Duderobe Before Shark Tank
Designed for guys, the DudeRobe is an entire lineup of towel-lined loungewear―more specifically, the set includes a robe, shorts, and pants. Stylish yet comfortable, it allows men to “lounge like a boss”, according to their website. Not only does it feature premium hoodie material on the exterior, but it’s also made out of a super absorbent material for quick and easy drying. Currently, the full set sells for $189, while each of the individual pieces ranges from $65 to $129. For those who are interested, you can check out their official store here.
The brainchild of Howie Busch, DudeRobe launched in the summer of 2017 through Kickstarter. Allegedly, he had come up with the idea after seeing his wife wear her bathrobe. Realizing how comfortable she looked, he wondered whether or not there was a way to “revolutionize” the regular robes for guys. After some pondering, he concluded that it’d be “pretty cool” to wear a towel as they’re absorbent and comfortable―there was just one problem though, “towels aren’t cool to wear.”
In the end, it wasn’t until he saw his wife’s bathrobe hanging next to a hoodie on a hook, that a lightbulb lit up in his head―that is, he’d wear a towel if it resembled something like a hoodie. With that, he hopped in his car, drove to Walmart, and bought six towels. Teaming up with his tailor, they created several prototypes over the next week. Trying the different pieces out (e.g. robe, sweatshirt, shorts, etc.), he knew he had a winner.
Designed to resemble sweatshirts/pants, it became obvious that its highlight was that it can be worn both in and outside of the house. With its comfort level and absorbency, it can also be used to wipe away water or sweat.
In need of more funding for the project, he eventually launched a Kickstarter in May 2017. To his surprise, they were fully funded with $25,000 in just two day’s time. In total, they had raised well over $50,000, with the help of over 400 backers. Starting an “after-party”, Howie later launched a second campaign on Indiegogo in August 2017. Just as successful as his first endeavor, if not more so, he went on to raise an additional $77,000+ from the platform. Adding the numbers together, he had more than raised more than $100,000, which was more than enough to start production.
Before long, his invention had started to gain buzz across the country. Not only was it talked about on various radio stations across the country, but BroBible also did a blurb about the product. From there, several companies began to reach out, expressing interest in licensing the DudeRobe. Finally, something big happened—a producer for ABC’s hit reality series Shark Tank contacted Howie through Twitter. With support from his family, friends and community, he decided to jump at the opportunity.
By late 2017, it was announced that he would be appearing in the ninth season of the series. The episode later aired on January 14, 2018. What happened on the show? Let’s find out.
DudeRobe On Shark Tank
Seated on a red sofa, Howie introduces himself as a native of Long Island, New York, before telling them that he is seeking $150,000 in exchange for 18% of his company―Duderobe.
Launching his pitch, he admits that he’s not a fan of bathrobes as they “kind of suck.” Standing up, he elaborates by saying that he wouldn’t want to be seen in one as “it’s kind of creepy.” Not only is it creepy, but wearers also risk having their private parts exposed in public, he says.
Continuing, he shares that men’s bathrobes have not changed at all for the past 200 years. As a result, he explains, he took it upon himself to redesign it into something guys would want to wear. Just as he finishes talking, a model appears next to him, donning his product―the Duderobe. “The most bad-ass loungewear for men”, he goes on to explain that it is a mix and match collection, which consists of “four dude-friendly pieces.”
Gesturing towards the model, he points out that the collection consists of a hoodie, pants, robe, and shorts. Going on to describe the product, he states that each piece contains comfy and absorbent towel lining on the inside to soak up wet sweat and premium sweatshirt material on the outside to “give it that streetwear vibe.”
Continuing, Howie says that the loungewear can be worn both in and out of the house. Elaborating on that point, he exclaims that it is “perfect for after the shower, beach, working out, or just lounging around.” With that, he leaves the sharks with one question―“who would like to jump out of the tank, into something more comfortable?”
Wanting them to see the product up close for themselves, he proceeds to hand out some samples to the sharks. Just before doing so, however, he notes that they will have to share the four pieces. Curious, Raymond asks why there are only four. Answering the question, Howie admits that he has run into some manufacturing issues after their Kickstarter.
