Million Dollar Monday

How to Win Big with Clients like Daymond John from Shark Tank

October 18, 2021 Greg Muzzillo
Million Dollar Monday
How to Win Big with Clients like Daymond John from Shark Tank
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

“The biggest risk in life is not taking risks in life” are words of wisdom from Mike Watts, an entrepreneurial expert with three startups and over $60 million in sales. Watts discusses with Host Greg Muzzillo how he was able to successfully strike a deal with Daymond John from Shark Tank, but not in the typical way that you might think. Tune in to Million Dollar Monday to hear an important strategy to achieve massive success.

Chapter Summaries

Key Takeaways

  • I always say a presentation without a demonstration is nothing more than a conversation
  • What I'm hearing the most, the number one thing is, I think you believed in yourself mightily, but more importantly, you just weren't afraid to hustle 
  •  My dad always said, son, you can't lean on a shovel and pray for a hole
  • I feel like this is going to be that, that mark, that we leave in the world, that brand, that everybody is eventually going to know
  • So I picked up the phone and to many people hearing that it might sound obvious, but there are a lot of entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs listening to this right now that may even have those moments, like, should I call, uh, wouldn't that be amazing if this happened, but because of call reluctance or fear of rejection or whatever, they don't pick up the phone and make that call. And I think if you're an aspiring entrepreneur, you need to listen to the wisdom of what Mike just said. So I picked up the phone. The worst thing that could happen is they don't answer. 
  • Next thing you know, about two months later, the phone rings and it's Daymond John saying Mike Watts, I've heard so much about you. I had to talk to you. Um, I don't do this, but you know, everybody loves your product here. I love your product. My wife loves your product. Let's see what we can do. Let's see we can work out a deal.
  • The biggest risk in life is to not take risks in life.

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Mike Watts :

I was monitoring my website for orders. And I saw an order come across from a company named the Shark Group and it was very interesting to me, that it sounded like Shark Tank. And I'm like, why is Shark Tank ordering? And I realized that this is, and I didn't know why I didn't know this yet, but this is Daymond John's marketing company based in New York City. And they were ordering my product. And I was like, well , look at that, there's a phone number on there so I picked up the phone and I called and I was like, Hey, can I talk to Daymond? And they're like, no, you cannot talk to Daymond, but I'll talk to you. And so I built actually a relationship with receptionist there and she's still there today. And , uh, I started sending product to their office and I made some with his latest book title on it. Next thing you know, two months later, the phone rings and it's Daymond saying Mike Watts, I've heard so much about you. I had to talk to you. I don't do this, but you know, everybody loves your product here. I love your product. My wife loves your product . Let's see what we can do. Let's see if we can work out a deal.

Greg Muzzillo :

Hello, and welcome to Million Dollar Monday. I'm your host, Greg Muzzillo bringing you real successful people with real useful advice for people with big dreams. I understand big dreams. I turned an investment of $200 and a lot of great advice from some really successful people into my big dream Proforma. That today is a half billion dollar company. Well, hello and welcome. We have a great guest today who is a business entrepreneurial expert with three startups and over $60 million in sales from them. And also he has a great story about how he was successfully able to do a deal with Daymond John of the Shark Tank, but not the typical way you might think it happens . So let's just get started here, Mike, Mike Watts . Thanks for joining me.

Mike Watts :

Thanks for having me on Greg.

Greg Muzzillo :

Yeah. All right . So I like to start at the beginning, you know , tell us a little bit about where did the first idea for the first business and what was the first business? Tell us about that.

Mike Watts :

