Shark Tank Experience With George Yu
How did this entrepreneur build a product, take it to Shark Tank and then sell his brand? We hear from the founder of Wind Pouch coming up in this episode of the Amazon Seller Podcast.
Welcome to an episode of the Amazon Seller Podcast. Today we have a special guest with us. I will read part of his bio and then I will tell you who he is. So I’m reading off part of his Linkedin that he has shared and connected with me there. Leveraging a natural instinct towards entrepreneurship. George Yu is an expert in finding business opportunities through everyday situations and experiences. He finds great enjoyment in creating products where most others overlook. He’s known by his peers for possessing grit, resilience, having the ability to re-engineer processes, making them more productive and efficient. And I’m sure that a lot of these characteristics have led to George having success and creating WindPouch, a WindPouch.com, which is an inflatable hammock. This went viral on social media, drove his company to over 4 million in revenue in just 18 months. Shortly after that George appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank and landed a partnership with Mark Cuban companies. So very kind of different guest than we normally have on the show. I’m honored to have George Yu with us here on the podcast to share. George, thank you for coming on.
Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Awesome! So let’s jump right into it. Tell us a little bit about this, this company WindPouch, how, how it came be, how you created it and then kinda how you got onto being in front of Mark Cuban and the other sharks?
Okay, great. So in order for me to tell that story and kind of have to go back a little bit you know, this starts off when I was a junior in college. I attended the University of Georgia. I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia my entire life. And so this was about my junior year in college and I was getting pretty fed up with school. I was on a pre-medical path that was primarily driven by my parents desire that really wasn’t what I wanted to do. And so I was losing interest by my junior year even though I was doing relatively well. And you know, it wasn’t until I was introduced to a network marketing company at that point that introduced me to the whole concept of kind of, you know, creating a business for yourself, which I was always an entrepreneur, you know, ran yard cells. I had a lawn mowing business and I always was able to, I guess, create income out of thin air, so to speak. But, you know, when I got into college, that really wasn’t an option for me. You know, everything I was listening to was primarily from my parents and my peers and people around me and college was really the only way. And so, although I’m no longer with that network marketing company, what it did teach me was to self develop. It, put me in touch with mentors that had their own, you know, six, seven, eight-figure businesses and they were working, they were not working a nine to five. And it just really showed me kind of a different picture on what life could be. And I, and I really fell in love with it. So towards my senior year of college, I was introduced to a gentleman that kind of opened my eyes to importing products from overseas, primarily China through a website called alibaba.com. And it was through that website where we started, you know, generically making hats and shirts to sell to this network marketing company community. So wasn’t really making a ton of money in network marketing. But what I found, what I and my partner found at that time was we were able to purchase hats, shirts jerseys, different art articles of clothing and slap our company name on it and sell it at these conventions to our network marketing peers. And so that was actually, we made money. We made way more money doing that than actually network marketing. So that kind of opened my eyes to the possibilities of, you know, working with overseas companies and buying products. And because I speak fluent Mandarin my, my parents are Taiwanese. I was first-generation American. I speak fluent Mandarin. It was very easy for me to speak with manufacturers overseas in China, I guess. That’s one advantage that I have and then maybe some other peers in here in America. But that’s where my love for getting products started. So so I started buying products from alibaba.com. These are just the white-labeled price you could buy now. We did drones, we did Hoverboards, we did Bluetooth speakers, you know, the typical electronic products, phone cases, things like that. And it was all a buy low sell high. And as, and this was probably, this was about nine, eight or nine years ago. And the market is completely changed since then. I mean, I remember back in the day we could buy just a plain iPhone case with no, you didn’t even have to private label it. You could just sell it as it is and you can make pretty good, pretty good revenue from it. But nowadays it grew from that to private labeling. And now what I’m doing now is manufacturing my own products. That’s, that’s where all this has led to today. So where when pounds came in was I had taken a year off after college and I was traveling the world. And at that time I was just going back and forth to Asia and looking at products and whatnot. And I found out one of the things was that I was spending a lot of time in airports and crashing on people’s couches, you know, in different countries. And I always thought about having a portable kind of sleeping device and that’s when the thought originally came to my mind. I thought to myself, well, wouldn’t it be good to have like an inflatable mattress or some kind of fold-out chair, but it could be small enough, compact enough to pack down your backpack or your carry on, but also easy enough to inflate or set up that you wouldn’t need, you know, electric pump or you know, any sort of pump or use your lungs.
