Michael Wooley is looking for an investment in his vest and backpack hybrid Vestpakz in Episode 607. The product was invented by Christen Wooley in 1999 as part of a sixth-grade science project.
Christen was already a celebrity when she was 11 years old, having appeared on Oprah and received a Disney Dreamers and Doers Award.
Christen owns the Vestpakz patent, but her hectic schedule as a teacher, babysitter, and graduate student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest kept her from joining her father on Shark Tank.
In November, Wooley appears on the Shark Tank show alongside representatives from Eastport. Walmart now carries Vestpakz products after signing a licensing agreement with Eastport.
Wooley seems to be seeking brand exposure and possibly capital to help propel his business growth.
Do Sharks try Vestpakz on to see how they fit?
What Is VestPakz?
Vestpakz is a vest with front and back pockets invented by Christen Bell, a sixth-grade student looking for a more convenient way to carry her school books.
Vestpakz’s design distributes weight more evenly and comfortably than typical backpacks.
|Founder||Michael Woolley and Arthur Grayer|
|Product||The vest and backpack work together to distribute weight evenly throughout the body|
|Investment Seeking||$50,000 for 10% equity in VestPakz|
|Final Deal||No Deal|
|Business Status||Out Of Business|
Who Is The Founder Of VestPakz?
Christen Bell developed Vestpakz, a vest with front and back pockets to carry her school books.
Vestpakz Vest does many things right; it’s one of the most exciting products ever featured on Shark Tank.
The Vest Pack/Backpack is not an entirely new concept; it was developed by 11-year-old Christen Bell as part of a science project in 1998.
VestPakz Before Shark Tank
VestPAKz board members Michael Woolley and Arthur Grayer have just been accepted into the Shark Tank. Michael is the chief financial officer, and Arthur is the largest licensee.
The company has approached Shark Tank in exchange for a 10% stake in the company and a $50,000 investment. VestPakz was invented by Arthur’s daughter when she was only in sixth grade.
Her teacher assigned his daughter a straightforward scientific project: identify a problem and devise a solution.
He designed a new backpack after his daughter discovered that backpacks were cumbersome. It is more comfortable, convenient, and fashion-forward than an ordinary knapsack.
How Was The Shark Tank Pitch Of VestPakz?
VestPakz is a vest and backpack hybrid with a useful design that helps distribute weight evenly.
Michael has been in the backpack industry for over 30 years and has never encountered anything like the VestPak.
Michael concludes by stating that with the Sharks’ investment in the VestPak, they can begin putting a lot more money in the vest’s front pocket.
This prompts Kevin to immediately shift his focus to sales, as he has maintained a grumpy expression throughout the segment.
In January and February, approximately $10,000 worth of merchandise was sold, which, as the Sharks point out, is not a lot of money.
Robert then inquires about the two men’s relationship, and Michael reveals that he owns the rights to the product, which he then licenses to Arthur, who sells it. Indeed, Arthur is the only person legally permitted to sell VestPAKz.
The two children who entered the Shark Tank and Arthur then distributed samples to each Shark, along with a lollipop.
However, grumpy Kevin suggests that it would be best to rid the children because Shark Tank is about to get ugly.
Robert then seeks clarification; the system is structured so that Arthur purchases the product and then pays a fee to Michael.
Robert requests payment, which Michael discloses will total six and a half royalties. Arthur reveals during Mark’s interrogation that each VestPak retails for between $14 and $30, depending on the model – the model Mark has retailed for $14.88 and costs approximately $4.75 to manufacture.
Robert requests the total sales for VestPakz, but Arthur begins with a brief story.
They signed a licensing agreement in November and had the product in a Big Box store (Wal-Mart) for January and February, Arthur begins.
Although the products will be available in 75 locations, the low sales indicated little interest in the VestPakz offering.
Arthur desired to make the product available before the holidays, but the truth was that production would not be completed until after Christmas.
Wal-Mart has not yet committed to reordering VestPakz, and Arthur says he is waiting to see what happens during the July-August “back to school” season. They will know at this point whether Wal-Mart will reorder.
Robert wants Arthur to put himself in Robert’s position; Robert is an investor, and a company approaches him and says they got into Wal-Mart but only sold $10,000 in two months.
This appears to be a terrible situation to Robert, but Barbara and Mark request that the two elaborate, and in November, They provide some positive news.
Arthur mentions that there is some positive news in that Wal-Mart may reorder due to their high interest, but Michael requests a slight delay while he provides some background about VestPAKz.
Michael’s daughter won a sixth-grade science contest after inventing the invention. The product was then entered into the “Million Dollar Idea Challenge,” featured on Oprah Winfrey’s show.
Barbara points out that they are still only selling $10,000 worth of stuff despite being shown on Oprah and Wal-Mart, but this was in 2003, Michael reveals.
