Cyndi Lee spent her childhood burning her fingers, taking hot plates out of the microwave. Sure, she could have grabbed a towel or oven mitts, but Cyndi was a lazy child and simply went with it. This habit of removing freshly microwaved dishes with her bare hands continued as an adult until she came up with the idea for what was first called the “Micro Easy Grab,” a silicone disk to grab hot plates that double as a pot cover and splatter guard. Its flexibility also made it an idea to open those stubborn new jars.
Cyndi promoted her new product in local retail stores and landed a spot on a local Houston news program. An appearance on The Steve Harvey Show brought further attention to her growing business. A panelist on the show suggested Cyndi change the name to something catchier. She agreed, and Safe Grabs were born.
In her first three years, Cyndi sold $310,000 worth of Safe Grabs, but problems with her first manufacturer had nearly bankrupted her. During the first year, Safe Grabs did not see a profit. Cyndi was broke, living with her parents, working full time, and making business calls from her car on her lunch breaks.
Laziness did not transfer from her microwave techniques to her business model. Cyndi believed in Safe Grabs and did not let those early struggles deter her. She has been a fan of Shark Tank since the first episode of the first season and had made two failed attempts to get on the show to promote Safe Grabs. Dogged determination and hard work made the third time a charm, and Cyndi prepared to dive into the Tank to see if anyone would take a bite out of Safe Grabs.
Safe Grabs On Shark Tank
Shark Tank Season 8 Episode 5
Cyndi took to the stage of Shark Tank asking for a $75,000 investment in exchange for a 10% stake in Safe Grabs, but before she even made her pitch announced an exclusive deal in upping the offer 12% of the business.
Appearing professional and confident, Cyndi showed the panel just how easy it was to use the Safe Grabs. The flexible disk was placed on the microwave’s turntable, and your food dish is heated on top of it. When it is done, you use the Safe Grabs to pick up the hot plate. She demonstrated how the grooved surface of the disk made it ideal for opening those sturdy jars and showed how the wipe-clean surface leaves no mess behind.
Samples were being handed out, and the Sharks began peppering Cyndi with questions about Safe Grabs, the first related to the product’s profit margins. Cyndi explained that there were two sizes of Safe Grabs. The 10-inch version sold for $12.85, with a manufacturer’s cost of only $2.75. Safe Grabs was being sold through Amazon and at a few local small retail shops, but Cyndi had yet to strike a deal with any more prominent retail outlets.
While Cyndi conceded that there are other similar products on the market, but Safe Grabs was the only one made from silicone, which was more flexible and versatile. A patent on the flexibility of Safe Grabs had been applied for, and Cyndi was awaiting approval. Cyndi revealed that after a recent $50,000 investment in inventory, she was essentially breaking even.
Safe Grabs Goes to the Sharks
Mark was impressed with Cyndi’s presentation but felt Safe Grabs was more of a single product than a sustainable business with growth potential. He was the first Shark to drop out. Barbara followed up by agreeing with Mark in not seeing much in the product, saying that she grabs a towel to take hot plates out of the microwave, and she bowed out, too.
Kevin did not think Safe Grabs’ attributes were as evident in the packaging as they were in Cyndi’s demonstration. He enjoyed Cyndi’s presentation but felt the product would not sell itself without her enthusiastic explanation and demonstration. He was out, too, but remarked that Cyndi was great on TV, and Safe Grabs might want to shift focus from retail, a nod to Lori, and her QVC connections.
Robert told Cyndi that he thought she was an ideal spokesperson for this unique and useful product. However, it wasn’t a product or business that he personally would be interested in, and he was out, too.
4 Down, 1 To Go
Cyndi looked understandably concerned. All four Sharks had like her, enjoyed her presentation, and praised her determination and efforts, but still decided not to invest in Safe Grabs. It would all come down to Lori.
Fortunately, Lori expressed interest in Safe Grabs and in Cyndi. Lori said that she could get Safe Grabs into Bed Bath and Beyond, Target, and other larger retail outlets, and could facilitate fulfillment of the number of sales that would go with it. To compensate for the added value, Lori wanted an increase to a 30% stake in Safe Grabs.
Trying to get the best deal possible, Cyndi counteroffered with 17% of the business. Reiterating the outlets she was prepared to get Safe Grabs into, Lori agreed to drop her offer to 25% equity. Cyndi made one last effort, offering 20%, but the “Queen of QVC” held firm at 25% for her final offer. Cyndi agreed to the deal.
Where Are They Now? Safe Grabs After Shark Tank
As it turned out, Safe Grabs was the ideal product for Lori’s QVC connections. Shortly after making her first appearance on Shark Tank, Cyndi appeared on QVC and sold out of Safe Grabs in just 10 minutes, with sales in excess of $300,000.
Cyndi returned to Shark Tank a year later for an update on Safe Grabs and her partnership with Lori. In the year since she appeared in the Tank, Cyndi and Lori generated more than $2.4 million in sales.
Now out of debt and out of her parents’ house, Cyndi was well on her way to a bright, successful future with the help of Lori and QVC.Safe Grabs was made available in Bed Bath & Beyond and every Home Depot location in the United States.
Cyndi admitted that had she gotten on Shark Tank in one of her first two attempts, it would not have gone nearly as well as it did. She needed the experience and a couple of other television appearances to gain the confidence she needed to face the Sharks. Cyndi revealed that despite the energetic and professional presentation on national television, she is actually timid and scared of public speaking.
Years of burnt fingers and a rough beginning to the business world did not deter Cyndi from achieving great success, and with Lori’s help, it is just beginning.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is strictly informational; INSIGNIA SEO is not affiliated with Safe Grabs, SharkTank, or any of its subsidiaries.