So that was when the original kind of thought came out. And it wasn’t until a few months after that, I think about five or six months after that initial thought, I was taking some flying lessons with my instructor. I started, I decided to start taking some flying lessons. I needed some more excitement in my life and I was coming down from what we call a crosswind landing. And on an airstrip you see a windsock and on the windsock and it tells you which direction the wind is blowing. And I just remember taking a look at it and thinking to myself, well, that looks like a really big, you know, inflatable couch. And so from that idea, I contacted the manufacturers overseas that I had developed a relationship with. And so ask them to see if we could develop this. And that’s how it started. And you know, lucky for us, we had a, a video that went viral on youtube and that ended up getting our national attention from, you know, calls from USA Today, you know, news channels. Then we got caught the attention of a YouTube blogger whose name was Casey Neistat and he took one of our products during one of his series, which he calls a male time in which he accepts kind of Fan mail from people and opens it up and kind of read it, uses it. And he did an episode on, you can still look at it on youtube. It’s called the big gigantic balloon. I believe it got, I think five or 10 million views the first week it went up. And after that, I mean a lot of our success really came from that one video. I mean, we, we, I think at that point maybe we were a 2 to $300,000, you know, revenue company at that point. And I think after that we shot up to, you know, two to 3 million in the next 12 to 16 months, all from that one video we had, you know, we had the companies from all over the world calling us to distribute, you know, every continent wanted us besides Antarctica. And, and that’s really how we blew up. And then after that, shortly after, we got a pretty suspicious email from, you know, So-and-so at Shark Tank.com and we maybe thought it was we were so busy at the time, I think we thought it was a scam. And so we, we really didn’t pay too much attention to it and they send up a follow-up email and we entertained it. And it turned out to be one of the executive producers on Shark Tank and he wanted us to come out. He gets all the product off of one of the news channels or maybe it was Casey’s a Youtube video and he wanted us to come and jump on for season a season eight. And so we did,
Wow. Let, let me kind of want to take a step back a little bit because one of the things you mentioned was that you got into network marketing. And you know, immediately resonated with me. I was just talking to a friend last night about how a network marketing for me was the beginning of a totally personal development transformation. In fact, you might know the name Jim Quick who kinda has some good following on social media. I got in very early with him in a company and he was like my upline randomly, with one person in between us and in 2008. And while, while I would say that today I would probably never do another network marketing company again. I became the number one enroller in the company and through Internet marketing and personal development and then the company went bankrupt. But it was the best, best personal development vehicle because, you know, in network marketing there are a few things that are happening. One the only difference between somebody who’s successful and somebody who’s not is the person. Everybody has the same tools, the same abilities. And so it’s really the great equalizer in terms of saying, look in the mirror and if somebody is doing very well and you’re not, it’s you, it’s nothing else. And that’s why you really need that personal development. And it was for me it’s the only kind of system I think where somebody really has a ton of incentive to invest in you, right? Where your person who brought you in you to be as successful as you can be because obviously that’s helping them and you know, in a normal sort of workforce environment, the person above you, it doesn’t really have a lot of incentive to bring you up to their level. So, you know, it was just kind of reflecting back yesterday on this that there’s personal development is when I started to go to Tony Robbins in 2008 and really focus on personal development. That for me I think was also like the biggest sort of mental shift in, in this. So, you know, it’s one of those things that again, I wouldn’t do again, it sounds like probably your, you’re on the same way, but I, I think just as a personal development vehicle you know, I remember doing calls with Jim Quick for example. And you know, people that I had interested in, he would give them a three-way call and I just learned and learn and learn and then I would get on three-way calls. And I learned so much in terms of selling and personal development and growth and influence and persuasion and a lot of these things through personal development. So I kind of want to, I’d love to get kind of your take on that because it sounds to me like you kind of went on a similar path from, from personal development and also this frustration, right? That sometimes the worst thing is actually the best thing, right? Like you had a certain level of frustration that you know, in, in school and that sometimes the leads to your next biggest breakthrough.
Yeah, absolutely. You know, it was a going in mourns adopts on, on, on my college days. It was you know, and in some ways it’s, it’s still a little bit now. And I’ll explain that. You know, when I was graduating with a Biology degree, I knew I wasn’t going to continue to do it. I just did it because my, you know, it would, I knew it would make my parents happy and I was pretty much already there. But it, it was tough, you know, working out and having decided that I was going to continue this path of this path that isn’t really much-traveled from, you know, when you go to college, all your friends are either going to Grad school or they’re going out getting a corporate job right after, you know, their four years. So for me, that wasn’t the case. I mean, I had a choice to go to med school, but I had no intention of doing that. And you know, when you’re looking out and you’re seeing all the people around you doing, you know, having this path that’s like preset for them and everything, so certain for them and then for you, you look ahead and it’s like, well, I took this leap of faith, but you know, I can’t see more than, you know, five meters ahead of me. And you kind of just fighting through this like darkness and, you know, that’s, it’s, it’s scary. You know, a lot of times and you know, sometimes I’ve had plenty of nights where I couldn’t sleep and just wondering if I was doing the right thing, if, you know, if I should just kinda do what everybody else is doing and kind of just be on the for sure path. But you know, that’s, that’s also a reason why I ended up taking flying lessons. You know, think I maybe had a, a, I’m not sure if it was hey, a quarter-life crisis or whatever, but just I, I, I wanted, I, I loved flying and one of my buddies was a pilot and he took me on up and I kind of fell in love with it. And then obviously one thing led to another and then brought us to WindPouch. But, but yeah, I mean, I don’t regret, you know, doing network marketing. You know, that definitely opened up my eyes to personal development. I mean, that wasn’t even on my radar for something that should have needed to be done at all. I mean, it’s not something to teach you in college or my parents didn’t teach me that and yeah, that’s definitely not my friends at that time. So it’s just a new concept in it. It really just was a kind of like a gateway for me too, you know, be who I am today and I’m still constantly learning and trying to be better and you know, improving my ways and things like that.
And so you know, you have obviously an inspiring story you know, and I’m sure there are some people listening here that are in their twenties and have this sort of level of pressure from friends, parents. You know, they’re in school and their parents want them to be a lawyer or a doctor, kind of like in your case, you know, what kind of advice, right? I mean, would you tell people to follow your passion if it’s not, you don’t think this is for you, just drop out? I mean, what I listened to Gary V. A lot. He’s straight out and magic. Maybe you do too, I’m not sure. But he straight out will tell people who ask him these questions. Like, no, you need to drop out. Don’t listen to your parents, like you need to do what makes you happy. What are your thoughts on that? I mean, obviously it worked for you.
