Touch Up Cup Before Shark Tank
In 2017, Carson Grill, then only 14, invented the Touch Up Cup. He was helping his father with household projects and worked on touching up an area that they had previously painted. The father-son duo opened the old paint cans to discover that the paint inside was unusable, filled with rust, and clumpy.
Protein shake mixing cups inspired Carson’s innovative solution. Placing any leftover paint from a project into this polypropylene cup instead of keeping it in the original container would ensure that the leftover paint would be fresh and free of rust when needed. The mixing ball cuts down on clumps and mess. Carson invented this product and his father, Jason, helped him to manufacture it. But the impressive Carson manages this entire business and its sales independently. The Touch-Up Cup headquarters is in West Chester Township, Ohio. Would the Sharks be as impressed by the young entrepreneur and his father as their first customers? Let’s take a look.
Touch Up Cup on Shark Tank
Shark Tank Season 12 premiered on March 15th, just days before the pandemic reached its peak in the United States. For those who don’t know, Shark Tank is a show where entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to a panel of wealthy investors, or “Sharks.” Usually, the show is shot in a relatively small studio with a limited number of crew members.
However, for Season 12, the producers went to great lengths to create a specialized quarantined environment that would allow everyone to be mask-free. This was done to reduce the risk of exposure to Covid-19. The show was already socially distanced even before the pandemic, but this took things to a new level.
Father and son duo Jason and Carson Grill walked out onto the stage and into the Shark Tank. Carson introduced himself first, proudly stating that he was the young CEO of their company. Jason said that he was the proud dad to his son and that they were there to pitch Carson’s invention, the Touch Up Cup.
“We’re looking for $150,000 in exchange for 10% equity in our company,” Carson explained to the Sharks. Jason said that his family of four was doing home improvement tasks one weekend, and Carson was helping with some interior touch-up painting.
“Hey, do any of your cabinets have old paint cans? Ours does, and the paint is starting to rust and smell. It’s getting in the way.” The Sharks looked at each other, wondering why Carson was asking such a question. “No, I don’t think so,” one of them finally said. “Well, I invented the solution to all the paint storage problems- the touch-up cup. It’s a small container you can fill with paint and then use to touch up small spots without opening up a whole can. Plus, it prevents the paint from drying out or rusting.”
Jason enthusiastically shook his cup and said their tagline, “Just shake and paint, baby.” This received an amused smile from Mark Cuban. Carson continued, stating that Touch Up Cup could keep paint fresh for up to 10 years with the help of its extra threads and silicone seal.
“Hey, we sell three packs and individual cups,” Jason said. His son nodded in agreement. “The product is in over 4000 stores,” he continued. They looked at each other and high-fived but stopped themselves because of the Covid restrictions, and they elbow bumped instead.
The 15-year-old entrepreneur said his eventual goal was to have the Touch Up Cup in every large home improvement store. Jason and Carson ended the presentation by asking the Sharks who wanted to help them shake it up, baby? Before they could reply, Carson said that each Shark had a sample cup in front of them that was filled with paint.
Blake, the guest Shark who was the founder of Tom’s shoes, asked Carson for his age, and Carson advised that he was 15. Blake questioned if they had an actual patent. Carson said they had one in the shape of the cup which was already approved.
Lori asked Carson about the 4000 locations and who was actually running the business. Carson said that they both ran the business while doing day jobs. He was about to be a freshman in high school as of the taping of the episode, and his dad worked in medical sales.
Carson said that they have a private label partnership with one of the biggest players in the painter’s tape market – Frog Tape. This partnership has gotten them into 250 Meier locations and in front of a bunch of other stores. They didn’t pay a royalty because of the nature of the partnership.
The men continued discussing the business, and Carson explained that they had a strategic partnership in Nashville, TN. He used technical business terms to describe it. Daymond laughed and said he loved the kid, and Blake said he didn’t know the business terms until his 5th year of college. Carson was confident in his business and its potential for success.
“Our online sales are about 70%, and our retail sales are about 30%. We’ve done about $220,000 in sales over the past two years. In this year alone, we’ve done $70,000. We’re on track to do $400,000 in sales this year.”
