Gobie H20 Before Shark Tank
Rusty Allen is an industrial design entrepreneur who developed what he called the “most advanced filtered water bottle.” His bottle, called Gobie H20, had a unique design that included both hard shell and soft shell technology. The soft shell portion enables the drinker to easily squeeze the bottle and draw it up through the filter.
He came up with the idea after being frustrated by the amount of money he spent on single-use water bottles. He claimed that he, at one point, realized he was spending more on water bottles than he was on gas to fill his car.
He appeared on Shark Tank in April 2013, in what was the 21st episode of the fourth season.
Gobie H20 On Shark Tank
Shark Tank Season 4 Episode 21
Rusty’s pitch to the sharks included 10% of his company for an investment of $300,000. He began by pointing out the unique design of the bottle – soft shell plus hard shell – and then told the sharks his filter kept out 99.9% of all contaminants in regular drinking water, which is what the consumer would use to fill the bottle.
He took this claim a step further by filling a bottle with both tap water and potting soil, shook it up, and then poured into a glass. The water in the glass was clear, and Rusty drank it down.
Kevin was a bit confused about who was the target market. Was Gobie H20 expected to compete in the already crowded water bottle market or did he intend to bring this to areas of the world that don’t have access to clean drinking water? Rusty replied that his goal was to compete with the single-use water bottle market in the U.S.
Kevin still didn’t see how that was a winning strategy since the tap water quality in most of the U.S. is acceptable. Mark interjected by agreeing that most people think tap water is fine, but that there are also bottles on the market with included filters that are good enough.
Robert was next to react. He told Rusty that his kids had been using a water bottle with an internal filter for a number of years.
Lori thought that the only major difference between the Gobie bottle and others in the marketplace is the unique design of Rusty’s product – hard shell plus softshell. She has seen so many other water bottles for sale that either include a filter or where one can be added.
Rusty’s response was that the combination of the soft and hard materials worked better at water filtration than either soft squeeze bottles or hard bottles could do on their own. Squeeze bottles, he said, were often cheaply made and wouldn’t last the life of the filter. Hard bottles made it difficult to draw the water in through the filter. By contrast, Gobie H20 would use the soft side to build up pressure that allowed the water to flow through the filter more easily.
Daymond wanted numbers. What did it retail for and what did it cost to make? Rusty told him that it retailed for $30, and it cost $10 to produce. The bottle came with one filter that would last three months or 100 gallons, and then the consumer would need to buy a new filter every three months. Mark asked if he had designed the filter himself or if he had licensed the technology. Rusty admitted that the technology to make the filter was available in the free market. It was simply a carbon block.
Both Daymond and Robert wanted to hear more about the numbers. How much sales revenue had he earned? Rusty told them he’s made $285,000 in sales over the course of 17 months. All sales had been made online, but he had approached retailers like Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, and JC Penney. He claimed they liked the bottle but didn’t want to take it until he had more colors available.
Lori wasn’t buying that story. She figured that if Rusty had a truly revolutionary bottle, the retailers would have grabbed it despite the lack of color availability. She felt that they didn’t want it because they already had similar competitors that were probably lower priced. Because she didn’t think he could compete in this crowded market, she dropped out.
Kevin posed a blunt question: Why was the product worth $3 million today and what would it be worth tomorrow? When Rusty tried to explain the company’s worth on the basis that everyone in the world drinks water, everyone groaned, and Kevin said that was not the answer he was looking for. And with that, Kevin dropped out.
Mark had some things to say. He thought it was a really cool looking bottle, and that he should be selling it based on its design and not the water filtration capabilities – especially since his water filter couldn’t block out more contaminants than any other filter on the market. Rusty, however, continued to pitch the idea that his design could do a better job of filtering than other bottles on the market. Mark looked frustrated and opted out.
Robert had the most brutal criticism to offer. He thought it was a terrible presentation and that he doesn’t think Rusty understood the business he’s in. He predicted Rusty would get crushed. And then he dropped out.
That left Daymond, who admitted that he thought the bottle was “sexy.” But he did have concerns based on what the other sharks were saying. He asked Rusty what he would do with the $300,000. Rusty said he needed it for inventory and operating costs. Daymond then asked if he had any debt, and Rusty replied that he didn’t. Then Daymond made an offer: $300,000 for 40% of the company – which was considerably more than the 10% Rusty proposed during his pitch. Daymond also placed a contingency on the offer – it had to get into a big box store.
Rusty countered Daymond’s offer and asked if he would accept 20%. Daymond said he offered what he thought the product was worth. Rusty then asked if he could call his business partner to get his opinion. The sharks conceded, and after a brief conversation, Rusty came back and asked if Daymond would bring in a couple of the other sharks that had already dropped out – Mark and Lori. But Daymond didn’t want any part of that. He remained firm with his original offer. Rusty rested for a beat, but then bounded over to Daymond to shake his hand and accept the deal.
Gobie H20 After Shark Tank
Gobie H20 still has an active website, although there’s no mention that the water bottles are for sale. Under “What’s New” on the site’s menu, there’s a blog post, written 3/8/20, about how to sell successfully on Amazon. There’s also a post about what to look for when choosing a water bottle, and a piece about the drinking water in Omaha, Nebraska. It’s not clear whether this URL was hijacked by someone else in the water business.
As for reviews, they were mixed on Amazon, with some people loving the design, and others that claimed it was a mold-trapper, that it broke shortly after purchase, or that it started leaking.
Rusty’s LinkedIn account includes information about Gobie H20 – and claims it is still operating (even though there doesn’t seem to be any retailer that sells it). As for what Rusty is doing now, he’s the founder of Happi Canine – “the first daily fish oil-enriched CBD supplement specifically designed just for dogs.”
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