Rick Hopper has been creating and inventing since he was a young boy building monoliths from his Lincoln Logs and Erector sets. His passion and creative spirit continued as an adult when he would make furniture for his family on his off time from working in the window business. He fell on some hard times after his own window business closed. Rick was still inventing and creating, hoping his million-dollar idea was just around the corner when the inspiration for ReadeREST came to him.
After living with perfect vision all of his life, Rick was getting increasingly frustrated with having to use reading glasses as his age finally caught up to his previous glass-less life. Not used to having to keep track of glasses, he kept misplacing and dropping them and searched for an easier way. He found a solution by creating a convenient and effective glasses holder with a paperclip and a few magnets. He never lost his glasses again. Even when he fell off an electric skateboard and wound up a broken shoulder, his glasses stayed intact.
Rick saw legitimate potential when people began wondering where they could get a ReadeREST for themselves. He spent time and money to attend trade shows to seek out a market for his invention. Over time, the paper clip was replaced by stainless steel, and the piece of scrap metal for the backplate became a powerful neodymium magnet. He was making them by hand one at a time when friends convinced him to jump into The Shark Tank to see if he could strike a deal that would help with the distribution and production costs of the ReadeREST.
Rick Takes ReadeREST Into the Shark Tank
Shark Tank Season 3 Episode 6
Rick Hopper did not make the best first impression on his national television debut. His foot clipped the edge of the carpet took a spill on his way onto the stage to make the big pitch for ReadeREST. Quickly getting back on his feet, Rick began his pitch without missing a beat. The ReadeREST solves a simple everyday problem for the millions of people who wear glasses. Throw away those “granny chains” and never stretch out another shirt collar from storing your glasses there.
Rick explained that he just invented ReadeREST for his own personal use, never intending to sell them until friends started expressing interest and urged him to pursue it. He sold $65,000 worth of product in test markets before running out of inventory and was looking for help to begin mass production of ReadeREST. Asking for $150,000 in exchange for a 15% equity share in the business, Rick presented ReadeREST as a $1 million valuation.
The first question the Sharks had revolved around whether Rick had secured a patent for ReadeREST. An early patent search found a similar product, but the patent holder was willing to sell it to Rick for $5,000. This allayed any intellectual property and proprietary concerns.
Daymond felt the $1 million Rick set for ReadeREST was too high. Rick explained that his product had the potential for retail distribution that could reach $6 million in yearly profits. Daymond let Rick know in no uncertain terms that the combination of providing cash and using his connections was not worth the investment potential, and he back out.
A successful businesswoman with her own QVC show, Lori pointed out that Rick did not make a great impression as a salesman. Rick agreed, saying that he was a creator and had been creating and designing things since he was 13 years old. Pointing out her television experience and connections, Lori offered the $150,000 Rick was asking for in exchange for a controlling 65% share in the business. With no other offers on the table, Rick countered with an offer of 49% equity so he could retain controlling interest, but Lori declined that offer immediately. Rick reiterated that he was resistant to giving up majority interest in ReadeREST without a buyout option and royalties.
Kevin bowed out, and when Mark said he was still contemplating the situation, Lori threatened to pull her offer if Rick waited for another Shark to come through. Mark played with Rick’s emotions for a bit before ultimately backing out.
Rick tried to get a few more equity points from Lori’s deal, but she stood firm with a take-it-or-leave-it approach. Thirty-five percent equity in what was potentially a multi-million dollar venture was intriguing enough for him to take Lori’s deal and give up control of ReadeREST.
After Rick left the stage, Lori admitted she may have agreed to go as low as 51% equity for the deal, which would have given Rick a lot more money over time with Lori still in control. Rick stuck with attempts to keep control, preventing him from negotiating further to get more of a share.
Where Are They Now? ReadeREST After Shark Tank
Lori bundled that ReadeREST with a pair of reading glasses and prepared to present the product on her QVC show, Clever and Unique Creations. Rick’s first run of 50,000 units sold out immediately, and the situation for him and the ReadeREST would only get better from there.
Rick remained active in the business operations, and years after his Shark Tank appearance, his website is still active with an expanded product line. Pink ReadeREST clips are available to support breast cancer awareness and an innovative design choice that looks like a pair of sunglasses. Rebranding efforts have seen marketing expansion to use the ReadeREST as a cord and cable manager, and earbud holder, and a pen clip.
In addition to the success of online sales, Rick defied the odds by adding a robust retail division, getting the ReadeREST into 2,500 Walmart Vision Centers across the country and it can be found at Ace Hardware, Bed Bath & Beyond, Staples, and several other smaller retail chains around the world.
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