A father-son duo struck a $125,000 deal with all 5 ‘Shark Tank’ judges: This ‘practically never happens’
Plenty of “Shark Tank” contestants strike a deal with one, or even two, of the entrepreneurship reality show’s investor judges.
Precious few manage to get all five of the show’s investors to go in on a deal together. Father-son duo Mark and Kenzo Singer pulled it off on Friday’s episode of the ABC show, landing a combined $125,000 investment offer from every investor in exchange for 20% of their Santa Barbara-based reading glasses company, Eyewris.
“As I got older, I needed reading glasses more and more and they were never with me when I needed them,” Mark said. “I thought the solution was to buy a dozen pairs and put them everywhere. I still didn’t have them when I needed them.”
Kenzo, a Cornell University-educated structural engineer, decided to put his expertise to work. Soon after, he quit his engineering job to make glasses full-time. “Physics at the scale of a skyscraper also applies to something as small as a pair of reading glasses,” he said.
The Singers initially asked for $25,000 in exchange for 5% of the company. But they didn’t need money: Gorilla Glue has been popular for decades, helping Mark put $630,000 of his own money into Eyewris, he said.
Plus, the new company was already profitable just nine months in, the duo added — despite only bringing in about $28,000 in lifetime sales at time of filming.
That prompted one of the investors, Daymond John, to ask: “Why do you need a Shark?”
“Your most valuable commodity isn’t your money, it’s your time,” Mark answered, choking up. “I don’t have it in me to build another company. My time has passed. My main reason for being here is to leave Kenzo in good hands, and by that I mean with successful, smart, honest and ethical people like yourselves.”
One of the other investors, Lori Greiner, visibly teared up, and was the first to make an offer: $25,000 for a 10% equity stake. “I know this business, I know what it takes. I’ve done millions of dollars in sunglasses … and I think that this is really ingenious,” she said.
Kevin O’Leary followed, offering $50,000 for a 10% equity stake. “I know how to blow this up huge,” he said. “This is an extraordinary situation.”
A bidding war ensued. with John asking Greiner if they could partner together. The Singers jumped in, saying they didn’t want to give up 10% of their company for any amount of money.
Seemingly sensing a bluff, O’Leary offered to join Greiner and John, potentially giving Eyewris access to three Sharks for a 10% equity stake. When the two remaining investors, Mark Cuban and Barbara Corcoran, attempted to jump in, the group decided to take a moment to deliberate.
They came back with a collective offer: $125,000 for 25% equity stake. “Every single Shark wants to back you guys,” O’Leary said. “Practically never happens.”
Kenzo countered with 20%, and the investors agreed.
“I couldn’t be prouder of my dad,” Kenzo said, after striking the deal. “I’ve never seen him get emotional like that.”