'Shark Tank' entrepreneurs step into footwear market with shoe/slipper
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'Shark Tank' entrepreneurs step into footwear market with shoe/slipper

Aug 01, 2023

On Friday’s “Shark Tank,” three entrepreneurs from New Jersey introduced a product the sharks have never seen before: an alternative to the house slipper.

Asking for $200,000 for 15% of their company, Ryan Cruz, his brother Eric and their best friend Kevin Zamora are the creators of Muvez, a line of slippers designed to be worn in and out of the house. Upon entering the home, the shoes’ hard rubber soles pop off, and they transform into slippers. The shoes were designed as a solution to wearing shoes in the house.

“Sharks, I don’t know about you, but when guests enter my home and they keep their shoes on, it drives me crazy,” Eric said.

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Shark Daymond John, who has businesses in the footwear space, loved how inventive the product is: “I think they’re cool, and the design is cool, too.”

But shark Mark Cuban had a bone to pick regarding the color of the pair they gave him: “You gave me Carolina blue? You gave me Carolina blue?” The trio said the shoes were called Maverick Blue after Cuban’s NBA team, but Cuban disagreed. “(It’s) Carolina blue.”

When developing the product, the men ran into problems. A factory in China thought the product was impossible to produce. To prove the concept, the trio bought supplies from a hardware store and designed a prototype in their garage to show manufacturers. It costs $26 to make the shoes and $8 to produce the outer soles; they sell for $99.95 on the company website. At the time of filming in 2019, Muvez had made $73,000 since launching in April.

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The sharks loved the product, but were unsure how the company was going to brand itself. The footwear industry is a notoriously difficult market to crack. The trio wanted to attract a platform of pro athletes to endorse their shoes as an athleisure product (something to wear after games).

“It’s different, no question about it. You walked in here with something we haven’t seen before,” shark Kevin O’Leary said. “When it comes to shoes, that’s rare.”

The problem for O’Leary wasn’t their valuation of the company, but the fact that breaking into the footwear market requires a lot of work and money. It was an issue for Cuban – who confessed he wasn’t a slippers guy – and shark Robert Herjavec. too.

“I think the branding of it is going to be really, really hard. I wish you all the best, because it is a fantastic product,” Herjavec said. “I just don’t know how you’re going to get it to market without burning massive amounts of money.”

Shark Lori Greiner was interested in the product, but didn’t have the expertise in the men's footwear industry. She was willing to partner with a shark on the deal. But John wasn’t interested in partnering with Greiner or another shark, hesitant to make an offer at all.

“I love the design, I love the product and the ingenuity. I don’t even want to insult you with an offer,” John said. But he was finally being coaxed by the trio. John would give them the $200,000, but he wanted 33.3% of their business.

The three quickly realized why the show is called “Shark Tank,” and counter-offered with 25% of the company. After a moment of hesitation, John agreed.

“Having Daymond on board, we believe we can be a global brand in a few years,” Eric said. “His licensing and manufacturing capabilities will strengthen and accelerate our growth. And we couldn’t be happier. Daymond is our dream shark.”

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