We all love our pets, but removing their fur from our clothing can be the stuff of nightmares. The washing machine dutifully lifts off stains and grease, but the residue of dog or cat cuddles stubbornly remains.
A chance discovery by one of the pioneers behind FurZapper led to a business idea that has brought relief to many thousands of satisfied customers and set two aspirant entrepreneurs on the road to success. The solution was simple – don’t put up with pet hairs on your clean clothes, remove it during the wash.
The FurZapper concept was the subject of a pitch to Shark Tank by Harry Levin and Michael Sweigart, and the much-impressed Sharks embarked upon a fierce battle for the trust of the two men behind this superb innovation.
Eventually, Lori Grenier emerged victorious As of 2022 FurZapper’s net worth was in the region of $5 million, and the product is readily available on Amazon to the delight of pet owners everywhere.
It has come to serve as an example of how a relatively simple design can transform the lives and experiences of so many people.
At a Glance
Marketer Levin and attorney Sweigart went into partnership to form FurZapper after having designed and patented their product.
In their pitch to Shark Tank, they asked for $600,000 for a 10% share in the project. Barbara Corcoran offered the full amount but for 20% equity in the company, whilst Lori undercut her slightly by asking for 19.9%.
Mark Cuban went it at 15%, and Kevin O’Leary offered an interesting alternative option of a $600k loan at 9.5% interest for a 5% stake. When Lori revised her offer to £600k with 15% equity the duo decided to take her up on it.
Who are the Founders?
Michael Sweigart is the CEO of FurZapper which he operates in partnership with Harry Levin, a manager and managing partner at Levin & Associates.
He was already an entrepreneur with a flair for invention and carries a notebook to jot down new ideas as they come to him.
In January 2010 he launched his own company under the name of Purpose Advertising.
He has held a number of posts in sales, marketing and business development and has also worked at an imports and exports business as well as at a company selling corporate security systems.
Did FurZapper Get a Deal on the Show?
All four Sharks expressed an interest in this project, and they competed with one another to land the deal.
After much deliberating Lori Grenier, with her history of successful investment in pet products, saw her offer of $600,000 for a 15% share in the enterprise accepted by the two businessmen.
What Happened to the Entrepreneurs After the Show?
CBS, Forbes, the New York Post and Newsweek were among the big titles to feature FurZapper once it had secured investment following its appearance on Shark Tank.
Just a week after the program had aired literally thousands of orders were shipped out in a single day. Existing stocks swiftly sold out and for a while all efforts were concentrated on fulfilling existing orders.
Once all the initial excitement had died down the entrepreneurs turned to paid social media advertising to maintain interest and generate fresh business.
About the Product
In spite of Michael Sweigart’s innate talent for invention, it was a chance happening which led to the creation of the groundbreaking FurZapper product.
One day, while washing his own laundry, he inadvertently dropped a piece of silicone into it.
He noticed that the animal fur from his own clothing, which hitherto had proved difficult to detach from his fabrics even when washed, was clinging to the rogue silicone among the washing.
Knowing instantly from experience what he needed to do next, he quickly applied for patent protection.
Then, in partnership with Harry Levin, he designed a simple small product made from the same silicone featuring the shape of an animal paw, but which had the functionality of a fur remover that could be placed into the wash alongside any soiled clothing.
The result was a popular product that solved a problem that had been blighting the lives of millions of pet owners around the world.
Some Interesting Facts
Lori Grenier was always going to be the perfect support act for Harry Levin and Michael Sweigart, and their uncomplicated but wonderfully effective FurZapper creation.
After all, she had only recently invested a quarter of a million dollars in another project known as Shed Defenders, an item of canine clothing which helped prevent fur shedding around the home.
Whilst financial backing was ever welcome, to receive it from somebody who understood the market was an added bonus.
It was helpful that the men behind the project were social media savvy. Platforms such as Instagram and TikTok were used to great effect when it came to marketing the product and conveying up-to-date information to potential customers.
Needless to say its appearance on Shark Tank, and the fact that all the Sharks had been enthusiastic about it, only helped to talk up its effectiveness.
Within a few days five-star reviews had begun to appear on Amazon. A deal with Walmart had already been secured even before the product’s appearance on Shark Tank.
Even during the pandemic sales of $4 million were achieved within a year, and the product received awards from ECRM Buyers Choice, Family Choice and SuperZOO!