Okay, that’s a really great question. So I’d actually put my life in an experiment in multiple ways. So I read, you know, books like the one thing by Gary Keller, I’ve listened to a lot of Gary V, you know, there’s so much advice. I mean there’s, there are so many people with different ways of thought and procedures out there. I mean, like, I mean, I remember used to, you know, reading Mark Cuban schedule where he would wake up at whatever 5:00 AM and one first thing to do to brush his teeth, make his bed, you know, get a coffee, you read the news and then go to work or something like that. And I tried that for awhile. But for some reason or another, I guess couldn’t keep up with one or you know, most of that type of schedule. So, you know, I started to realize after a while that, you know, when you, when you start personal developing, I think, yeah, maybe the readers, maybe some readers can relate to this, but after you start person developing for a while and you start reading all these audiobooks and you know, when you’re driving and you’re listening to podcast and you’re listening to, you know, you’re watching Youtube videos and, and things like that, at some point in time you’re going to have just way too much information and sometimes you’ll get caught in this position where you’re actually taking in too much information and not acting on enough of it. And then you’re going to maybe sit there and wonder like, okay, I have all this great knowledge. Like every time I listen to these books or podcasts, I get excited. Like nothing’s really changing in my life. And I, and I, I hit that point a couple of times and I realized that you know, what it was as I wasn’t implementing the knowledge that I was understanding and taking away from these various mediums and I was getting this information from. And also when I would try these things, I would try to be like Mark Cuban. I try to be like, play my schedule. Like Warren Buffett. I try to plan my schedule like for example, like Gary [inaudible] schedule or whatnot. And then what I came back to and what I actually realized was that, you know, at some point I had to take a step back and say, okay, look, this is what works for these individuals. I mean, Tony Robbins doesn’t wake up sometimes until like I think like two or three o’clock in the afternoon, he doesn’t go to sleep until like four or 5:00 AM. You know, and then other people were like, you know, go to sleep at 10:00 PM, wake up at 4 or 5:00 AM, you know what I mean? So there’s, there are multiple conflicting ideologies and, and ways to be successful. You know, well, a, a successful person can only tell you how they became successful, but what they can’t tell you is exactly how to be successful for you as that individual. Because you are someone who’s unique. Everyone is a unique person and everybody was born with a gift that if they found out what that one thing they had for the rest of the world, didn’t everybody could be successful in their own way. I think today we have a culture of, you know, watching people and trying to be the next Gary V, Ty Lopez to Tony Robbins and what not. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I, I study the same people. But what I started to realize now is, is that I take the bits and pieces of their character and what they do, their activities, their thoughts, and I apply only a few of them that resonate with me because, at the end of the day, I have to stay true to who I am as a person. And as long as I’m getting my, I’m a, as long as I’m setting the right goals and I’m striving for them and I’m staying on schedule, you know, I can’t be too down on myself if I can’t wake up at 4:00 AM every day, like, you know, so-and-so brush my teeth first thing in the morning or make sure I brush my teeth first thing or last thing before I go to bed. Right. So
Do you feel like they are beating themselves up too much?
You know, I think so. I think so. You know, we’re in a culture right now where you, and I, and I, and I know this because I, I’m the same way. It’s, we’re, we’re in this culture of immediate gratification and, you know, we want things now and there’s nothing wrong with that. But the problem is that I have just learned this in the last, you know, a couple of years, is that you know, if you want things now or if you, if you, if you have a goal and you set it and you, you realize that “okay, I’ll only be happy once I get to this goal”. Once you get there and you accomplish it, you’re going to get excited. You’re like, wow, I can’t believe I did this. Now, this is like eye level. This is the baseline. I’m going to go further. And so you’re always going to be striving for this goal and you know, you’re not going to give yourself the credit and you know, look back and say, Hey, I’ve done this. Well, you know, celebrate and, and be happy with where you are.
You need to be happy and ready. Right. And then I feel like those things will come.
Yeah, correct. I mean, you, I don’t, I don’t think someone can really go the distance. Well, I take that back. Elon Musk, can he, he, he’s a, he’s an animal though. But you know, I, I just don’t think that you can not burnout and, and really be productive if you, if you’re always looking at the next step and not fully evaluating what you have currently and being thankful for that and kind of moving forward with a positive attitude. You know, it’s, and it’s also like I said, w w we shouldn’t really look at everybody else, and what they’re doing because there’s always got to be somebody that makes more money, that lives a better lifestyle, that flies to, you know, more countries than we do and travels more. But, but I think what we need to decide is as an individual is who we are as a person. What are, what are our strengths and how do we capitalize on that? And, and, and determining if the strengths that we have are somewhat different than what other people’s strengths are. Because everybody, I truly believe that everybody as an individual has something unique that the rest of the world can benefit from that no other person in this world has. And until that individual finds what that is, you know, I don’t really think that they can be successful long term. Sure. You can make, you know, millions of dollars. But success to me isn’t just about having that financial goal. It’s about having that piece as well and being able to give back because you know, this world is moving fast. There’s a lot of things going on. I think we’ll, we’ll talk about that later with China and you know, there’s a lot of environmental stuff and, and, and big, big things that are just moving past our paychecks. I think once you get to a point where you’ve made that money, you want to make, you know, now you’re thinking, well, what’s, what’s next? You know, as a, as a double what I made or, or can I make a difference in someone else’s life?
Absolutely. yeah, a lot of, a lot of wisdom in, in those in those words. So I hope people are listening and maybe playing this, playing, rewinding and playing back because yes, definitely a lot, a lot of wisdom there. Let’s jump into Shark Tank. What does that, like, how long is the pitch? Obviously I’ve heard the pitches are actually quite long, but you know, they obviously edit it down to a really quick process. What happens after the page due diligence. I also heard the show took money, but they got rid of that. I think after season one, excuse me, as far as the percentage. But Kinda what happens, you, you go on, you make this deal. What do things look like, you know, the next few months after, after joining forces with, with Mark Cuban, kind of an amazing thing? And tell us a little bit about the experience. I didn’t watch the episode right before this, I don’t remember, but did you have multiple offers? What was that like getting into the tank? It’s gotta be both, you know, exciting one of the best moments in your life I could imagine, but also kind of nerve-wracking.
