, they had now repaid their investors with the royalties they received, and they now owned 100% of DrainWig. Kevin O’Leary summarized the situation, Gifford and Jennifer had received only $800,000 after $14.2 million in sales, or about 5.4% of the total revenue, and they were in the tank because they wanted the ‘Lion’s share’ of the profits. Sara Blakely was even more succinct, ‘You made a bad deal’ she asserted, and Jennifer and Gifford agreed that was the problem. They wanted to take control of their product back and build a company around it.
Essentially, DrainWig needed a shark partner to negotiate deals, and help create an infrastructure for the business from the ground up. It was an unusual situation and a potentially hugely profitable one for any partner, but Mark Cuban wasn’t interested. Mark saw many potential challenges in the future for DrainWig and didn’t want to ‘Re-invent’ the DrainWig business for Gifford and Jennifer, and with that, he was out.
However, Kevin O’Leary was prepared to face those challenges, but not for 5% of the business. Such a small stake wouldn’t get Kevin ‘Out of bed in the morning’. Kevin wanted at least 20% of the business and was prepared to do a deal for that now. He told Jennifer and Gifford that they needed a ‘Really nasty friend’, to help them out of the deal they were currently in, and he was that friend.
Sara Blakely explained that she had taken on bad deals when starting Spanx, and she had encountered dubious business practices from competitors, but she had learned a great deal from her experiences and held on to 100% of her company. Sara wasn’t interested in a deal with DrainWig, but she told Jennifer and Gifford that they too could build a company on their own, and emerge with 100% of the business to themselves. Daymond John wasn’t interested in 5% of DrainWig either, but although he had an offer to make, it wasn’t an improvement on Kevin’s. Daymond’s deal was the $300,000 investment in exchange for 20% of the business, exactly the same offer as Kevin’s. ‘That sounds familiar’ Mr. Wonderful remarked, but Jennifer and Gifford looked anything but enthusiastic about giving away 20% of DrainWig.
Lori Greiner had a third offer for the entrepreneurs to consider, but that wasn’t an improvement either, in fact, it was worse. Lori would pay the $300,000 in exchange for 25% of the business, but she asserted that retail and infomercial were her ‘Sweet spot’, hence the higher equity required. The Giffords weren’t snapping up any of the offers, and the equity involved was clearly the problem. Gifford asked if any of the sharks would be interested in $300,000 for 10% of the business. Lori And Kevin virtually ignored him, while Daymond replied ‘I don’t think you heard us, we gave you the offers’.
The three sharks with offers on the table were clearly playing hard-ball, and unless the DrainWig duo was prepared to offer more equity, negotiations were going to clog up like a drain without a DrainWig. Gifford came back with another counter-offer, this time putting 15% of DrainWig up for grabs, but there was silence again. Jennifer asked the sharks if they knew what the biggest complaint in hotels was, and that seemed to break the deadlock.
With the huge potential market for DrainWig in hotels now being considered, Daymond began speaking in a much more positive tone, ‘You know what, I like it’, he began, but that was as far as he got. Kevin O’Leary interrupted him by sudden exclaiming ‘I’ll do it’. Jennifer responded before Daymond could utter another word. ‘You’ll do it? It’s a deal’ she replied to Kevin. And before Lori even had time to catch up, Mr. Wonderful had just become the really nasty friend that Jennifer and Gifford needed.
Kevin got up to shake on the deal, and all the sharks congratulated Jennifer and Gifford, who had performed exceptionally well in the tank, but Daymond couldn’t resist a side-swipe at Kevin ‘You swooped in like a buzzard, you’re disgusting’ he told his fellow shark, but Kevin just smiled at the compliment.
DrainWig Now in 2018 – The After Shark Tank Update
DrainWig was an unusual pitch for the sharks to consider. The sales were excellent, the retail connections had been made, and the profit margin was impressive. What Jennifer and Gifford Briggs needed was exactly what Kevin O’Leary had offered to be, a shark friend with teeth big enough to negotiate a far more profitable deal for them. And they also got a partner with the ability, and resources, to help them build a company from scratch around their useful product so that all of the profits would come back to them, minus Kevin’s 15% share of course.
The nature of the creation of the company, and the deal negotiations, that Kevin will bring to DrainWig are likely to be arranged behind the scenes, and it’s not easy to measure the result of a Shark Tank appearance on a product that is already sold everywhere in the millions, but Gifford and Jennifer have been sharing a few details of the benefits of having Kevin O’Leary as a partner.
In February 2018, the DrainWig entrepreneurs joined Kevin for the inaugural annual Mr. Wonderful Shark Tank Summit, where Kevin brings together all of the partners he has made on the show, to share their insights and successful business practices. On the DrainWig Facebook page, Gifford and Jennifer revealed that they had learned a great deal at the summit and were happy to have gained a whole new family of creative, smart and driven people to help them succeed, and for the DrainWig duo, it seems to be exactly the type of help they needed.
Beyond that, no other updates on DrainWig are available. Twin packs can be purchased from the company website, or via Amazon, or just about any large retail stores near you. There’s no doubt that DrainWig will continue to sell well, and with Kevin O’Leary on the negotiating team, Jennifer and Gifford will finally be able to keep a sizeable slice of the profitable DrainWig pie for themselves. Of little consequence, but interesting for those who like to know what the sharks are like away from the tank and the TV cameras, Gifford and Jennifer proudly showed off their gift from Kevin in December 2017, a potato, with Mr. Wonderful’s mugshot, stuck to one side. So now you know what a really nasty friend like Mr. Wonderful gives his partners for the holidays.