Yeah, so, you know, in my bio always put that we have three startups , but really there's many more that were led up along the way it kinda started with , my wife actually saw Robert Kiyosaki on Oprah and she ordered his book. And for me, rich dad, poor dad, and we read it together and it became, it really opened our eyes to like the life of a entrepreneur, how money works and how to create cashflow . And , because our goal was essentially for her to be able to stay home with and invest in our family while I went out and, you know, one brought home the bacon and the corporate world was not allowing me to advance at a pace that would allow us to move from a two income to a one income family fast enough. And so we started hustling at home and garden shows, selling everything from well, in fact , I have one right here because I did a presentation last night. This is our very first product called Rain Sorb. There are poly acrylamides crystals that will soak up water and you can grow plants out of them and you can put your flowers and the range of flowers and color them and decorate with them. And we would, we would go to every craft fair and state fair and sell these things. And she would bag them up during the week and make all my displays. And we would go out on the weekends and hustle. And so we spent every, every weekend, every sick day, every holiday , out working, you know, grinding and traveling around it'll trailer that we pulled around and then eventually had a two-year-old under the table watching veggie tales on me and her work in the show. I looked like you had a microphone on my head and, and I'm up on an elevated platform with lights and she's over there taking money because I didn't she didn't let me touch the money, but , that was our early entrepreneurial venture. And, and then eventually we started just cycling through products, lucky, bamboo, and , yard decorations and hand carved wooden airplanes. And then we set up kiosks in malls and we just kept flexing this, you know, trying to explore, trying to see what works, which eventually led me to the licensing path. I was at a trade show in Houston, Texas. When I met this guy named Orlando Drez who had invented what will become the pivot trim . He called it the one to trim at the time. That's his here , it's an aftermarket. We need her head that goes on any gas tremor and the lines pivot on top. And that allows the line to not break off. It's easy to load. You don't have to wine the line on. And , when I saw the product, I was like, that's amazing. I just want to be able to sell that. And he had filed for patents and was looking for someone to license it. So he suggested it. I explored it and we decided, you know what, let's leave this corporate nine to five job. And , you know, all in all the security that came with that, at that point, we had three children at home under five but we did it anyway, stepped out in faith and had saved up a little bit of better heads money and have a little bit of passive income coming. And so we licensed this patent and started on our first real company , back in 2015.

Greg Muzzillo :

So the inventor of the product, I'm guessing maybe wasn't as entrepreneurial or maybe sales savvy as you. And so he wanted to, did he want to partner up with you , because of your being able to bring that to the table and ability to be more entrepreneurial and sell the product better than he was doing?

Mike Watts :

I think so. And the correction it was 2005, not 15, but so it all started at a home and garden show in Houston, Texas. I had five different booths scattered across this building and he was there. It was his very first trade show. And he was looking for, I think he was looking for somebody just like me. And I was really felt like an ordain moment, right? Like we were supposed to meet there, but I mean, I was selling garden products and landscape products. And of course my rain sorb there and had my gifts. And he was just impressed that I was out hustling and that I could clearly sell. He had, he was actually an amazing guy, too. He was from Nicaragua, fought against the Sandinistas, narrowly escaped with his life, floated out in the ocean. It was picked up by a US cutter ship, ended up in new Orleans and is a really smart developer and disbelieved in himself. And so he made this product to solve his problem and then decided he wanted to make a company. But because he didn't speak English very well and I speak a little Spanish and it was just struggling. He knew he needed someone to partner with and that's how it all started.

Greg Muzzillo :

So you found him or he found you, how did, how did the actual first seeing the product happen?

Mike Watts :

Yeah, I found him. I was walking by his booth. I'm looking for, you know, silver on the sidewalk, if you will. And he had a demonstration going in his booth where he had a clear plexiglass box with a chain link fence on the inside. And he had an electric trimmer in there cause they wouldn't let him run the gas on it. And he's grinding this thing on the fence and making all this racket, but the line wasn't breaking off and I'm all about the demonstration. I always say a presentation without a demonstration is nothing more than a conversation and , but he had the demonstration down. And so that's what really got my interest was that. And so we started talking,

Greg Muzzillo :

So you come up with an agreement and I think that company was called better heads.

Mike Watts :

That's right. yea.

Greg Muzzillo :

You had an exit. So tell us about your exit. Yeah, it was a pretty amazing deal. Now we sold our company the better heads LLC company. And though that was the weed-eater head , uh , to our largest customer , uh, who was a distributor that was owned by a big conglomerate out of New York. And they had our contract was ending and it was either going to be, we were going to be their competitor going forward and we were going to have to compete against the 10,000 pound gorilla or , we could sell to them. And I actually brought up the idea of selling to them because it felt like I had gotten every account I wanted to get we were pretty globally distributed and I didn't see a lot of growth. And so we worked out a deal. It was about a nine month process to go through due diligence. And, you know, they want to know every, every little detail.

Mike Watts :

And so we did that to their satisfaction. And one day they transferred $6 million into our account. And the cool thing about that was that I, along the way we had taken on investors, that's the only investors I've ever taken on. but there was, we were talking about it's my grandmother and grandfather, my aunts and uncles, my best friends that we had got early stage investment from. And so then we had, we're able to go back and then really give some big returns back to those people that trusted us with their money early days. And so it was a neat experience.

Greg Muzzillo :

What I'm hearing the most, the number one thing is, I think you believed in yourself mightily, but more importantly, you just weren't afraid to hustle,

Mike Watts :

Right? Yeah. My dad always, my dad always says, son, you can't lean on a shovel and pray for a hole.

