Kwik Hang Before Shark Tank
Tom Burr, from North Attleborough, Massachusetts spent most of his life working in the jewelry business, but in 2013 he devised an ingenious way to hang curtains without the need for the mess or expensive tools. Tom’s idea was to create a curtain rod holder, attached to a simple bracket, that could be fixed to the top of a window frame. The idea was incredibly simple, but amazingly enough, no-one else was supplying a similar product.
Tom created a prototype made out of cardboard and found a manufacturer who agreed to produce a small run of 30 units of the first Kwik Hang brackets. He sold that first batch on eBay and they were gone within minutes. Realizing he had found a product that was original and useful, Tom launched the Kwik Hang company. In 2014 Tom expanded the range of products to fit different size curtain rods and introduced a range of colors. He also applied for and received, four patents on his original design.
Sadly, in April 2016, Tom passed away, and the business was taken over by his son Derrek, a serving police officer and veteran of the Marines, who applied for Shark Tank the following year and got the opportunity to pitch the Kwik Hang business to the sharks in mid-2017.
Kwik Hang On Shark Tank
When Derrek Burr came to the tank he was seeking an $80,000 investment in exchange for 20% of the Kwik Hang business. He began his pitch by explaining to the sharks that Kwik Hang was a simple solution to a ‘Dreaded’ household task. He told the sharks that as a police officer, and a former marine, he had faced many challenges during his life, but none of them had been as difficult as installing curtain rods.
So Derrek may have been slightly over-dramatic about the difficulty of hanging a curtain rod, but as anyone who has ever taken on the task knows, curtain rods are one of those fiddly household chores that can easily go wrong and descend into a search for missing tools, extensive damage to walls and a fair amount of shouting and/or profanity. Derrek continued the pitch by explaining that Kwik Hang curtain rods were a one-of-a-kind solution to the problem, the patented design made existing curtain rod hardware obsolete, and Kwik Hang brackets enabled the user to hang a rod in seconds, with no measuring or drilling required, and no visible damage.
Derrek was promising a revolution in curtain hanging, and a demonstration was clearly the only way forward. ‘Blink and you’ll miss it’ he warned the sharks, and although the demonstration wasn’t quite that fast, it was impressively quick. Derrek simply placed a Kwik Hang bracket above a demonstration window frame, gave it a few quick taps with a hammer, and repeated the process on the other side. Just like that, the curtain rod was fixed to the frame, and less than 30 seconds after starting the demonstration, the curtains were in place.
The sharks were impressed at the ease with Kwik Hang could be used, but Derrek wasn’t finished yet. He announced that he would hang two ten pound bags of potatoes from the curtain rod to prove how strong the Kwik Hang bracket was, ‘I do that all the time’ remarked Kevin. ‘No Fuss, no muss, and no plaster dust’ Derrek announced, as he hung the potatoes from the sturdy device with no sign of strain, and with the pitch over he urged the sharks to not leave him hanging, as the window of opportunity was open for them to join the Kwik Hang business.
The pitch had gone well, Derrek’s demonstration had been quick and impressive, and the sharks even forgave him for a couple of bad puns at the end of it. Derrek handed out a few samples in a variety of colors, as Robert Herjavec and Mark Cuban congratulated him on the pitch. Lori Greiner was the first shark to ask a question, she wanted to know if the half-inch hook that held the curtain rod came in more than one size, and Derrek confirmed that the brackets were also available in a one-inch size.
Lori, perhaps unsurprisingly considering her QVC experience, knew a lot about curtain rings, and she asked why Derrek wasn’t supplying brackets in sizes larger than one inch. Derrek explained that his father had started the company, and had started with ‘What the customers wanted’. Lori asked why a one and a half inch bracket couldn’t be produced, and Derrek told her that it was possible to produce a larger bracket, but due to the expensive tooling costs involved, he had not ‘got there’ yet. Derrek elaborated on the history of Kwik Hang, he explained about his father’s background in the jewelry business, and that he had passed away recently. It was clear that the company was more than just work to the entrepreneur, he was also heavily emotionally invested in what he saw as his father’s legacy.
Robert Herjavec moved the subject on to sales. Derrek revealed that in the last three years total sales had been $120,000, not a huge amount, but Derrek explained that annual sales had increased from $31,000 to $42,000 in the last year, again not a large amount, but a steady increase in revenue. Mark Cuban inquired about costs and profit margins. Derrek told him that the single bracket kit cost $3.15 to make, and sold for $10.95, while the double kit, which held two curtain rods, cost $4 and sold for $17.95.
Robert Herjavec asked how the sales were made. Derrek told him all sales were through online channels, through the Kwik Hang website and eBay, and he had also just signed a deal with the online DIY retailer House. Mark Cuban remarked that $31,000 a year in revenue before expenses wasn’t enough to live on, and asked what Derrek did full time, and the entrepreneur told him that he was a serving police officer. Lori Greiner asked who was running the company in the meantime, and Derrek told her he was operating the business at the same time as his full-time job, he also revealed that he had made only $7,000 profit the previous year, as he had been trying to grow the Kwik Hang brand.