Yeah. so when we got the call or when we got the email from one of the executive producers, I shortly got on a call with him later that day. And, you know, he explained to us that he was interested and I think that was in August, mid-August of 2017 if I remember correctly, and season 8 had been taping all scent or had been taping since June. And so their last taping wasn’t either late September, early October, so literally like a month, a month and a half away. So we didn’t have a lot of time. Typically from what I hear it’s a year-long process where they kind of take a tour and you’ve kind of similar to like American idol where they go to different cities and you can come and pitch. It’s not really the sharks there, it’s just really the executive producers. But they really liked our product. We had the sales to prove that we were a growing company, so we skipped I think 80% of the process and all they asked us to do immediately after that call was to send together like kind of a very rough pitch. They wanted to see how much energy I had or whoever was pitching. We decided that was going to be me. So they want to see how much energy you have. You know, they kept reiterating that, wow, it’s, you know, it’s TV, you know, you’re there to get a deal. But as they say, it’s a TV show and you’re there for entertainment purposes. So you’re either there to get laughed at or you’re there too, you know, wow. And, and you know, maybe cause tears, you know, the good American story.
So we sent them the video and they approved it. I think it wasn’t until maybe like three weeks after that they paid for my plane ticket. They flew me out to over city, California right next to Hollywood. They put me up in a hotel with things like 50 or 60 other companies that were there ready to pitch. It was a great networking opportunity. Honestly, that probably was the coolest thing. I still keep up with a lot of people that I had met. They were taping on different days. I think we were there for a week, but the taping was on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. And my day was on Saturday. It wasn’t the first day and the day before you go on onsite. Oh. And by the way, everything is paid for the pay for flights to pay for your transportation. When you landed the airport, they pick you up in a big van with a Shark Tank sticker on it. So
They’re helping you load all your luggage in the van and people were trying to take pictures and videos of using, they think you’re some kind of star on it. So that was pretty funny. And then they drive you, you know, all of us to the hotel we’ll check-in. But the day before you actually go to pitch, they bring you out to the side. So it’s what your first time seeing it. And you kind of get to see a behind the scenes of, of the set and it’s just, yeah, I mean it’s exactly what you see on television as, as far as the set goes. But the set is built in this big dusty, old warehouse, the complete opposite of the nice, gleaming that, you know, shiny stage. We’re used to seeing on Shark Tank and the double doors that open up, it’s just this like you can’t tell from the way they shoot the shot. But I mean it’s just this like very like weird hallway with nothing on either side and you’re just walking down and walking down the aisle. When you hear the music, like dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb that actually doesn’t play. So it’s very weird, you know, they’re like go, he just kind of walk and there’s no music playing and you just kind of have to keep looking at this camera and make eye contact with this camera. And when you finally walk to the x, you stand there. But but the day before when we, you know, we walked in, we got to see the sat on the charts were there and we got to, they showed us around and meet them and after that you don’t get to see it. So we went back to the hotel. You don’t know which day you’re going to be called. So we were just hanging out, you know, eating, you know, re-rerunning, over on pitch and numbers and things like that. And I was called on Saturday, I think pretty early and I was one of the first ones to, to pitch on, on Saturday. And before I went you know, one of the things that they first get you ready for is, you know, make sure you have your offering, you know, what are you going to ask for? Like, you know, when you first introduce yourself, you say, hi, my name is Jerry, my company’s WindPouch I’m just, I think we asked for $500,000 at an exchange for 13% equity of our company. And so I was prepared to give 20%. You know, I kind of built-in a buffer to go up to 20%, but I knew that I wanted to get Mark as a partner if, whether it’s Shark Tank worked out or not, whether we got the money or not, I wanted to do the email, I wanted to take the guys and I wanted to keep him as a contact for, you know, maybe future business ventures and whatnot. So, so I knew going in, I really, really wanted him, but that didn’t turn out that way actually. When I, when I pitched, I walked in the panel today, Damon John Wasn’t there. So the panel from left to right as it was Mark, It was Kevin and then it was Lori, Robert, and Barbara. Robert was on the end, but it was, it was, that was five. And you know, when, when I first came out, I gave my pitch. It was great. You know, I inflated it. I showed them how the product worked. Robert and Lori immediately came up on stage with me. They jumped in the wind college. They were bouncing up down, having a lot of fun. Mark wanted to come up and test to see how sturdy it was. He’s actually a pretty big guy. I didn’t know a, he was actually pretty tall. He’s like maybe 6’1, 6’2, 250 pounds at least. He’s a, he’s a pretty, pretty big guy and so he decides to do probably the scariest moment in my opinion. You’re not supposed to jump and the WindPouch, just not how it’s supposed to. It’s not, it wasn’t designed to handle that type of pressure. Well, Mark decides to do a trust fall you know, backwards two into one on pouches. And I mean like this guy. Yeah. I mean my heart dropped. I mean, I, you know, I’ve definitely seen a few of them. You know, when people are like jumping on them, which you’re not allowed to do. I’ve definitely seen them pop, you know, it’s an inflatable device, so it’s like, it’s like jumping on an air mattress or something. So he popped down and surprisingly, I mean he is a big guy. He talked down in it, you know, nothing happened. You just plopped and had a good time. Everybody kind of held their breath and then afterwards I kind of shook the fear off and kind of continue to talk into them. That was a, that was a pretty cool moment. Lori was the first to give me a deal on the show, I think it didn’t last, bout five minutes after my pitch that she was ready to give me money, she actually gave me what I wanted. She gave me 500,000, or she offered me 500,000, but she wanted 20%. And she said that she would also do an additional 500,000 for cash purchases. So a total of $1 million, potentially $1 million for 20%. And I, I told her thank you and I wanted to, you know, you know, with respect, I want it to hear from the other sharks. And she said, no problem. Barbara, I think was next. She told me that I think she put me to the test if I remember correctly.
