Rick Hopper has been creating and inventing since he was a little child when he used his Lincoln Logs and Erector sets to construct monoliths. In his spare time from working in the window business, he would build furniture for his family, continuing his love and creative spirit. After his own window company folded, he hit a rough patch. When the concept came to Rick, he was still tinkering and producing, thinking that his million-dollar invention was just around the corner.
Rick was becoming more irritated with having to wear reading glasses after having excellent eyesight his whole life. His age had now caught up to his prior glass-free existence. He was used to needing to keep track of glasses and constantly misplacing and losing them, so he looked for a simpler solution. He devised a solution using a paperclip and a few magnets to create a practical and efficient glasses holder. He never again misplaced his spectacles. His spectacles remained intact even after he fell off an electric skateboard and fractured his shoulder.
When people started asking where they might obtain a ReadeREST for themselves, Rick recognized the real potential. He invested time and money at trade exhibitions in order to find a market for his idea. The paper clip was eventually replaced with stainless steel, and the scrap metal backplate was transformed into a strong neodymium magnet. He was hand-crafting them one at a time until friends persuaded him to enter The Shark Tank to see if he could strike a deal to assist with the ReadeREST’s distribution and manufacturing expenses.
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Rick Enters the Shark Tank with ReadeREST
Season 3 Episode 6 of Shark Tank
On his national television debut, Rick Hopper did not make a good first impression. On his way onto the platform to make the major pitch for ReadeREST, his foot caught the edge of the carpet and spilled. Rick quickly regained his footing and started his pitch without skipping a beat. For the millions of individuals who wear glasses, the ReadeREST addresses a basic daily issue. Throw off those “granny chains” and don’t let your shirt collar stretch out again from keeping your glasses there.
Rick stated that he created ReadeREST for his own personal use and had no intention of selling it until friends expressed interest and encouraged him to do so. He sold $65,000 worth of ReadeREST in test markets before running out of stock, and he needed assistance to start mass manufacturing. Rick pitched ReadeREST as a $1 million value, asking for $150,000 in return for a 15% ownership stake in the company.
The Sharks’ first inquiry concerned whether Rick had obtained a patent on ReadeREST. A preliminary patent search revealed a comparable device, but the patent owner agreed to sell it to Rick for $5,000. This put an end to any worries about intellectual property and proprietary rights.
Rick had set a $1 million goal for ReadeREST, but Daymond thought it was too high. Rick stated that his invention has the potential to generate $6 million in annual revenues via retail distribution. Daymond informed Rick that the combination of giving cash and leveraging his contacts was not worth the investment possibilities, and he backed out.
Lori, a successful entrepreneur with her own QVC program, said Rick didn’t create a good impression as a salesperson. Rick accepted, claiming to be a creative who had been making and inventing things since he was 13 years old. Lori offered the $150,000 Rick was seeking in return for a controlling 65 percent stake in the company, citing her television expertise and contacts. With no other bids on the table, Rick responded with a 49 percent ownership offer in order to keep control of the company, but Lori quickly refused. Rick reaffirmed his aversion to selling ReadeREST’s controlling stake without a buyout option and royalties.
When Mark stated he was still thinking about the issue, Lori threatened to withdraw her offer if Rick waited for another Shark to show up. Mark tinkered with Rick’s emotions for a while before withdrawing.
Rick attempted to wring a few more equities points out of Lori’s bargain, but she was adamant about taking it or leaving it. Lori’s offer of 35% ownership in a possibly multi-million dollar business enticed him enough to accept it and relinquish management of ReadeREST.
Lori revealed after Rick left the stage that she may have agreed to a contract with as little as 51 percent ownership, which would have provided Rick with much more money over time with Lori remaining in charge. Rick persisted in his efforts to maintain control, stopping him from further bargaining for a larger stake.
What Happened to Them? After Shark Tank, readeREST
Lori prepared to showcase the ReadeREST on her QVC program, Clever and Unique Creations, by bundling it with a pair of reading glasses. Rick’s first batch of 50,000 units sold out almost quickly, and things only got better for him and the ReadeREST from there.
Rick stayed engaged in the company, and his website is still operating with an enlarged product range years after his Shark Tank debut. ReadeREST clips in pink are offered to raise breast cancer awareness and include a unique design that resembles a pair of sunglasses. Marketing has expanded to include the ReadeREST as a cord and cable management, earphone holder, and pen clip as part of the rebranding push.
Rick overcame the odds by establishing a strong retail business, distributing the ReadeREST to 2,500 Walmart Vision Centers throughout the nation, as well as Ace Hardware, Bed Bath & Beyond, Staples, and a number of other smaller retail chains across the globe.
Disclaimer: This post is for informative purposes only; Royal Pitch is not connected with ReadeREST, Shark Tank, or any of its subsidiaries.
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