Little Burros Before Shark Tank
Gardening is a time-consuming task requiring various tools, large and small. With no gardening-tailored toolboxes on the market, it could be difficult to keep track of all the tools needed while gardening. Bob Thorsen, the father of five children, invented a perfect solution while helping his wife with gardening; he created Little Burros.
Bob first came up with Little Burros while he was helping his wife with her garden. He designed the tray with a cardboard box using hand-crafted materials. The design worked well, and Bob presented his invention to his five children. The children supported him and helped him start a business to sell his product. The Thorsen family hired an industrial designer to help design the Little Burro as a viable product to be sold in the market.
Mollie Thorsen, Bob’s daughter and Becca’s sister, was the most active in helping her father start Little Burros. The Thorsen family founded the company together in 2013. Little Burros quickly found its way to shelves across the country in major retail stores such as Target, Lowes, and Home Depot.
While working on the business, Bob’s daughter, Becca Thorsen, tragically died due to an unforeseen illness. The Thorsens were grief-stricken by the tragedy. Becca was an active member of A21, an anti-human-trafficking organization. She fought hard against human trafficking around the globe. As a tribute to Becca, Little Burros started donating the profits of Becca’s shares in the company to A21 in hopes of abolishing human trafficking.
Work on Little Burros halted as the Thorsens dealt with Becca’s loss. When the family wanted to continue working on their business, Bob and Mollie decided they needed help. They signed up on Shark Tank to find a business partner willing to help re-establish their presence in the market and grow the brand line by introducing new products.
Little Burros on Shark Tank
Bob and Mollie appeared on season 11 of Shark Tank to pitch Little Burros to the Sharks. They demonstrated their product to the Sharks and explained its functions and uses. They stated that each Little Burro is produced in the United States.
Bob and Mollie told the Sharks their backstory: Bob was a Washington DC general contractor with five children; three sons and two daughters. Mollie graduated with an art history degree but was inspired by her father, so she decided to help him run the business. She explained that her sister, Becca Thorsen, was Little Burro’s CFO; however, she passed away, leaving the family grief-stricken. Mollie and Bob wanted to ensure their daughter’s legacy lived on through Little Burros.
The father-daughter duo was seeking $250,000 for 10% of the company. Mollie cited that the company sells 2,500 units per month and is in major big-box retailers nationwide. Little Burros had made $400,000 in sales from the beginning of 2019 till the moment of filming. They stated that Little Burros was in Ace Hardwares, Menards, and Targets nationwide. Each Little Burro costs $10.50 landed to produce, sells for $25 Free on Board (FOB), and retails for $39.95.
Mollie claims that Little Burros needs the money to build a brand line and expand the company to include new products. Bob stated that the Thorsens had invested $1 million into the company since the time of filming. He also stated that the Little Burro had a design and utility patent. The family spent $500,000 from the $1 million on design, engineering, and mold.
Barbara Corcoran was the first one out of the tank. She claimed she gardens herself but had never used a wheelbarrow before, so she couldn’t relate to the product. Therefore, she was out.
Mark Cuban stated that he doesn’t garden. He wouldn’t know what to do with the product, so he was out.
Daymond John loved the business, but he didn’t know where he would go with it if he invested in it, so he was out.
Kevin O’Leary was interested, but he knew a family-owned business would struggle with shares and equity, so he made a royalty deal. He offered $250,000 for a 7% stake in the company and a $7 royalty until $500,000 is paid.
Lori Greiner was also interested; she offered Bob and Mollie $250,000 as a loan at a 6% interest rate for 3% of the company and a royalty of $5 per unit until $250,000 is recouped.
Barbara advised them not to take any of the deals as they would not be beneficial for the company. Mark agreed. After some discussion amongst themselves, Bob and Mollie declined both deals and walked out of the Shark Tank empty-handed. Mark and Barbara commended them on their decision to walk out, saying it was the right one.
Little Burros Now in 2023 – The After Shark Tank Update
Despite not getting a deal on Shark Tank, Little Burros had success in the market. Little Burros found its way into shelves in many major retail stores such as Lowe’s, Walmart, TrueValue, Home Depot, and many others. The episode aired in May 2020, which was when Covid-19 restrictions began to take place.
Even though Little Burros is an outdoor utility gardening tool, it massively benefitted from the Covid-19 lockdown. Online sales went through the roof as customers wanted their own Little Burro for their garden. The Covid-19 Pandemic left many in isolation, with the only outdoor access being their garden. That is why Little Burros benefitted massively from the pandemic; customers sought to work on their gardens during the lockdown.
Little Burros’s success didn’t stop there. The company released a brand new product to its product line; the Burro Buddy. The Burro Buddy is a smaller, more compact burro companion than the original Little Burro. Burro Buddy takes up less space, weighs less, and is easier to pack and move around. In 2023, Little Burro announced that the Burro Buddy is sold in 1,200 Lowes stores, with plans to introduce the product to Walmart shelves in 2023. Little Burros reported $1 million in annual revenue in 2023.
Little Burros is still successful now in 2023, growing fast as the company navigates the gardening market. Little Burros proved its success without the help of a Shark and managed to expand the company’s product line successfully. The Thorsen family continues to work hard to grow Little Burros as a family-owned business. Little Burros is expected to continue growing in the following years, introducing new products to its brand line and helping anyone interested in gardening. For more updates and information on Little Burros, visit their website here.