Michael’s daughter is now 27 years old, prompting all of the Sharks to chuckle or look in surprise; Robert believed that the children who entered the Shark Tank alongside Michael and Arthur were Michael’s children.
Michael had made VestPAKz appear to be a new product with lots of momentum, and since his children were in sixth grade and Michael himself was in sixth grade, there was a mistaken assumption that it had been a recent series of events, not ten years of same.
The Sharks inquire why there was a ten-year wait, and Kevin laughs that Michael’s daughter was in product development at the time.
The Sharks have lost their focus and appear to be laughing at Michael’s sluggish approach to a potentially very profitable enterprise.
On the other hand, Lori inquires why there is an extended period of inactivity. Michael explains that he lacked the cash necessary to start the firm and acquire sufficient inventory.
Mark points out that his daughter is now 27 years old and was 11 when VestPAKz began, prompting Robert to inquire about the two guys behind VestPAKz’s 16-year slip in credibility.
Mark concurs with Robert, stating that it would have been much better had the two men immediately informed the Sharks upon entering the Shark.
Lori then inquires about VestPAKz sales over the last 16 years before moving on to more pressing investing problems. Still, Arthur confirms that the only VestPAKz sales have been the $10,000 in January and February.
Kevin then expresses his opinion, stating that when the VestPakz were designed, the “Mandy” backpack style was still extremely fashionable.
Since then, nothing has happened save for the addition of VestPakz to Wal-Mart, and nobody knows yet whether the product will be discontinued until return to school season.
This piqued Kevin’s interest, as he does not believe it is worth $500,000 until he learns that Wal-Mart will retain it again.
Regardless of whether they collaborate now or in ten years, Shark Tank and working with the Sharks will be a blip in the history of VestPAKz, given the product’s longevity.
Kevin joked that if he visits the Smithsonian and sees the VestPAKz, he will immediately regret his decision not to invest.
Michael initially states that the Smithsonian will exhibit the goods in 2015, but Kevin sharpens his attention and admits he is out of the deal. However, Arthur admits that there is a problem with the weight of schoolbooks.
They demonstrated through testing that the VestPak does indeed distribute weight effectively and may assist children carrying their hefty loads.
Robert notes that Michael appears to be a genuine individual and that the two of them did not come out to deceive them, but he has a legitimate concern.
A product being sold at Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, is even more frightening to an investor when $10,000 in sales occurs in 75 stores over two months.
Robert has also ceased to be a party to the transaction, so the statistics are not misleading.
Mark likes the product, but the goal is to invest in entrepreneurs and companies, and because VestPakz is already licensed through Arthur, there is too much gray area and too many unanswered questions in Mark’s mind. Mark also departs the deal quickly.
Barbara and Lori are the two surviving Sharks, and Barbara expresses her enthusiasm for the product, which is a reimagining of something that children purchase every other year.
However, Arthur interrupts her for a moment, and Barbara points out that this is a sad case because the product is the right one, but the entrepreneurs are the wrong ones, and she exits the deal.
Lori recognizes that the hustle and grind can become exhausting, but she believes Arthur and Michael have done well for themselves thus far.
The issue, in her opinion, is that when a product is distributed to so many stores and only sells $10,000 in two months, regardless of whether the Sharks believe the product is a good idea or not, the consumers speak.
As indicated by the low sales in two months at Wal-Mart, Lori also departs from the contract as the final Shark.
Michael Woolley and Arthur Grayer depart the Shark Tank dejected after failing to secure an investment in their startup Vestpakz.
What Happened To VestPakz After Shark Tank?
The concept is interesting, and I was hoping Michael and Arthur would expand upon it, but they haven’t done anything since they debuted on Shark Tank. Kevin put it well: Fantastic product, horrible business people.
Now, browsing the VestPakz website directs you to an ill-designed Google Forms page on which VestPakz requests your name, email address, subject, and message.
This entire endeavor is powered by “Andross Computers,” which appears to be a computer repair business.
Thus, while I adored the idea and was genuinely curious about the future of how children would commute to school and carry their complete backpack-load of books and materials, VestPakz is an unmitigated failure.
I was unable to get any information on the product or how to acquire it, but I was able to locate a large number of people that have my identical yearning thoughts that have now been dashed.
VestPakz Shark Tank Update
Vestpakz.com redirects users to the Eastport.com website, where Vest Packs are sold.
Perhaps an exclusive license agreement was already in place before this episode of Shark Tank? We already knew they had a deal with Eastport, but it now appears exclusive.
The bad news is that all four Vestpakz items on Eastport are currently “out of stock” just one day before they would be featured on the Shark Tank Show on Tuesday, January 13, 2015.
This past Christmas and the advertising leading up to the Smithsonian Innovation Festival might have helped them sell out of all backpack vests?
If the Vestpakz product cannot be purchased before tomorrow night’s broadcast, it appears to be a huge missed opportunity.