Everkin Before the Profit
Way back in Season 5 of The Profit, Marcus Lemonis tried to form a partnership with phone accessory company Casery – only to walk away after seeing how poorly its owner, Matt Harlow, ran the business. (Matt made terrible decisions and failed to treat his employees with the respect they deserved, among other faux pas.) But not long after Marcus made his exit, two Casery employees tracked him down with a deal of their own: They proposed creating a new company to compete with Casery – a calculated move that wasn’t really Lemonis’s style. Nonetheless, the idea had to potential.
Lead designer, Charlotte Hennington, and Operations/Finance Manager, Skyler Milligan-LeCroy, were hoping Marcus would finance a competitor to Casery while they did the work of building the new company from the ground up. Charlotte and Skyler asked Marcus to finance their inventory with a $2 million investment.
Marcus explained that he couldn’t invest through equity – because that would appear to be a gift, which would have huge tax implications for the company. Instead, he agreed to structure the cash infusion as a preferred investment, where he would have a 49% stake in the company and Charlotte and Skyler would have 51%. Marcus wanted financial control, leaving design and operations to his partners. With Charlotte and Skyler on board, the deal was made – but the new company still needed a CEO.
Who would claim the throne?
Marcus’s gut instinct told him Charlotte would make the better CEO of the two. He saw Charlotte as “even-keeled” and thought potential clients would react more positively to her than to Skyler. Skyler reluctantly saw the wisdom in Marcus’s logic and was assigned the title of COO, heading up Operations for the new company.
Back when Marcus was still working with Casery, he had arranged a meeting with T-Mobile to discuss an exclusive partnership with proprietary designs. Since he now had formed a partnership with Charlotte and Skyler, he saw no reason to cancel that meeting. But the meeting was only ten days away. Charlotte and Skyler would have to work quickly to prepare, and their work would include some crucial steps:
- Set up an LLC
- Come up with a name and brand identity
- Define roles and responsibilities for the employees
- Develop new designs that would be exclusive to T-Mobile
- Create presentation boards for the meeting.
To put it mildly, that was a lot to accomplish in little more than a week.
Everkin on The Profit
The Profit Season 6 Episode 5
Charlotte and Skyler (along with two other employees, Sunshine and Xavier) pitched their concepts to Marcus. He loved what they chose for the company’s name: Everkin. The name suggested that the products would appeal to everyone, and that the product would last – but as Marcus viewed the phone case designs, he didn’t see how the cases would appeal to anyone but women. He also thought they looked too much like the Casery cases. Although Charlotte didn’t agree and tried to defend the designs, Marcus warned that it might appear as though they were stolen from Casery. Charlotte eventually understood, and vowed they would go back to the drawing board. The other criticism from Marcus? Their presentation lacked energy and preparation. They would have to up their game considerably if they wanted to sell their designs to T-Mobile.
Presentation Day at T-Mobile
On the day of the presentation, Marcus walked into a conference room and found a group of Everkin employees struggling to put together the easels that were supposed to display the design boards. He noted that there wasn’t much time left before the meeting began and wondered why they hadn’t put these together the night before. He told them to put the easels away; rather than waste time trying to set up the easels, they would hold up the boards during the pitch meeting. During a run-through of the pitch, Marcus told Charlotte that she looked unprepared and lacked energy. Demoralized, Charlotte told Marcus he was bringing them down. But Marcus said (correctly) that he wasn’t there to sugarcoat things. He was going to tell them the truth and it wasn’t up to him to give them a morale boost; as CEO, Charlotte needed to lead.
Despite their lack of preparation, the meeting went well. The T-Mobile members liked that Everkin had incorporated its signature magenta color into the designs, although they agreed with Marcus that the designs seemed to skew female. Everkin promised to tweak the designs and T-Mobile agreed to purchase 38,000 cases, across 18 designs, that would be distributed to stores nationwide. This was a big win for the new company, but now the hard work would begin – as they would now have to fulfill a nationwide order.
Fulfilling the T-Mobile Order
The Everkin team headed to a trade show in Hong Kong to discover the latest trends and accessories. Marcus told them the trip would be a good opportunity to develop their teamwork and communication skills. But after the trip – and once Everkin had already started production – Marcus saw that Charlotte and Skyler were having a difficult time working together. Marcus was also worried that Skyler seemed to be confused about pricing and costs.
T-Mobile launch day arrived, and Marcus again found the Everkin team struggling to set up the displays. He was astonished that they continued to be so unprepared for important events. During the set-up session, they asked a male customer to give them feedback on their designs, and the customer said that several of them look “ladyish” to him. Marcus was angry that Everkin had completely ignored his and T-Mobile’s feedback and hadn’t made the necessary changes to the designs.
Sure enough, it turned out that some of the designs weren’t working for T-Mobile and they wanted $300,000 from Everkin to reduce prices on the cases that were not selling. Marcus said this could have been avoided had Charlotte made an earlier offer to switch out the designs that were performing poorly. The company couldn’t afford to pay T-Mobile $300,000 so they agreed to take the product back.
Further Chaos at Everkin – But Some Hope
Marcus could see that things were falling apart. Charlotte felt like she didn’t know what she was doing and Skyler confessed it seemed like no one was running the business. Marcus had already told the pair what they were doing wrong; now he wanted them to focus on what was going well. Charlotte admitted that product development was a strength and that they had been working on designing wireless charger pads that matched the cases. She also told Marcus that she had set up a meeting with Marvel for a potential licensing idea. Marcus was impressed that she had reached out to Marvel and offered to set up a meeting with Major League Baseball to discuss a tie-in.
During the meeting with the MLB’s Commissioner’s office, MLB told the Everkin team that they were looking for something more than just slapping a logo on a case. He wanted them to incorporate stadium shots and images that only MLB could access. While at first it appeared that Everkin was striking out, Charlotte presented a number of designs for women, noting the split between male and female fans was nearly even. MLB loved the ideas and offered to give Everkin the licensing rights to create designs for all of its teams.
Everkin launched in early 2019, but sadly, the company did not survive its first year. Charlotte Hennigton’s LinkedIn page stated that Everkin reached $400,000 in sales within six months, but Everkin’s Facebook page no longer exists, their most recent Instagram post is from April 2019 (with a mere 2,382 followers) and their website has been taken down completely.
If you visit T-Mobile’s and MLB’s websites, you won’t find any Everkin cases there, and Twitter users are wondering when, if ever, the designs will be available. (I wouldn’t hold your breath, folks.) The phone accessory market is very competitive and seems to be dominated by a few key players. Perhaps Everkin can re-emerge purely as a company that will license its designs, but as a phone accessory company, it appears that Everkin has lost its signal.
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