The owners of Springfield-based StepNpull struck a “wonderful” deal on national television.
Investor Kevin O’Leary, aka Mr. Wonderful, agreed to inject $300,000 into the business for a 6% equity stake on the April 2 edition of ABC’s “Shark Tank.”
StepNpull President and co-owner Mike Sewell, who pitched to celebrity investors on the show, actually received three offers during the episode – from O’Leary, Lori Greiner and Daymond John. O’Leary and John went back and forth, until O’Leary sweetened his offer at the last moment by lowering his previous equity stake bid to win Sewell’s approval.
“Kevin, let’s do it,” Sewell finally responded.
Sewell said April 7 he and fellow StepNpull owners Kelly Coddington and Ron Ely had to remain silent about the show’s outcome for a few months. He said disclosing when the episode taped isn’t allowed by the network.
“We weren’t so much interested in the dollar value. We know that the sharks have a lot of connections and a lot of business background,” Sewell said in a Springfield Business Journal interview about appearing on the show. “They’re also [social media] influencers.”
Prior to the investor bidding process, Sewell and StepNpull sought $300,000 for a 3% stake in the company.
Founded in 2007, StepNpull produces foot-operated door openers that have spiked in popularity amid the coronavirus pandemic. The product comprises a metal plate that mounts perpendicular to the bottom of bathroom and interior doors – for users to step on and pull to open.
Sewell said April 7 that last year’s revenue was roughly $7 million, with $1.7 million of that generated in March 2020 alone. SBJ previously reported the company’s 2019 revenue was $336,000.
Sewell told SBJ last April that sales in March 2020 exceeded the company’s prior 13 years in business. At the time, he estimated the company could sell 150,000-200,000 units in 2020. Last year, it sold roughly 350,000 units, he said April 7. That’s an increase of nearly 2,600% from 2019’s 13,000 units.
“The peak months were March, April, May and June was still pretty strong but slowly started to taper off,” he said. “That was just crazy. It has settled down from that point.”
O’Leary’s other investments on “Shark Tank” have included cat DNA service Basepaws and rechargeable padlock maker BenjiLock, according to his website. Details on paperwork involving O’Leary’s $300,000 investment are still being determined, Sewell said, adding there’s no timeline of when the work will be complete.
“He can get us in front of people who might not have considered us in the past,” he said of O’Leary.
StepNpull isn’t the only local hands-free, sanitation-driven product based in Springfield on the market. Z-Handle, a patent-pending sanitary door opener invented last year by Todd Kennedy and his father, Tom, is sold on Amazon, according to past reporting.
StepNpull also has another hands-free product. Sewell said the company’s ToeIn cabinet opener made of clear acrylic material recently began selling on the company’s website and Amazon.
“This is just a small item,” he said. “We haven’t really ramped up marketing that yet because honestly we have to figure out now a sort of prototype, proof of concept to see what the interest is.”
While StepNpull’s owners are uncertain what financial impacts will be felt by appearing on “Shark Tank,” they anticipate 2021 will be another big year.
“One of the big things about being on ‘Shark Tank’ is validity,” Sewell said. “The way we were presented on the show and the way it came across, we couldn’t have asked for a much better projection of who we are.”
Digital Editor Geoff Pickle contributed.
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