Hoppy Paws Before Shark Tank
Trina Barkouras, from Newport Beach, California didn’t have the best possible childhood, particularly during holiday times. Her older brother passed away unexpectedly when he was still just a teenager, and it had a devastating effect on her family, who all eventually drifted apart.
Years later, when Trina was herself a parent, she made sure that her daughters would enjoy their own childhoods, and the holidays, as much as possible. One of the many ways she kept the magic alive for them was by staying up late at night at Easter, and making stencils to leave a trail of Easter bunny paw prints, leading to the Easter eggs. The kids loved the idea, and Trina’s neighbors were soon inquiring where they could buy their own print sets. The Hoppy Paws business was born with Trina supplying reindeer tracks kits for her friends to use, but the part time business was more of a fun and slightly profitable hobby, rather than a serious entrepreneurial endeavour.
Trina was a successful interior designer, yet she still dreamed of one day turning the Hoppy Paws concept into a successful business. She got her opportunity when she saw that Shark Tank producers were holding open auditions for the show in San Diego. Trina only had a rough idea of her pitch and business idea, but just a few hours after her audition, she received the news that she had been accepted, and would be appearing on the show in only three months time.
Not actually having a business, or a finished product, at that stage would usually lead to a disastrous Shark Tank appearance for most applicants, but Trina went into a frenzy of activity. In the short space of time before she pitched to the sharks she quit her job, invested over $100,000 in her new Hoppy Paws business, developed the product design, the branding and packaging, completed a small production run of printing kits and set up a trade show display.
Somehow she also found the time to watch every previous episode of Shark Tank to prepare herself for the type of questions she would be asked. Finally, after months of frantically preparing for the show, she appeared in the Tank in December 2014.
Hoppy Paws on Shark Tank
When Trina came before the sharks, antlers atop her head, she introduced herself and announced she was looking for a $50,000 investment, in exchange for 10% equity in the Hoppy Paws Business.
She launched straight into her pitch, in the form of a Christmas rhyme, extolling the virtues of magical seasonal footprints, and the joy they brought to children. The meaning behind the performance was a little cryptic for the sharks, when Trina had finished, Robert Herjavec asked what the product actually was. Trina explained that it was a stamping kit to create seasonal reindeer paw prints.
She handed out samples of the Hoppy Paws kits and explained that they were comprised of the stamps themselves, her secret magic powder and a mixing tray. Barbara asked what the powder to create the prints was made from. Trina wouldn’t disclose the secret ingredients, presumably they were too magic even for the sharks, but she did confirm it was a food based product, fully biodegradable and safe, and would easily vacuum off of carpets or wipe off of surfaces.
Kevin O’Leary saw the kits as a seasonal product, but Trina disagreed, she ran through her other stamps, the Easter bunny prints, the Tooth fairy prints and the Halloween monster prints, Kevin looked a little doubtful, declaring that Trina was ‘pushing it’ with the Tooth fairy product.
Lori asked which product was the best selling one. Trina launched into an explanation of the last few hectic months, and the creation of the business. She detailed the designing of the products, and the promotional materials, all from scratch in just 90 days, she finished by informing the sharks that she had only received the final packaged product late the previous evening, and had not actually sold any as yet.
The sharks were astounded at the amount that Trina had achieved in such a short time. The entrepreneur further revealed that she had left her successful interior design career behind, to concentrate on the Hoppy Paws business, and the sharks were even more impressed, even Kevin O’Leary seemed to be admiring the dynamic entrepreneur’s drive and enthusiasm.
There were some more questions about the cost of the product, all of which Trina answered quickly and in detail, Barbara Corcoran seemed particularly interested in her plans for any future investment.
Kevin claimed to be protecting Barbara’s interests and money when he told Trina that a business with no sales would never be worth half a million dollars, Barbara told him to let her speak for herself, but Kevin pointed at her and confidently predicted ‘You’re buying this, I swear you’re buying this’.
Trina explained about the $105,000 investment she had put into the business herself, all within the last 90 days, she elaborated on the amount she had completed in that short time. All the sharks were impressed by her dynamic can do attitude, Mark Cuban said ‘You’re a machine, I give you credit.’ but Robert Herjavec was less impressed, he dropped out, believing that the product wouldn’t be hugely popular and put off by the lack of previous sales.
Kevin O’Leary attempted to get the other sharks to join him in an offer between them, offering just $5,000 each in exchange for 50% equity, but Trina was quick to point out the much higher level of her own financial investment.
Barbara Corcoran had a surprisingly revelation, she had a similar family tradition involving Santa tracks, and knew that her own children had loved them. She thought the Hoppy Paws business would benefit by reducing some of the SKUs in its range of products, but she still had an offer for Trina. Barbara offered to supply twice the investment Trina had been seeking, $100,000, but in exchange for 50% of the business.
Trina countered the offer by asking if Barbara would consider a 49% stake instead. Barbara asserted that she believed Trina was full of more ideas in the future, and as long as they could be equal partners in any later Hoppy Paws products, she would accept the counter offer. Trina, smiling now, took little time to accept Barbara’s condition, and the new partners shook on the deal.
After Trina had left the tank, and was happily explaining how thrilled she was at the deal she had just struck, her new partner asked Kevin how he had known she would offer a deal. ‘Because you’re crazy!’ he replied, by way of explanation.
Hoppy Paws Now In 2023 – The After Shark Tank Update
The Shark Tank effect caused their sales to skyrocket. Within the first two weeks of the segment airing, they received more than 5,000 orders. Trina was understandably overjoyed, however, she soon found herself busy trying to keep up with the sudden backlog of orders. She even went as far as personally answering all of the emails that they’d received—and there were hundreds of them!
Her oldest daughter, who had been the first to enjoy the Hoppy Paws trail, also helped out with the family business.
Before long, they had moved the business from their crowded garage into a production facility. Not only that, but with Barbara’s help, they were able to hire a team of elves to help assemble the kits. Thanks to that, they were able to crank up the production process.
A year after their Shark Tank appearance, they were featured in an episode of Beyond the Tank, where it was revealed that several retailers had approached them about the product—one of them being Target. They had agreed to test out the product in 24 of their stores for Halloween. They told her that if it performed well, they would roll it out to all 1,700 locations across the country—just in time for Easter.
In the update segment, Trina also meets with Barbara to discuss the future of the company. The latter tells her which products they should focus on and which they should remove from the line. Trina also takes the opportunity to present a new Easter Bunny Footprints Kit as well as a few spinoff products including an Easter Bunny Crossing sign, a Reindeer Crossing Sign, and a candy Easter Bunny “poop.”
Barbara tells her that while she likes the creativity, she is overwhelmed with all the new ideas. She emphasizes that they should focus on selling instead but Trina tells her that she doesn’t want to sell—that her forte is the creativity. Barbara disagrees. In response, Trina reveals that they have already hired representatives to sell the product for them. After more discussion, however, she agrees to do more of the sales herself.
Barbara also tells her that she’s concerned about the Target test for Halloween—that she’s worried the monster prints won’t be strong enough to pass the test. She suggests that they switch the Halloween test to a Christmas test so that they can promote the reindeer print instead, which performs better. She also tells Trina that she will intervene if Target refuses to agree with the switch.
Taking Barbara’s advice, Trina approaches the retailer about the change. While they want to keep the Halloween test, they agree to give the company a second shot at Christmas, which satisfies both parties.
Unfortunately, however, things never really took off afterward and the company ultimately shut down in early 2019. Interestingly enough, Trina is still listed as the CEO of Hoppy Paws on her LinkedIn profile.