Mark was interested in how much the 3-pack would cost them. Carson told him it was $1.99 landed. This included the packaging. The margin on the individual cup was about $1.10. They sold the 3-pack for $4.20 wholesale.
“Most of the time, the child would demo the product and leave the business part to the parent,” Kevin said. “In this case, Carson was doing all of the talking,” Jason said that he entirely had faith in his son and that he knew the business inside and out. “I’m not worried about it at all,” he said.
Carson said he often went to business meetings and trade shows with his dad. He related a story of a sales meeting where the buyer assumed he was just a tag-along that would sit in the hallway, and he impressed her by running the entire session. This amazed the Sharks.
Jason said that Carson was being modest – they actually had four approved patents, and 3 of them were for the freshness products, which were ergonomically designed to keep the food fresh for 3-4 days longer than conventional packaging. These products accounted for 5% of their sales. Blake was very impressed by Carson’s innovation.
Blake said that he wanted to get the business off the ground. He made an offer of $200,000 in exchange for 25%. He said that extra cash would help kick-start things. Carson thanked him for the offer. Daymond said Blake made a better offer than he was thinking about making. He countered an offer of $200,000 for a 17.5% stake in Touch Up Cup.
Mark stated that he loved the business and the entrepreneurs, but the other Sharks already made great offers that he was not interested in competing with. He went out. Kevin said that he had a dilemma. He wanted Carson to Dropout of school and become a CEO. Carson said that he had just graduated 8th grade, and he didn’t think it was an option right now. Kevin smiled as he went out.
Daymond said that he brought up an interesting question. Who would run the business on a day-to-day basis? He and Blake would not be able to drop everything to do it. Would they have to hire someone? Jason said their long-term plan was to get to a point where he didn’t have to work in medical sales.
Daymond said that he understood that they needed to keep the lights on and saw it from a business standpoint. Working long hours would work for now, but retail keeps regular business hours. With Carson in school and Jason working a day job, Daymond wasn’t sure if it would work out. Daymond decided to revise his offer to $150,000 for 20% Equity. He was uncomfortable that neither of the entrepreneurs could manage the business during business hours.
Lori went out, saying that she wanted her entrepreneurs to be able to hit the ground running, and mark and Daymond had more patience in training them and giving them advice. Carson thanked Lori and then asked Blake a critical question. He wanted to know if Blake would be willing to help him fulfill purchase orders if they didn’t have the capital to do so. Blake explained that he wouldn’t see until he looked at the business model, but since he owned 25% of the business, it would be in his best interest to help them get a line of credit at the bank.
Jason posed the same question to Daymond, and he said no. Carson asked if Blake would be willing to negotiate down to 17.5%, and Blake said he would only offer $150,000. Carson asked if he would do it for the $200,000, and Blake said no. He encouraged Carson to give a little more away to get the extra $50,000
Carson looked up to his father, who nodded at him. Carson sighed and asked if he would do $200,000 for 20%. The Sharks have kicked adults off the show for less negotiation but seemed more patient with Carson. Blake said he loved that Carson was willing to ask but felt he was worth the extra equity. Carson thanked Daymond for his generous offer but decided to make a deal with Blake.
Touch Up Cup Now in 2023 – The After Shark Tank Update
During the airing of Shark Tank, Carson and his dad made $50,000 in sales that night alone. After that, the company only continued to grow from there. The Touch Up Cup product on Shark Tank was a huge success, with an average sale total of $25. The company also has a private label partnership with a famous home improvement brand, Frog Tape. In 2021, the company made over $2 million in revenue. The Touch Up Cup’s social media presence is impressive, with a YT video with over 2 million views.
Since appearing on Shark Tank, the entrepreneurs have developed several new products and made various improvements to their flagship products. DZ Innovations introduced the Fresh Collection, and this line includes specially made freshness containers for bagels, donuts, and muffins. Additionally, they have a new product called the Piggy Bag, a set of 3 reusable bacon grease containers.
In the same vein as the Touch-Up Cup, DZ Innovations put out the Touch-Up Tarp. They have also improved their original product by reimagining the mixing ball, and it went from a stainless steel hollow wire ball to a specially shaped plastic “blending sphere.”