I spoke with entrepreneur Jim O’Brien to get a Man Medals update on his progress since appearing in episode 505. Jim had a very funny and good-natured pitch and product, but it wasn’t enough for the Sharks to invest in. He left the Tank with no deal, but this Man Medals update has a very happy ending! After the show Jim had a lot of investor interest and he found someone willing to give him the deal he was asking for in the Tank ($10K for 10%); wait until you find out who it is!
Man Medals Update: Background info
Jim O’Brien is no stranger to mass media. The velvet toned entrepreneur is an executive producer and sports broadcaster for WCSX 94.7, Detroit’s classic rock station. “It was either that,” Jim jokes, “or the drive-through at Wendy’s!” The idea for Man Medals is no secret: it started as a joke between Jim and his wife. “We started the business in November , 2012. I made sure we had all the trademarks in order and started selling them locally. People loved them.”
“There was some blowback from a few people. I remember one blogger took offense to the idea because ‘it promoted women doing household chores.’ I talked to the woman and tried to tell her it’s where you’re at in life that makes it funny. I told her: ‘with all due respect you’re 23 and you’re not married, so maybe you aren’t supposed to get the humor in it.’ It’s one of those things: if you internalize everything you end up being a Yankees fan!”
Jim didn’t need to wait long for his big chance. “I sent in an application and got a call back asking to do a video. I’m convinced the video sold them. I had a male model (my exact body double) vacuuming the house, putting on a toilet paper roll, etc. They must have liked it because they called back. Luckily, Ahmad – my video model – had moved to California a few months before we taped, so he got to recreate the role on Shark Tank. After we taped, we re-did the website.”
Man Medals in the Tank
“I didn’t know what to expect, but none of the Sharks were mean or anything. Right before we taped, we had a retail display product that’s currently selling well. It was ready 5 days before I went to LA. I would have liked to have had more sales before we went on, but when Shark Tank calls, you go!”
“We weren’t taping that long, but I would have liked the discussion about medals in general to have made the cut. I’m a Navy veteran from the submarine service and there was a whole discussion about why guys like medals. They cut that.”
Man Medals Update on New Investor
“Obviously, we didn’t get a deal, but we had a lot of interest. The website crashed twice, so that was a ‘FAIL.’ The most interesting thing was I received nine or ten inquiries from would-be partners after we aired. While vetting the inquiries, I discovered one was from actor/comedian Kevin Brown from Thirty Rock; he’s the guy who plays ‘Dot Com.’ He said he’d do the same deal I asked for on the show: $10K for 10%. I just cashed his check, so we can keep the lights on for another month!”
“Kevin plans to be active promoting the brand. Having a celebrity at your booth is great at trade shows. He’s also planning on doing a ‘manly comedy night’ where we promote them. It’s cool having him on board, you send out so many things and get so many inquires, when you actually hear from someone who’s serious, it’s pretty damn cool.”
“One of the things we’re working on came from Lori’s suggestion (also not shown on air). She thought it would be great to have individualized medals, so we’re working on a solution for that. It’ll be out in the first quarter. The increase in sales has been absolutely mind-boggling – and it continues because people DVR stuff and catalog stuff in their heads. A lot of people are ordering Man Medals for stocking stuffers. We got retail opportunities that wouldn’t have happened if we weren’t on Shark Tank. It’s not a quick process, but we have to have volume. I don’t know where its gonna go, but its gone faster because of Shark Tank.”
Jim struck me as a guy who likes to have fun with his business, but when I asked him what inspires him, he got serious. “When I was on Shark Tank I was crushed. It took me a few weeks to get over it, then I thought of a friend of mine whose husband was a Detroit police officer killed in the line of duty. That level of loss is incomprehensible. We were talking about life one day, and she said, ‘you know what – just keep swimming. If you let people knock you down , keep on swimming.’ When you have those days as an entrepreneur, you keep swimming.”
Jim answered one other question over at The Hot Dog Truck.