It’s kind of a scary moment too, right, because it’s like if you don’t give a shark sometimes an immediate answer, sometimes they put the screws in the pressure and they go out. Right? So it’s a little bit of a right as far as how far do you want to stretch a shark by leaving their offer out there before they get upset.
Correct. So you know, luckily this was five minutes into the pitch and so like really five minutes, not, not like the edited version, five minutes, like literally five minutes since I walked on stage. So it wasn’t, It wasn’t too deep into the conversation, like barely the other sharks and had any questions laid out. So I mean, it wasn’t fair if I just went ahead and gave it deal that wouldn’t make good television anyways, so I don’t think they were too disappointed about that. So yeah, you’re right. That’s usually the case, but for me, since it was five minutes, it wasn’t that big of a deal. But Barbara was next, She told me that she didn’t really like the product at all. It wasn’t really for her and I said, no problem. I appreciated her time and in, so she dropped out and I think a Roberts didn’t I really know what to do with the product. He thought that maybe Lori had a better avenue for selling the product because she was a queen and QVC and all that. But I didn’t tell Laurie that we, we had already been in talks with QVC and that wasn’t really an issue. And I think Robert dropped out then Mark didn’t really like the product either and he didn’t really, even though we had pretty good sales to think at that point when we went on the show, we were at about 1.1 – 1.8, 1.9 million in sales to date. And within, I think it was at that point about 12 or 13 months. And so he wasn’t really that interested. And so he ended up dropping out. And I’m paraphrasing a lot of this this entire pitch probably took about an hour and a half. And so who was left was really Lori and, and Kevin and Kevin really liked the product. So Kevin usually is the mean one. The guy that everybody’s really afraid of. And I was really prepared for him, you know, all his jokes about getting run over by a bus and things of that, you know, I had an answer for everything for him, but actually he took it quite easy on me. He, he actually gave me exactly what I asked for a, he, he, he offered me $500,000 for 13% equity and he wanted to add my product in one of his like wedding kind of special events lines that he has. He has a company, he has a bunch of companies that does special events, like weddings, divorces and things like that. Special gatherings. And so I told them, thank you. But I’d wanted to hear from mark and all no, Mark had dropped out at that point. So it was just Kevin and Lori. I went back to Laurie and said, well, Laurie, you know I appreciate your offer. And I was about to go to Lori and then Laurie backed out at this point, I think this was about 40, 50 minutes. Then she said, well, you know, because it took you that long. I don’t like entrepreneurs who are [inaudible] indecisive and they kinda hurt a little bit, but you know, afterwards thinking about it now, I think that that was more for kind of drama, dramatic, you know, for drama, for TV purposes, you know. And, and before that they had asked me about my sales and competition and things like that and I was honest with them. I said, you know, we did have, you know, recently we were the first ones in America to sell it. We were, we had kind of like this open playing field that we were playing in for her for quite some time. Then our products got replicated by Chinese knock knockoffs. And then now our products, we’re selling you know, on Amazon. And we had some competitors and we were we were spending the money to send out these orders, but they were thinking that that wasn’t going to be enough, that we had to spend more money, more money, that we didn’t have.
So talk about that for a second. Is the product that Patton did. I mean, I’ve seen obviously a lot of these knock offs. Is there any sort of protection or are we just first market in that, you know, That kind of puts you in a lead position?
Well, so we actually filed our patent, we filed a design patent in 2016. I just received that design patent as a approved, I think like eight months ago, maybe six months ago.
Right. So in the meantime, somebody could do whatever they want.
Correct. So the, the way these things work is that you file a patent and then you, your filing date gets entered in and what happens, you know, that’s why companies have patent pending. They can’t really technically come after you until you know, they actually received their patents. But when it does, they can backdate all the sales you’ve done until, since that filing date and you are liable for know payments to them. They’ll, they’ll of course then you have a lawsuit. Yeah. And and you’ll, and then you’ll go through this litigation, but 99% of this stuff gets solved down to court and you just settle for a price and they’ll say, okay, well everyone pouch you sold. You know, you give us, you know, 20 bucks. If he sold them for 80 bucks, give us 20 bucks and [inaudible], you know, give us your, you don’t, you have to open up all your books, all your Shopify sales. We’ll see how many units you’ve sold and you know, times 20 bucks. And that’s usually how these things get settled or, or they’ll go to trial and you do, but, but very few people have the money in time to go to trial and pay the lawyers because end of the day you’re just paying the lawyers.
Right. So then how did you end up getting a deal with Mark? He, if he backed out.
So yeah, he backed out. This was a pretty exciting time. So Lori ended up backing out. She said you know, you didn’t take my deal earlier and then now, you know, with new information, I don’t think it’s the right deal for me. Thank you. Bye Bye. And then Kevin does his famous line of saying…
“All roads lead to wonderful!”
And he did that thing with his fingers.
I was like, damn it. All Right Kevin, come on, let’s dance. You know, I was like, all right, let’s do this. I’ve been coming home with somebody. You know what I mean?
Oh, that, that was literally, well, Kevin was the last person I wanted. I think I probably would have picked Barbara over him.
