An Idaho couple just made a splash on "Shark Tank," sealing a deal for $200,000 in investment and securing some additional funding for a cause close to their hearts.
Chris and Geanie Rodgers, of Eagle, brought their utility rope product on the ABC show, where a handful of well-known investors hear pitches from entrepreneurs hoping for financial backing. The episode featuring the Rodgers' product, called Rapid Rope, aired Sunday on ABC.
Rapid Rope is a flat utility rope that's packaged in a canister so it can be easily dispensed and cut to size, the couple told the Statesman in a phone interview. About eight years ago, Chris and Geanie conceived of the idea for a new version of the essential item that wouldn't impede their outdoor adventures.
"I've been a huge outdoorsman for my entire like," Chris said, " ... and we always had some kind of utility rope with us. It was always a mess, but you had to have it with you." The Rodgerses riffed on that experience for their Shark Tank pitch, where they staged a zombie attack to help illustrate how useful their product can be. As Chris held off the undead assailant, Geanie fumbled with a tangled utility rope before trading it for a canister of Rapid Rope, which the couple quickly used to ensnare the zombie.
The act caught the attention of guest "shark" Rohan Oza, who helped build huge brands like Vitaminwater and Popchips.
"I loved the pitch. That zombie is one of the coolest intros that I've seen," Oza said.
The Rodgerses quickly got down to business: They were looking for a $200,000 investment, with the investor getting a 20% stake in the company. The Rodgerses said they'd already invested $115,000 of their own money in the company and seen $172,000 in lifetime sales, making them debt-free.
Still, the couple said, they'd like to be able to focus completely on their company. Chris has continued to work as an electrical lineman to provide for the family after Geanie quit her nursing job to care for one of their five children full-time. The 12-year-old, whom the couple adopted from Ethiopia, has been in and out of hospitals after being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis.
As the Rodgerses told their story, the sharks began to bail one by one. First, Lori Greiner opted out. She was followed by Mark Cuban and Kevin O'Leary, who each said they didn't know how to "blow up" an outdoorsy product like Rapid Rope.
Next, Oza declined an investment -- but not before pledging $10,000 to a nonprofit the Rodgerses work with the build schools in Africa.