Kevin O’Leary had a few observations to make about the Kwik Hang business. He thought the packaging needed to clearly illustrate exactly what the product did, which he saw as a challenge, and he ruminated about potential distribution deals with a manufacturer of curtain rods. Kevin admitted that the deal being offered was a reasonable one, the product was sound and the company wasn’t over-valued, but Kevin also saw a lot of challenges to be overcome, and he asked Derrek who would do all the work while he was employed full-time as a police officer.
‘You’re looking at him’ Derrek replied and explained that the business was his last link to his father, and he would be prepared to retire from the police force in order to work full time for the company, but Kevin had doubts about Derrek’s motivation for running the company. He asked if Derrek wanted the business to grow in honor of his father’s idea, or because he really wanted to company to reach the next level.
It was a diplomatic question from the usually abrupt Kevin O’Leary, and Derrek’s reply was mainly about his father’s legacy. It was clear the entrepreneur had several motivations for running Kwik Hang, and profitability was only part of the story. Kevin remarked that with sales of around $30,000, and profits far lower than that, Derrek wouldn’t be able to support himself by working at Kwik Hang alone, but Derrek answered that he had achieved those figures by working part-time in the business. With a shark behind him and full-time commitment he believed he could greatly increase sales.
Mark Cuban wasn’t convinced. He told Derrek that considering the amount of ‘Blocking and tackling’ to be completed, he didn’t think the entrepreneur was ready for a partnership yet. He didn’t believe Kwik Hang was an investible asset until Derrek had figured out concrete ideas about how to grow the company, and due to that Mark was dropping out.
Lori Greiner was thinking along similar lines, she thought the company required a huge amount of effort to grow, and she asked Derrek if giving up his job and concentrating on doing that for years was really what he wanted. Lori wasn’t interested in a deal, but she did have some advice for Derrek, she suggested that with four patents on the product, it would be far easier to license Kwik Hang brackets to a large company with the manpower to distribute and promote them.
Daymond John wasn’t going to be making an offer either, as he too thought Kwik Hang needed to grow far bigger before it was a worthwhile investment, but he advised Derrek to grow the company steadily and slowly, rather than giving up his job and going all out to make it a success. That way the entrepreneur could take his time to learn the best way to expand the company, without having to worry about paying the bills.
Kevin O’Leary agreed with Lori that a licensing deal was Derrek’s best strategy. He thought the four patents were a great asset, and advised Derrek to chase a royalty check of $50,000 a month. He called the Kwik Hang pitch a ‘Beautiful story’, but ultimately he thought it was a business that was hard to invest in, and with that Kevin dropped out too.
The last hope for Kwik Hang in the tank was Robert Herjavec. Robert thought the business was great and had a great purpose behind it, but he also suggested that Derrek should keep his full time job and concentrate on building the business before finding an investor. Robert wished the entrepreneur all the best for the future, but in the end the price point was too low for him right now, and Robert dropped out too, leaving Derrek Burr and Kwik Hang without a deal in the tank.
Kwik Hang Now in 2018 – The After Shark Tank Update
After Derrek’s appearance on Shark Tank, some viewers felt that his business was selected by producers more because of the story behind it, rather than because it was a suitable investment for the sharks. There’s no doubt that all of the sharks considered Kwik Hang to be far too small to invest in, and with a long way to go before they would consider making an offer, but the Kwik Hang brackets received a lot of attention because of the segment too, and that has been almost unanimously positive.
Reviews of Kwik Hang products generally praise the ease with which the brackets can be installed, but there are complaints that the one size fits all design doesn’t allow for non-standard sized windows, or three window units. Derrek has announced that new products are in the pipeline, with new sizes, a larger selection of colors, and curtain poles to create a complete curtain hanging kit all being considered for the future. In an interview with Heavy.com in October 2017 he revealed that his long term aim is to partner with big-box retailers such as Lowe’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Home Depot.
In April 2018 Derrek signed his first retail deal, with Ace Hardware, to supply Kwik Hang products in selected Ace Hardware stores. Considering that Ace Hardware is the biggest hardware cooperative in the World, with more than 5,000 locations globally, it’s an encouraging development for the company. Another boost came in July 2018 when BusinessInsider picked Kwik Hang brackets for their list of ‘16 Shark Tank home products that are actually useful’.
You can keep up to date with the latest deals at the Kwik Hang website, where Derrek offers a full 30 day money back guarantee for any dissatisfied customers, or alternatively on the Kwik Hang Facebook page, where there are frequent updates on a range of DIY subjects, and an average review rating for the company of 4.4 out of 5 stars.