Greg Muzzillo :

So now somewhere along the way , you have had an exit, you're now a millionaire multimillionaire . You've got this other business going and growing, but now you start have your third startup . Tell us about that.

Mike Watts :

Yeah. Well this one's really, I feel like this is going to be that, that mark, that we leave in the world that brand, that everybody eventually going to know, because along the way, throughout selling all these products, we really, it did help me refined what I was looking for. And when the cool thing is that when I found it, I knew it. And it's very small and very simple. It's just a little, little bow tie shaped piece of plastic with an elastic band across the top and it's glued together. And then it has a 3m b acker and you stick that onto the back of your smartphone. And it's like the first time you got wheels on a suitcase, you're like, this is so much better. Like, why didn't we do this before? Why doesn't it come with this? And really, if you think about it, why doesn't a phone come with a way to hold it? It's kind of silly. I'm glad they don't because it's created some opportunity for us. But , so we create the LoveHandle is what we called it. When I, when I licensed it from the inventor is called the Sling Grip. And I was like, oh no, we need it a little bit sexier name here. So we're going to go with LoveHandle. We're all carrying our phones. We love our phones. It'll be easy to brand. I've got the trademarks, but over time it has been an amazing journey. And we're currently, we have 40 full-time employees. We make all our products here in Texas and post pandemic's been a great asset for us but we just released a really amazing addition to the product line. We've had it on the market. The total company has been out for eight years, but we just launched the love handle pro. And this really, it was, this was a product of listening to our customers who said, we love the LoveHandle. Its thin it fits in my pocket. I can customize it for my company or my, you know, put my dog's picture or whatever, but wouldn't it be great if it had a kick stand. And so we developed this one with a vertical kickstand that instantly pops out. It works in two directions and it also, you can change the strap out and wash it. And it has internal magnet so that you can take your phone and stick your phone to anything metal or any magnetic Mount. And it will stick super securely. And it took us two years to finish the development and the design of this product. But now that it's out there, the market is really receiving it. Well, our number one competitor is, does over $300 million a year in business. And we're number two in the space. So distant two But , the runway is definitely there because there's now more phones than people on the planet. And so the market size is astronomical and our functional product is really ready. And so I think that it's nothing but up from here. And I'm really excited about where we're headed.

Greg Muzzillo :

I think most of our listeners are aware, but we will . There's no sense in advertising your competition, but what is the advantage of your product? The LoveHandle over that number one competitor today?

Mike Watts :

Well, and essentially everything. It's funny because that product was invented for wrapping earbud chords around it. Wasn't ever actually tended to be a grip at all. And so I , and I knew about them early days. We actually started the same month as a startup , back in 2014. And I didn't even count them as one of my competitors. There was three other products out there that were looking at putting handles on phones in one form or fashion. So I identified them as a competitor, but not the round one. So , they went viral. That's essentially what happened if you'd talk to the owner, who's a friend of mine. We're very friendly with one another and that's been a theme for me in business. I don't care who you are, you're going to like me. And so he just said, we got lucky, you know, they got some in the right people's hands, Brian secrets got one on American idol and then a couple of people on YouTube. And next thing you know, it's , it's a phenomenon, it's the pet rock all over again. It was . Yeah . And they were number two on the fortune 5,000. And you know, they're really just his set records and it was great, but I think that it was more of an indication of the pervasive nature of the smartphone and society. Like we are the smartphone generation we're sitting out here just everywhere we go. Everything we do is defined by the, by the smartphone. And so being able to take that experience and elevate it up for us , you know, day in and day out, you're going to sit down and have lunch and prop your phone up. You can look at it, you're on a zoom call. You can have great steady video or you're out and about. You want to grab a picture with you and your wife. You can, the magnets , you can stick it on a street pole and set the timer and you get your photo. You don't have to ask a stranger to take your picture and it's still thin. And , uh , I don't know , in every way, it's not good at wrapping cords around, but it's really good at being a grip and a kickstand and a mount.

Greg Muzzillo :

Your seems way more functional. I think then that particular product,

Mike Watts :

We really have focused on function and we've had to be patient, you know, it was there, they were burned. So it's really hard to take on a competitor that's white hot, and that's what we kept running into retail side by side. If I was the retailer, I would have kicked me off too and put more of them out there, but while they're hot, but that's what fads do they come. And then they go. But if they did us a lot of favors one, it was, they were very good about protecting intellectual property domestically for themselves. And therefore we sort of get a vicarious effect there, but they also validated the category. So retailers understand that smartphone grips are a thing now and not just a thing, but a really big thing and a pretty sizable part of their profit center. And so they're much more open to talk to us early days. Nobody everybody's like we don't put things on our phone. That's ridiculous for sure.

