When I spoke to Marc Newburger and Jeffrey Simon to get a Drop Stop update after they made a deal with Lori Greiner in episode 419, I found two guys who are having a BLAST being entrepreneurs and who are enjoying the glow of their 15 minutes of Shark Tank fame. I wanted to know all the usual things I ask the entrepreneurs, but one question was eating at me. ABC has pretty tight Non-disclosure agreements and it was clear several weeks BEFORE they aired that they did a deal with Lori. They were on The View together and ABC press photos showed Lori embracing Marc and Jeffrey on the set. I wanted to know what the heck happened!
Drop Stop Update on Pre-Show Events
Marc and Jeffrey tried to explain what happened. “I wish we could tell you the truth about what happened before the show,' says Jeffrey, “but we really don't know what happened. We thought we weren't going to air on Shark Tank once we got booked with Lori on The View. We signed the deal before we went on and we decided to just go with the flow. Someone (at ABC) must have given approval.”
It is unprecedented to reveal what happens in the Shark Tank before a show airs, so the Drop Stop guys have carved out a niche in Shark Tank history as the first business to reveal a deal before the show.
Marc and Jeffrey have shared the history of how Drop Stop was created, but the two friends and business partners are very close. As I was interviewing them, I told them they sounded like an old married couple as they kept finishing each other's sentences! “We're brothers from another mother,” quipped Marc. “Yeah,” added Jeffrey, “we're heterosexual life mates. We are open and honest with each other at all times.”
Marc lived on Jeffrey's couch for five years as they developed the Drop Stop together. “We're both food and health coaches,” says Marc, “we were so naive. We thought we could build this business in six months. When we first started, we sent out one email announcing it and we thought we'd be out looking for beach houses.”
Drop Stop Update on the Road to Shark Tank
“We were approached by the producers two years ago,” explained Jeffrey, “but we weren't ready. We didn't have the patents; it would have been a different pitch. Cut to two years later, we re-contacted the producer and got invited to tape. We really thought we had a winning triple threat: a good product, sales, and personality.”
“We weren't going there just for the money,” Marc added, “we wanted a relationship and we were happy to make a deal with Lori. Even though it felt like the Universe was telling us to go on Shark Tank, we were scared. I've done some acting and I am familiar with reality TV show contacts. They own the rights to your name and image in perpetuity and that can go either way. We just want to save lives and share our story, to have Shark Tank share our story.”
“The beauty of our business,” Marc continues, “is nobody is as stupid to make as little money as us! We wanted a quality product and that meant making it out of neoprene, which is very expensive. We buy $200K worth at a time to keep our per unit costs down. That's one thing we love about Shark Tank- there is little trust in infomercial industry and we are upfront guys. The Drop Stop will never fall apart!”
“We studied our business for months,” adds Jeffrey, “we even plugged Drop Stop into Lori's ‘Hero or Zero' app and we failed! Marc has some acting experience and we studied non-stop. We'd be up at three in the morning practicing our pitch. We felt we were ready for anything. We taped in September and we met Ryan Cowboy Ehmann on the set. He was so high energy and he was rooting for everyone. We kept thinking, ‘we don't want to follow that guy,' and we did! We taped right after Ryan! That was tough, but it was harder not saying anything leading up to the taping.”
Drop Stop Update in the Shark Tank
“We were very prepared,” says Marc, “I thought I'd be fine because of my acting experience, but when we walked out there, my face started vibrating!”
“I felt ready,” adds Jeffrey, “I don't think I've ever been more prepared for anything in my life. We watched all the shows, we studied the Sharks; I knew if we were upfront and honest about our product, we'd be fine. Mark Cuban did us a big favor when he talked us up. We had a spiritual moment of meditation when Mr. Wonderful said ‘do you want us to join your cult now?' We were just excited to be there. For an entrepreneur, there is no bigger stage and no bigger risk. One Shark Tank appearance can instantly legitimize a business. When Lori's bid was only 5% more than what we were asking, we took a moment to talk in the hall. We took a bit too long because they called us to come back in and we were saying ‘we're coming, we're coming!' We were so happy to get a deal with Lori.”
Drop Stop after The Shark Tank
Marc and Jeffrey spent weeks making sure their website was ready and it paid off: the site did not go down! It's a good thing too, because Drop Stop did HUGE numbers. “We had 65K uniques on the night of the show with a total of something like 145K page views. It was crazy. When we aired on The View, we did $122K in sales. After Shark Tank, we did $230K, plus another $250K from two QVC shows!”
“We told Lori about failing the ‘Hero or Zero' test,” Marc adds, “and she made us do it again. We scored a 10! Lori is such a nice human being. We’re spiritual guys and Lori’s a true partner. She treats her people well. We learned a lot about dealing with QVC from her.”
Even with those great numbers, Marc and Jeffrey aren't out looking for beach houses just yet. “Those numbers are like video game numbers,” Jeff explains, “they don't count yet. Right now, we're putting everything back into inventory. The whole experience is very humbling. When we were in the airport in Philly coming back from the QVC show (which aired the Saturday after the Shark Tank), a TSA guy grabbed us and said he saw us on the show.”
It's safe to say, the Drop stop guys have a bright future ahead of them and they are well n their way to becoming one of the biggest Shark tank Success stories of season 4. Each of the guys had a bit of parting advice for would-be-entrepreneurs.
Jeffrey: “Mark's dad once told me ‘never let someone tell you when you can and can't go to lunch.' That always stayed with me and that's why I am an entrepreneur.”
Marc: “Yo have to have faith. If you never give up, no one can make you fail but yourself. We shoot for the stars and we are going with everything we have.”
I had one other question for Jeffrey and Marc; they answer it on The Hot Dog Truck.