Michael Speciale was living with his brother, Brian, after a recent divorce. While hanging out with Brian and his son, Michael noticed that his nephew was lounging on the couch watching television while wearing one of his dad’s oversized sweaters. His knees and arms were tucked in for warmth and comfort.
Marveling at how comfy and cozy it looked, the two single fathers began talking about an adult version. A nearby Sherpa blanket served as the inspiration for the material they could use to create an oversized sweatshirt/blanket combination, and the idea for The Original Comfy was hatched.
Michael and Brian put together a prototype and found a manufacturer. All they needed was some funding to get their new business off the ground and turned their attention to trying to enter to Shark Tank.
A month after creating The Original Comfy, the two brothers attended an open call for the show in Denver. Michael and Brian serenaded the judges with their own version of the Christmas carol, Deck the Halls, changing the lyrics to The Comfy. They apparently pulled it off. A couple of days later, they received a call from producers inviting them to appear on the ninth season of Shark Tank.
The Speciale Brothers Get Comfy on Shark Tank
Shark Tank Season 9 Episode 13
Soon after hitting the stage, Michael and Brian Speciale told the Sharks they were looking for $50,000 in exchange for a 20% equity share in the business. The brothers break into song while displaying and putting on a large gray blanket. Declaring The Original Comfy, a “blanket that’s a sweatshirt!”, they unfolded the giant blanket and put it over Michael’s head, transforming it into an oversized hooded sweatshirt.
After they finished the song and the brothers soaked in the ensuing applause, they explained to the panel that The Comfy was created and designed to keep people warm in the most extreme winter conditions. Users could pull their feet and hands into The Comfy for complete coverage, and the large hood could also be used as a pillow.
The Comfy was made in one size, making it easier to manufacture, and the reversible design added versatility and “styling options.” A short video showed someone curling into The Comfy on a couch while enjoying a hot beverage.
The brothers handed out a Comfy to each of the judges and invited them to relax on the couch they had with them on stage. The Sharks tried on the Comfy and settled into the couch, admitted that it was “fairly comfy.” They returned to their seats to get down to business.
Getting Down to the Numbers
Michael and Brian explain that The Comfy is a brand new product that has not made any sales, but that they are ready to produce their first substantial order. They planned on selling The Comfy for $39.99 with a $17 product cost per unit, though with more capital to produce 100,000 units at a time, the cost could be reduced to $11.
The Sharks were not impressed with the profit margin potential and turned their attention to the two brothers and the creation of The Comfy. Michael told the story of living with Brian after his divorce and getting the inspiration from his nephew, putting on one of Brian’s large sweaters as it as a blanket while lounging around the house. The Sharks found their story endearing, but still had some questions about how to make The Comfy a financial success.
Among the first and biggest concerns, the Sharks expressed was the similarity of The Comfy to the Snuggie. Lori said the only difference she could see was the addition of a hood. She reveals that she does a lot of business with what is assumed to be their primary competitor and feels The Comfy does not offer a unique enough option. For this reason, she drops out.
The brothers explain that The Comfy is designed to be worn on the go, while the Snuggles must be removed to get off the couch. Though he seemed to accept that explanation, Mark does not feel they are prepared to take the product to market, and he too backs out.
Sharks Make Offers to Invest in The Comfy
The three remaining Sharks all expressed interest, however, and all made investment offers to the brothers. After hearing that the Snuggie had sold 22 million blankets, Robert said that he was willing to invest $50,000 in The Comfy, but would need to increase his equity share to 50%.
Barbara chimed in to underbid Robert by keeping the $50,000 offer while lowering the stake percentage to 30%. Realizing the impact Barbara could have to get the brothers an online presence for The Comfy, Michael asked for the 25% Robert had offered, but Barbara declined. Kevin spoke up, saying he had not expressed his thoughts on The Comfy. After a dramatic pause, he tells the brothers he is out.
Ultimately, the brothers wisely decide to take Barbara’s offer of $50,000 and 30% of the business and leave the Shark Tank excited about the deal they made and the prospects of their business.
Where Are They Now? The Original Comfy After Shark Tank
Following their success in the Shark Tank, the Speciale brothers saw an immediate impact, selling out within 24 hours after their episode aired. That was just the beginning. The brothers extended their product line to include The Comfy Feet, Comfy Kids, and Comfy Hoodie options.
Soon after, The Comfy went viral through social media and began to get orders from more than 70 countries around the world. Realizing the impact social media and online marketing can have, Michael and Brian worked to increase their overall web presence. They have thousands of fans and followers on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and their online sales numbers, through their own websites, are robust and growing.
With the help of Barbara, The Comfy is now sold on QVC, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Amazon.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is strictly informational; INSIGNIA SEO is not affiliated with The Comfy, SharkTank, or any of their subsidiaries.