Yeah. Kevin. Nice. It was really nice. I mean, I saw another side to him that day, that and even, you know, afterwards. So that was pretty cool. So I was getting ready to say, all right, Kevin you know, this is what you’re asking for. You know, let’s do it. And, and add in the middle of me saying that, Mark, like the billionaire shark, he is come swimming. And he says, okay guys, I’m back in. And he looks at me and he says, all right, George you know, this is what I’ll give you, I’ll give you 500,000 for 20%. And Kevin looks at me and says, well, you know, that’s worse than my deal. I’m giving you, no, I’m not. I’m giving you 500,000 and you’re only giving me 13%. And so it should be a no brainer. And I kind of looked at Kevin and I said, well, well, well you’re not Mark. Okay.
Okay. Yeah, it and Mark was like, kind of give me the lies, the look with the hand motions. I was like, all right, Mark, you know thank you for coming back in. I’m pretty much just, I told him, you know, I, I really admire that on partnering with you. And so I think, you know, you can be the greatest help. So we ended up, you know, making the deal right then and there, shook his hand. There’s no, there’s no music that plays or anything. It’s really weird. It’s like super silent in the warehouse. You don’t even hear the producers in the back. You just kind of go up and shake his hand. Kevin’s like angry and telling me how dumb I am and the other sharks are congratulating me, you know, being, being cordial and things like that. And then at that point, Mark I had a bunch of WindPouches on the display stand that I had set up from what I’m told by my producers that when I walked off the stage that Mark went up and grabbed all, like 20 of them and just like took them home for him and his kids.
I didn’t get any of those back. The producers were kind of disappointed they wanted to keep some of them. I, I’d promised them a couple, but I ended up shipping them some from our warehouse in Atlanta. So that wasn’t too bad. But yeah, overall it was good. And he told me that I can get, when I get back to my trailer, his lawyer would come and he would come and talk to us, talk to me. And so they drive you in this golf cart back to your trailer. You get your own private trailer to get ready in.
Like that moment of getting a deal? I mean, must be like amazing.
You know, it’s, I don’t know, I can’t really remember everything was happening. I mean, so fast. I mean opposite at that point, you know, like my dreams were shattered, you know, like Lori dropped out in $1 million was gone. Then I love with Kevin. I wasn’t super disappointed, but I was pretty disappointed. I mean, I was less disappointed than walking out, you know, with no deal. Right. And then Mark jumping in and then like kind of taking it from there. I mean, it was just like a whirlwind of light. What the Hell is going on? You know, cause I literally, I was kind of really sad because I was like, Dang it, I’m not going to get a chance to you know, get Mark as a partner, you know, and get an email and phone number. So that, that happened and, and so yeah, so I don’t really remember. I mean, I remember being very happy, you know, going up surreal, our store member shaking his hand and him telling me that, you know, this was going to be great and, and things like that and he couldn’t wait to, you know, get in touch with me and things like that. So that happened really quick.
So yes, what level of interaction do you actually sort of get? I know obviously Mark has a team that works with is, you know, with his Shark Tank you know, businesses. What how involved is Mark, how, how, how often did you talk to them and I guess still a partner. So what, what are things look like kind of from there on to, to this point as far as like, you know, having a shark on your side, what does that look like and the impact that it makes on a company?
So so shortly after he put me in touch with his lawyer and his lawyer put me in touch with his, the head of his Mark Cuban companies, which is his conglomerative of all his businesses, including his Shark Tank businesses. And he has a whole team, I think like seven people. So I do most of my dealings with them. I do have access to Mark, I have his email and his number and I’m instructed to only reach out to them in certain cases and I’ve only had to email them, you know, a handful of times in the last couple of years I’ve, I’ve helped other people get in touch with them that to have serious product ideas and things like that. But generally, I try to respect his time. And you know, I think the rule was if you can find it on Google, you know, don’t email me about it. And so, so stuck to that pretty good. But for the most part it’s been working out with his team afterward you go through, you know, sometimes it takes up to a year, a due diligence process. For us it took about six months and then we realize that in those six months, a WindPouch, the sales were kind of [inaudible] selling and we were getting to a point where we were seeing, we either had to create another product or we have to sell the product and I think or sell the company at that time. And at that time it was a decision jointly that we would sell the company. And so we were able to find a company out of Europe, a furniture company that also wanted to buy into distribution systems here in North America in which we had, and they also sold our product in Europe, not under WindPouch, but you know, an off-brand product. We didn’t, we didn’t have a patent in Europe and things like that, so we didn’t go after him for that, but they were interested in personally seeing us. So we ended up selling to them about eight months after that. So the partnership really wasn’t that long. And today, you know, it, you know, since we sold it now I don’t know, we really don’t work with each other, I guess on that, on a wind pouch capacity. But what I’ll always want, which was just being able to pick up the phone or send out an email, that option is always there, which is also really cool.
Got It. So you sold the company cashed out and hopefully, everybody made money.
Yeah. Yeah, definitely. I w I’ll add this, is that the time to sell the company is not when you want, not when you’re forced to sell the company. Right? It’s when the sales are going through the roof and it’s like continually to go up, up and up and you think that is going to go up forever. That is usually the time to sell. And before wind pouch, I had never grown the company to the numbers that it eventually did. And I also didn’t have many mentors that had done this before. And so there was a lot of things that I didn’t know. And so I sold the company a little bit late. I think I sold it at a two and a half times multiple. If I would’ve sold about eight, nine months earlier, I could have easily gotten four to six.
Of two and a half of profit
Correct, yes. So definitely by me waiting that extra eight months, there was no money lost, but they’re definitely wasn’t. You know, there was an opportunity missed. But it’s OK. You know, I don’t, I don’t, I’m just, I’m, I’m putting that out there for you listeners to know, you know, if they’re ever in that position, definitely have mentors, have people that have gray hair on their heads, you know, 50, 60, 70 years old that have built companies to have fire. You know, they have hired and fired a bunch of employees, you know, things that you know, a normal person wouldn’t no how to deal with. You don’t want to have to figure that all out by yourself when you’re in the middle of it. Cause when, when, when the sales are rolling in and all you’re just trying to do is just keep up with the orders. Yes. Things slip through like marketing things slip through like culture and you know, you know, employees and, and you know, having the right people in the right place and things that you’re not trained to do or, or usually don’t know how to do because everything happened so quick.
