As kids, my sisters and I ordered samples of Du Pont Stain Master Carpet and made our very own infomercial. Armed with a video camera the size of a suitcase (am I giving away my age here?) and my mother’s red lipstick, we documented the process of staining and subsequently cleaning the carpet sample. The point of this story is that the proof is in the proverbial pudding.
This weekend while catching up on my DVR, I saw some infomercial-worthy products on Shark Tank; adolescent me was intrigued. The first company, a line of plant-derived, natural cleaning products called Better Life was founded by two friends, Tim Barklage and Kevin Tibbs in 2007. While Mr. Clean has been making it looks easy for decades, giving personality to products that we actively hide under our sinks is pretty difficult. The most effective advertising for these types of products is usually an infomercial-like demonstration.
After a variety of demonstrations showcasing the impressive cleaning power of their line in direct comparison to chemical cleaners on the market, Tibbs sprayed some of the cleaner into his own mouth. The sharks, as well as everyone in my living room, were clearly impressed.
Tibbs and Barklage know their product, they know how well it works and they were looking for a strategic partnership to get them into the right retail channels. So when Lori Greiner said that she could get Better Life in the door at Bed Bath & Beyond and QVC this armchair quarterback was rooting for a deal with her to go all the way. Thankfully the friends saw the same opportunity and, after hearing all of the offers, went with Greiner.
Another company featured on the episode was selling an item called the Tree T Pee; an invention for citrus farmers which doubles as a water conservation and frost protection system. Johnny Georges is the inventor of the Tree T Pee and it’s hard to imagine a small business owner being any more genuine.
Georges worked with his father for years as a citrus grower and as he learned the business he came up with a great way to conserve resources and cut costs — and then he did what so many of us talk about, but never do, he got a utility patent.
Georges closed his presentation by saying that, “when good people come together with a noble cause great things happen” and I could not agree more. This is a man who wants to help not only himself or his industry, but the environment as well. While Georges believes that “every tree that goes in the ground should have a Tree T Pee on it,” it’s not because he wants to cash in, but because he believes that is what’s best for the farmers and the environment.
When pushed by various sharks on the panel as to why he wasn’t charging more for his Tree T Pees to make more of a profit, he simply replied, “yeah, but you’re selling to farmers.” Pass the tissues, please. This is a man who wants to run an honest business helping people just like him and his dad. We need more Johnny Georges in this world.
All of the sharks saw the potential in his product, but only John Paul Dejornia understood his passion and commended him for doing “what’s right” by his industry. By the time J.P. had agreed to give to give Mr. Georges the exact offer he asked for I was ready to become a citrus grower just so I could support him.
It’s exciting to see new products and brands develop. I love to take a chance in an effort to support a fledgling company. What are some new items you’ve tried that you can’t wait to tell people about and why?