As soon as he finishes saying that, Lori asks him about his background. In response, Howie reveals that he had started to negotiate contracts since the first year of law school. Building an agency at the time, he explains, he eventually received a call from a guy, who was interested in having him do a contract for him. Due to his life circumstances at the time, however, he reveals that he did not accept equity from the company, Underarmor―which today, is worth around $250 million.
Almost immediately, Kevin comments that he is in a very competitive market, to which Howie agrees. Gesturing towards what he’s wearing, Lori subsequently comments that people can get “hoodies and shorts anywhere.” Defending his product, Howie reiterates the fact the Duderobe products are lined with towel. Despite his best efforts, however, the sharks do not seem to be sold on the idea. In fact, Lori asks, “the only difference is that it’s lined with towel?”
Backing up, Howie decides to tell the sharks what he’s done with the products so far. As the sharks look on, he reveals that he had launched a Kickstarter in June, which successfully raised $65,000, which was well over their $25,000 goal. Curious, Lori asks him what sold the most, to which she is told “the whole set.”
Surprised, the sharks subsequently ask about the product’s price. Replying, Howie states that the whole set sells for $219, which garners a negative response from everyone. To his dismay, Mark eventually chimes in to say that the Duderobe looks like a normal sweatshirt and sweatpants.
While he admits that the quality is nice, the shark states bluntly that there isn’t any way for individuals to know what it is “until they get their hands on it.” Nodding, Howie can only look on as he continues to talk. Eventually, he tells him that he will be dropping out, much to his dismay.
From there, Robert asks the creator what his wife thinks of the idea. Laughing, he tells him that she loves it. Almost immediately afterwards, however, he states that he will be backing out. Next, Lori voices some concerns―not only does she feel that the product looks typical, but she also points out the act that guys tend to be “hot all the time”, which might end up making it all counterintuitive. Noting that it’s also heavy, she eventually becomes the third shark to back out.
Thanking her for her time, Howie goes on to give his attention to Robert, who begins to talk next. While he admits that “he is farther ahead than most people”, he expresses that he finds it difficult to understand the product. Not knowing where he’s trying to go with it, Robert soon also backs out of a deal, which understandably leaves the creator a bit disappointed.
Facing towards Daymond, Kevin goes on to nudge him about the product. In response, he tells Howie that it’s never good to be in the middle when you’re selling products. Elaborating, he states that one should either aim for either the “high-end or low-end.” Reiterating the fact that the Duderobe is “compressed in the middle”, which makes the endeavour challenging, the last shark also drops out.
Disappointed, Howie looks at the sharks as they wish him all the best. Thanking them all one final time, he and his companions eventually exit the tank. Disheartened by the turn of events, he states that they’ve missed out in the subsequent interview, as his segment on the episode ends.
DudeRobe in 2018 – The After Shark Tank Update
Two seasons have passed since DudeRobe was featured on ABC’s Shark Tank. Unfortunately, Howie had failed to get an offer from one of the shark—how is he and the company doing nowadays?
Despite the fact that Howie wasn’t able to get a deal on the show, the popularity of DudeRobe has risen significantly over the past several months. According to a recent interview with the creator, sales increased tremendously following the episode―in fact, they even sold out of certain items! Not only that, but the team has been inundated with positive reviews from customers, some have even been re-ordering the items in different styles and colours.
In terms of what’s on the horizon, they’re currently planning on a few new styles, in addition to a “DudeRobe for Her” (many women have inquired about a female version).
What Customers Think of the DudeRobe
If anything, the DudeRobe has received nothing but positive reviews from customers. In fact, some have liked it so much, that they’ve reordered some of the items in different colours, as mentioned earlier. Allegedly, some women have even been “stealing” their husbands’ and boyfriends’ DudeRobes.
On the front page of their official website, there are also a number of five-star reviews from happy customers. Looking at the comments, they all seem to agree on one thing―that it’s super comfortable.
DudeRobe’s Web Presence
Since their appearance on Shark Tank, DudeRobe’s online following has steadily been growing. Across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, they currently have well over 1,000 followers. Given that they continue to release new products, it’s likely that their fan base will continue to grow.
Will we be seeing Howie Busch back on television anytime soon? Unfortunately, seeing as how he didn’t manage to land a deal on the show, the chances are slim that he will be returning to Shark Tank. Nonetheless, the company seems to be doing fairly well today.