Yes. And you know, I guess part of the lesson here I think especially for, you know, a lot of our audience is, are e-commerce focused, focused on Amazon and that you want to sell when there is still growth, when you’re growing, not when you are, what, not when you’ve peaked. Right. Because you want to hand off something that’s still growing and have that growth potential. And yeah, you never want to sell too early, but at the same time, my opinion is a ‘A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush” doing the book.
Yeah, Another way.
Went to south.
Okay. Yeah. Another way I’ve put that is I didn’t have an exit strategy you know, wind pouch, I never knew it was going to be as big as it ended up being. Yeah. And I didn’t really have an exit. And when sales were great, I had the false sense of beliefs somehow that is going to be great for know the foreseeable future. And I think you know, and I, and I laugh now looking back, but it was a real thought and I carried out my actions with that thought in mind. You know, I didn’t have a plan to sell. I didn’t have an extra strategy. I didn’t know what that looked like. And I had many opportunities to sell. That’s definitely, I had many opportunities to cash out. But when you’re not tuned into, you know, those types of possibilities, when those possibilities aren’t even on your radar, you know, when there’s opportunities past you, you don’t even pick them up. And so I would always, I would say I would take that back and say, you know what, with what you’re saying is don’t sell too early. Don’t sell too late. I think it really depends on you as the individual, the product and your goals and timeline. It depends on a lot of different factors. You know, can you improve the product? You know, when, when the, when it comes time to sell. I think for me now is can I do more with the product? If the answer is yes, that may not be time to sell. Can you truly innovate more on top of the product and the, the service or whatever it is? The answer is yes. Then I probably not the time to sell. If the answer is not really then, then yes, maybe a sales degrade. It’s going up and you don’t think that you can really take it to the next level. It’s either time to find someone to bring in that can or it may be time to, to look for some buyers. You know, and it’s, it’s your baby and you don’t always want to let the thing go that you’ve worked so hard blood, sweat and tears to do. But the alternative is not that much sexier either.
Got Right. Yes. And so what does kind of life look like? You sell a company. What are you, what are you out doing in the world today? I follow you follow your stories on Facebook saw you traveling to China. I’d kind of like your I kind of like your you’re, I guess what you’re doing on, on social media, which is under just do you on Facebook. What a what, so yeah. So tell us a little bit about what is life look like? You know, you sell the company then what?
Okay. Well first you know, when you sell it, it’s, it’s, it’s pretty cool. I was actually getting burned out towards the end of wind house anyways. There was a lot of operational inconsistencies and the things that we, we couldn’t work out. So when it sold, it was kind of like a sigh of relief, you know, we took the money and you know, I traveled the world and you know, I kinda got, I kind of recovered a little bit. It took me, I didn’t know how burnt out I was at that time. It took me about six months to, to fully get back to I think myself. And I think part of that burning out is you don’t really know you’re burned out until you recover and you’re like, wow. I was pretty like burnt out. I was working like 16, 17, 18 hour days, like during the day, you know, the middle of all the craziness. And so I never really took a vacation or anything during that time. And so it was great, it was a great time to kind relaxed and kind of get my thoughts together and kind of just like, everything happened so fast. You know, it’s like you don’t really, you know, I think that year and a half, a little bit over a year and a half of my life just passed so fast that, you know, you don’t think about it until you stop and like, wow, like it’s already 2000, you know, mid, late 2018. And so it was good to take a breather, travel around with you know, at that time my girlfriend and, and, and some families and friends and, you know, get curious again. I think one thing that I really missed that that really led me on that journey, which WindPouch eventually didn’t provide me, was to execute on my curiosity, to execute on my innate desire to, to, to create. And so traveling and going to these different countries, I knew that I wanted to, to continue to build products either for myself or other people. I started doing consulting, I helped other people build their products. A couple of Kickstarter companies cause a Kickstarter is a platform where people can raise good capital, but when they get the capital, they don’t necessarily know how to implement that on the manufacturing side. And with my manufacturing background and experience, that’s what I help people with now. So I do consult part-time. I also invest in real estate part-time. I took a lot of the capital and I implemented that into building new apartment complexes with a couple with two other partners. We Build low-income micro-apartments. So they’re like 390 square feet. We include all their utilities under one rent, so they don’t have to worry about getting an electric or a water bill in their name. Everything is under one flat rate price. Yeah. And that’s, that’s been doing pretty well. And the next project that I’m working on specifically with product development in manufacturing is a machine that will turn almonds into almond milk. So it’s a plant milk processor.
That’s amazing. Yeah. Yeah. You know, I did a I get a raw food diet back in like maybe 2009 or so. And actually no, to kind of go back to our story, I was introduced, I was doing raw food diet at that time. Meet a guy at whole foods introduced me to Jim Quick. And then Dave Wolf was also part of this network marketing company and I was also happened to be doing vegan raw food diet at that time and was constantly taking the almonds and putting them in a nut milk bag and making almond milk. So that’s very cool.
