Safety Nailer Before Shark Tank
Drew Zirkle, the entrepreneur who got the Safety Nailer to market, was not its inventor. The bright red finger guard is meant to both hold the nail or screw with its magnetic mechanism and protect your hand from the hammer as you drive the nail into its intended surface. Drew met his friend Dan at engineering school, and the two have kept in touch throughout life’s challenges.
Unfortunately, Dan was dealt a bad hand and got sick. He continued to invent things, and one day he showed Dan his prototype for the Safety Nailer, and he obtained a patent for it in 2012. While Dan did not feel up to starting a business from this idea, Drew and Dan’s wife teamed up to bring Dan’s product to life.
They got on Kickstarter with a modest goal of $2000 in 2018 and ended up over 4x that, fully funded. They shipped all their orders by the fall of that year. Would the Sharks be interested in taking the Safety Nailer to the next level? Let’s take a look.
Safety Nailer on Shark Tank
ENTRANCE AND PRESENTATION
Drew greeted the Sharks after pacing into the Shark Tank alone. He said he was from Virginia Beach and was seeking $100,000 in exchange for a 14% equity stake in Safety Nailer. He went into his presentation by donning safety glasses and walking to a workbench on the stage.
He said nothing was as satisfying as picking up a hammer and doing home projects yourself. Drew said starting a nail can be challenging. He hammered a few times and then pretended to get his finger with the hammer. Kevin yelled out in sympathetic pain.
He said that’s why he invented the Safety Nailer, a patented tool to protect your fingers while making hand nailing and starting screws easier and safer. The Sharks each had a product in front of them, and most picked them up and started playing. He continued, stating that it straps to your fingers and has strong magnets that would hold different size nails or screws in place.
Drew demonstrated the safety nailer by quickly loading it, starting the nail safely before taking it away and hammering the rest. He said that it worked with screws as well and demonstrated that. He said his customers were asking for something that would work with shorter finishing nails, screws, and staples, so they created a second model.
He suggested that the sharks help him protect people’s fingers while making hand nailing and starting screws easier and safer. He ended the presentation by asking the Sharks to come up and try it out.
Not all of the Sharks were on board – Rohan and Lori got up to try it out while Kevin and Barbara sat back and watched. Rohan put on the safety glasses and reminded the audience to consider safety first, and Lori gently mocked him, saying that it was a good look.
Rohan took a nail and placed it in the Safety Nailer, narrating as he did it. He noticed that the nail was angled, and he said it would straighten out as he drove it in. Rohan completed the process of hammering the nail into the wood.
“What a man,” Barbara said, sarcastically impressed. Lori asked if it was his first nail, and Rohan joked that it was. Lori took the safety nailer from him and held it in perfectly manicured hands. She played with it a little, saying it was remarkable how it snapped together magnetically as it did.
QUESTION AND ANSWER
Kevin asked how he could come up with the idea and admitted that it was not his own idea. Drew said he wanted to share the story of his friend who invented the safety nailer. His friend Dan from engineering school created it. Drew called him a fantastic inventor and a better engineer than him.
After college, Dan enlisted in the navy. After he deployed, he fell ill and needed heart surgery, and he was medically retired from the navy. In 2017, Dan showed Drew the prototype Safety Nailer, a green contraption chiseled out of hard wax.
Dan made the prototype out of a retainer mold since he was a welder. Drew believed that if you start something, you finish it, which he got from his mom. Dan did not want to go into business – he was still experiencing bad days with his illness.
Drew and dan’s wife bought their injection molding machine for $3000 and a mold for the Safety Nailer. Dan’s wife believed in the product and decided to go into business with Drew. They made the first 2000 by hand and learned quickly that it was challenging.
Mark Cuban clapped for their accomplishments. Rohan asked where they went from there. A third-party company reached out to them and offered to help with manufacturing, and they felt they were losing control of the product, so they left the third-party company to find their factory.
The factory was in China. Their original manufacturing cost for one unit was $1.75. They sold the product for $9.99 on amazon and their website. Kevin asked what sales were for the last two years. They did $40,000 last year, and to date, they were at $85,000. They were hoping to hit over $100,000 with the holidays coming up.
Kevin asked if they were making any money with it, and Drew admitted that they were only making $2000-$3000 profit. Lori wanted to know if it was their full-time job, and Drew stated he worked full-time as a project manager for another company designing wastewater treatment plants.
Kevin said that meant Drew would not be full-time on the deal. To him, that made it listless.
LET’S MAKE A DEAL
Kevin said he wanted to have someone to call about the business, and he couldn’t do that with someone who also had a full-time job. He said he understood and loved the story, but he went out.
Barbara said the product lacked sex appeal and didn’t think there was room for partners. She went out and Drew thanked her.
Drew said he wanted to bring out a second product he had also invented, and Mark stopped him and said that the product was excellent. There wasn’t a company yet, and he felt there needed someone who would eat, sleep and live the business, whether it was Drew or somebody else.
Mark went out.
His product was a clacker that didn’t clack – the magnets were constantly repelling. This intrigued the sharks, who all wanted to play with it. Rohan asked the reasonable next question – what did it have to do with the Safety Nailer?
Drew said that he knew it was weird, and Mark noted that it was fantastic. Drew said he had two other products, but he could not show the Sharks. Mark asked if they were holding the only 2 in the world, and he stuck it in his pocket, saying Drew would be down to one. Drew laughed and told Mark that it would have to cost him something.
Mark laughed and took it out of his pocket. Rohan said that he did love the Safety Nailer, and he had done home improvement projects and hit his hand with the hammer. He was very close to turning to Lori and saying they could do the licensing deal. But Lori now looked like she was unsure about the whole thing.
Rohan wondered if the clacker coming out messed up the deal. Mark said he would be willing to put the money in if he could get the rights to the clacker. Lori outlined it, asking if he would put 1/3 of the $100,000 for the clacker rights while she and Rohan would be 50/50 partners, contingent on a licensing deal. Drew agreed to give them 33% and gave Mark Cuban the clacker to take home.
Safety Nailer After Shark Tank
After appearing on Shark Tank and receiving an offer from Mark Cuban, the Safety Nailer company seemed to be up and up. However, soon after the show aired, things began to unravel for the company. The deal with the Sharks on the show never materialized in real life. Despite this, Safety Nailer is still in business.
The Safety Nailer product is selling on the company’s website, as well as on Amazon and in Ace Hardware stores nationwide. The toy that convinced Mark Cuban to join in on the Shark Tank deal was Kickstarted and fully funded by May 2020. It’s called Newton’s Spindle, and almost 200 people pledged over $8,000 to bring it to life. This toy is available for sale on the Safety Nailer website.
The Modern Tray, a kitchen accessory meant to suction onto the sink, is available for preorder. It has stainless steel bars to hold sponges and an area for keeping dish soap. Drew has not yet retained a patent for this product. Safety Nailer also includes a custom-made carpenters pencil and sharpener combination that clips onto a belt or tool holder. It allows you to sharpen the pencil with one hand, which may be helpful for carpenters or even a layperson conducting home repairs.