Screenmend Update Interview

screenmend updateI spoke with Brian, Emma, and Lily Hooks recently to get a Screenmend update on what went down after Shark Tank. As a father of four girls, I was intrigued by their story (I really wanted to see how they got along OFF SCREEN)! The girls assured me they get along very well, and Brian concurred.

In case you missed it, The Hooks family (sans mom) got a deal with Lori Grenier in episode 507. She offered them $30K for 50%, after Mark Cuban made an impassioned speech about how he wouldn’t let them leave without a deal because he wanted to stand up for them the way his dad did when he started his first business. Cuban offered $30K for 25%, but after a meeting “in the hallway,” Brian and his daughters accepted Lori’s offer. “We were hoping to do a deal with Lori,” Brian explains, “Mark’s offer looked more dramatic due to some ‘editing magic.'”

Screenmend is Born

The story of how a 9-year-old girl “invented an easy way to patch small holes in window and door screens” makes for great TV and it’s a neat story, but it didn’t happen overnight. “It was kind of me and my dad,” Lily explains, “we had an ‘AHA moment’ but it didn’t happen right away.”

“We weren’t really thinking of a business,” Brian adds, “we wasted most of the day figuring out how to apply the wax. A year later the patch was still there and we thought maybe we could sell them and make a business out of it. Emma was taking a computer class and she set up a website. We had no sales for a year, but Emma kept sending out samples to newspapers. One day, a paper picked up the story and it got syndicated in about 100 papers. We woke up one morning in July 2012 to dozens of orders! That’s when we applied to Shark Tank. They told us we were too late for season 4, but they called back in May 2013 and encouraged us to re-apply. Everything happened pretty fast after that – we taped in July 2013.”

Screenmend In the Shark Tank

“Mom came with us to California to tape,” says Emma, “and it’s a good thing. We were on the set and the producer said my striped dress wouldn’t look good on TV. I thought we were going to get the rug pulled out from under us at the last minute, but mom ran back to the hotel and got a new dress. It was mom to the rescue!”

“Lori gave us a lot of on-stage due diligence,” Brian continues, “she was checking the product out very closely.”

“It was really cool,” says Lily, “we had our own trailer.” Lily and family enjoyed being on a professional set and they told me Shark Tank is filmed on the original Wizard of Oz set! They did the Hollywood “tourist thing” as a family before heading back home and waiting to hear when they’d air.

Screenmend Update on Life After Shark Tank

Many web developer types may cringe when they hear about the Screenmend website. Emma put it together on Weebly and that’s what they were using on show night. It never crashed. “Sales have been fantastic since the show,” Brian explains, “we sold 750 units before the show – we sold that in ten minutes on show night. Orders were coming one per second the day after the show, and around one per minute a week after.  They’re still coming in at a good clip.”

“Our last conversation with Lori was about two weeks ago,” Brian continues, “she’s looking for manufacturing. We’re renting a garage with a 14 foot cutting table and we can go through 100 foot rolls of screen in 20 minutes. There are quite a few kids helping us pack envelopes.”

Lily didn’t feel the full effects of her celebrity status after their October 11 appearance. “I didn’t have school the following Monday, then we had a field trip for the rest of the week, so I wasn’t sure if a lot of people saw it. When I went back the next week, I found out they did! We watch as a family. I started watching How I Made My Millions with my dad, but when I found Shark Tank, I liked it better. It has a ‘funner format.” Now my grandma calls and discusses it with us – at this point, I think half the town is watching.”

Emma, on the other hand, was an instant celebrity in her school. “Now I’m known as the ‘Shark Tank Girl.’ My vice-principle ‘yelled’ at me for not telling him I was going to be on! One of the business teachers asked me to speak in his class.  It’s sparked a lot of debate, too. People are always saying ‘you should have gone with Mark.’ Over all, there’s been incredible support from family and friends.”

As far as hard sales number, Brian says “I don’t have them off the top of my head, I’m just hoping to pay for college. It’s hard to say where it will go, Screenmend’s had great reviews. I’m happy passing along the knowledge to the girls. Now that we have tools to create ‘the next big thing,’ the girls have taken a ten-year leap over their friends. My ‘day job’ is a pilot and I’m still flying. I’m  happy to pass it to the girls. It’s ‘their thing,’ I am just guiding it and I like where it’s going. We heard from some BIG BOX people we’re excited about and had a lot of inquiries from retailers, we were just  too busy to get back until last week. It look likes some of them are going to pan out.”

As for working with Lori, it’s mostly by phone and email. Emma gets a kick out of it when Lori calls: “I’m like ‘hey mom, I got a millionaire on the phone – I’ll be right with you!’ Lori is such a sweet woman and she know’s what she’s doing.”

The Hooks girls may have a good business on their hands, but they have other interests, too. Emma is an “undiscovered actress” who has pursued acting since she was four years old and, according to her father, has “never wavered from that goal.”  Lily, when she’s not running the business, likes to dance & play lacrosse and tennis.

Brian and Emma think Lily is the entrepreneur in the family. “She’s got some business savvy,” says Brian. Emma follows with “their’s definitely some Shark in there!”

Parting Words

I asked the girls what advice they could give to other entrepreneurs of ANY age. Emma said: “Never think you can’t do it, just figure it out along the way. So many doors open up when you start something and keep going with it.” Lily had good advice too: “Just go for it – you never know until you try. You’ll rarely be worse off.” Sound advice from some smart girls with a bright future.

I had one more question for the whole family. They answer it over at The Hot Dog Truck.

 

 

 

About Rob Merlino

Entrepreneur, auteur, raconteur. Rob Merlino is a blogger and writer who enjoys the Shark Tank TV show and Hot Dogs. A father of five who freelances in a variety of publications, Rob has a stable of websites including Shark Tank Blog, Hot Dog Stories, Rob Merlino.com and more.

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