Yeah, that’s great! So that’s essentially what our, what our machine does instead of having to soapy almond overnight or for three, four hours you actually don’t have to soak the almonds at all. You just take a roll dry almonds and you put it in this machine and you add water and in 30 to 60 seconds you’ll have fresh filter almond milk that comes out. And so we have a, you know, there’s no, you know, nut milk bag that you have to squeeze with your hand. It’ll just come right out. And it dispenses. It’s super easy to clean. You just run fresh water through it and it cleans and all the parts are dishwasher double save. So yeah, something we’re really excited about
And, and you know, it’s kind of interesting because I also follow Ryan Moran and I’ve been in his mastermind and one of the things I recently saw posts from him and how, you know, Amazon sellers, Amazon, FBA entrepreneurs, et Cetera, they’re kind of spoiled in a sense a little bit because it’s very rare that I hear a story of an Amazon seller creating a product like this. Right? It’s mostly, okay, let me do some product research. Let me find some products that are selling well, maybe not that much competition. I’m going to go and copy and make the same, you know, and I’m going to go and I’m going to go and copy and make the same thing. And you know, with some minor tweaks maybe. And really that’s, it’s not really innovative at all. Right? As opposed to the kind of products that you’ve put out into, into the world is something that has not been done before. Now obviously, yes, you want to research your market and you want to research it or there are some keywords and searches around this to make sure there’s demand, but it’s this level of, I think innovation and creativity that takes you from selling $1 million a year to selling $10 million a year when it comes to products.
Yes, correct. I’m on the, on the flip side of that is it’s a lot more risk. You know, I’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars close to $100,000 developing this device that I have zero sales to date with. And you know, if it sells, it’s great. If it doesn’t sell well, you know, it’s a, it’s not, it’s not, it doesn’t really do too well for, for me on a financial level. But, you know, it’s just something that I like it. I think it goes back to who you are as a person. And I, I genuinely take a lot of gratification in creating something new. And I, I don’t like it’s, it’s like for example, the, the five five hour energy example. I think I heard the CEO Fiber energy in a podcast or something, or he was quoted somewhere, but they’re asking him why, you know, how did Fiber energies become successful? And it was the fact that he was looking around and he was competing with big brands like red bull monster, you know, oh, there are other brands. And they were fighting for what they call retail real estate, which is, you know, store, shelf inside the coolers at gas stations inside the fridge. And you know, your local grocery store. So he realized, well, I want it to create a energy drink, but I don’t want to have to compete with them from the, you know, they, these are companies that have already been in the market for like a few years ahead of fiber energy and he realized that, you know, how do you just, how do you undercut the competition? Like, how do you get ahead of him? Like you see what they’ve done? Of course they’re first movers in the market place, but there downsides and being the first mover in the marketplace, you know, as a second secondary person coming in, you can see all the mistakes the first companies made and you can start at their baseline, which is exactly what China does. China takes all the products all over the world. They copy them that they make it their baseline and they improve on it. And I, I used to hate that, but now I, I, I don’t know if I can hate China for that, you know? If, if I only try it as if, you know, if I was the president of China, that’s probably what I would do.
Right? I mean, they’re obviously doing something right.
Yes. And you know, there’s pros and cons of those systems. But, but going back to the fiber energy example, he decided, well, what if I, instead of competing for shelf space, I put the five-hour energy at the cash register where there are zero-energy drinks. And that’s how really, I mean, I’m not saying that’s the only reason that fiber energy became a success, but I mean that’s more or less the reason that anybody really grabs the fiber and gs when they’re checking out, they need a quick boost. They just grab it, they added to their order, you know, and so I wanted to do the same thing for almond milk. I saw a lot of I went to a natural food expo with one of my friends in Anaheim, California and I had seen, you know, tons of almond milk company, they just want it to be the next almond milk company. And I started getting to things like, wow, this is the trend. And I started doing research and you know, almond milk is going to be a, it’s a 20, I think it’s like a $15 billion industry right now. And by 2030 is going to be, it’s going to double that. It’s going to be about 30, 35 billion. And so it’s on an upward trajectory when traditional dairy is dropping about 10% a year. And so I started getting to think like, well, you know, instead of buying almond milk from the stores, which is heavily like processed and additives and flavoring in only one to 2% almonds, why can’t we just build a machine where people can make their own fresh on the milk at home and they can control the ingredients that go into it? And it doesn’t matter if almonds are popular this year and coconut or walnut milk is popular next year. My machine can process all of it. It’s actually a plant note processor. So it’s not just limited to almonds. You can do rice, oats, you know, Pecans, walnuts, anything.
Amazing! And is there, is there a place already people can go to get more info on it or,
Ah, not yet. Not yet. So we’re in prototyping phase now and you know, we’re, we’re we just had the final one done and we’ll be, we will be starting manufacturing literally a couple of months actually, so soon.
Wow. Great. This was some really great a discussion, you know, about entrepreneurship, mindset, what it’s like to be on Shark Tank. I think this was really interesting. How do people get in touch with you for consulting work? What kind of clients do you work with? And yeah, feel free to share how people can get in touch with you for some consulting or help that you, that you do for entrepreneurs.
Sure, sure. The best way to reach out to me is either through my email on Linkedin, my email can be reached at George@WindPouch.com. Just my first name @windpouch.com, and then you can also find me on LinkedIn. I, I use LinkedIn quite often and my name on there is George Yu. It’s spelled Y-U. And, and you can find me there. And typically what I do for clients that as you’re looking for consulting you can reach out to me via email or LinkedIn. And I typically try to work with individuals or companies that have at least, you know, I would say like 5,000 to $10,000 to invest into their product. I’m not the person that really helps them from the ideation stage. I would prefer to help people that are new past the idea stage, have the capital and are ready to go into manufacturing. And I help them starting them with finding the companies, finding the factories and the prototyping facilities and things like that.
Awesome. great. So yeah, hopefully, you know, some people that need some help, we’ll, we’ll read a vast experience. So really appreciate you coming on the podcast and sharing with us. And yeah, I’m looking, looking forward to to that nut milk machine myself. So thanks a lot for coming on the show, George.
Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.
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