Greg Muzzillo :

No. There , there really is , uh , uh, like Wendy's gave McDonald's or McDonald's gave Wendy's credibility, right? Like at one point fast food, wasn't a thing. And so, you know, there's always room for competition that helps validate your original concept. Now, was it the , by the way, was it the LoveHandle that was invested in , by D aymond John?

Mike Watts :

Yeah. The, the Daymond John's story I'll cover briefly, please . You know , Daymond, he's always been a mentor to me from afar , before this. And then when, of course, when shark tank come out and I'm sure a lot of your listeners are , shark tank fans, it's I think the greatest TV show that's ever been made. And so watching it, I said, I'm going to go on the show. So my father now who's my business partner and all these ventures, we went and auditioned in Las Vegas at CES, and we made it through to the second round of auditions. And the second round of auditions was , a lot more involved and for whatever reason, we didn't make it through. So then we tried again the second year and we were pretty disappointed, but the second year we did it and got the same exact result. Well, right after that I was monitoring my website for orders. And I saw an order come across from a company named the shark group, which is very interesting to me that , it sounded like shark tank. And I was like, why is shark tank ordering? I realized that this is, and I didn't know why, I didn't know this yet, but this is Daymond John's marketing company based in New York city. And they were ordering my product. And I was like, well, look at that. So there's a phone number on there. So I picked it up and I called and I was like, hey, can I, can I talk to Daymond? And they're like, no, you cannot talk to Daymond. But I'll talk to you. And so I built a relationship with the receptionist there and she's still there today. And , I started sending product to their office and I made some with his latest book title on it. And then I made some with , some of his speaking series stuff that he was doing. And I just, I gifted the office to the moon and back. Next thing you know, about two months later, the phone rings and it's Daymond saying Mike Watts, I've heard so much about you. I had to talk to you. I don't do this, but you know, everybody loves your product here. I love your product. My wife loves your product. Let's see what we can do. Let's see if we can work out a deal. And so that's where it started. And then eventually ended up creating a great partnership with Daymond. And he's been a champion for us , this season twice, actually he showed the love handle pro on there one time a guy pitched another phone accessory and he goes, well, you know, I've already got the love handle thing here. It's got a kickstand too. So I'm out , for that reason I'm out.

Greg Muzzillo :

Awesome. You know, you just said something that is so wise, Mike, and I'm going to repeat it because , you take it for granted in your own DNA. However, everybody listening needs to hear again, what Mike said, and I wrote it down. So I picked up the phone. There's so much wisdom in that Mike. So I picked up the phone and to many people hearing that it might sound obvious, but there are a lot of entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs listening to this right now that may even have those moments, like, should I call , wouldn't that be amazing if this happened, but because of call reluctance or fear of rejection or whatever, they don't pick up the phone and make that call. And I think if you're an aspiring entrepreneur, you need to listen to the wisdom of what Mike just said. So I picked up the phone. The worst thing that could happen is they don't answer. Or the worst thing that can happen is you never meet Daymond, but worrying about the worst thing that could happen probably keeps us from the best thing that could happen many times in our lives.

Mike Watts :

That's so true. I mean, the biggest risk in life is to not take risks in life.

Greg Muzzillo :

The biggest risk is to just not take risks. You've lived your whole life taking risks. All right. So , congratulations on all of your successes, by the way I saw that you, because you are also not only a successful serial entrepreneur, but you're also , enjoy being a speaker keynote speaker more. And I thought I saw that you spoke at a red bull event.

Mike Watts :

Yeah actually that's tomorrow I'm in college station. Yeah . So I'll be speaking of the new red bull , basement program. And it's really cool. They go around and they, and they curate speakers like me to , to share their story to college students, specifically ones that are in the process of starting a business or they're in some sort of entrepreneurial vein and the university. And they had the sort of all night brainstorm sessions where everybody pounds red bull and they bring in mentors and we get in there and try to them out. So I'm gonna , I'll be the keynote speaker. I'm actually going to go ahead and volunteer to go up early tonight. I'm going to start meeting with , startup young startups , in the morning and mentor them and coach them and try to give them some direction. But it's definitely a passion of mine to give back and to share my story because I think the tactical, and I'm so glad that you do this, Greg cause these, these stories, mine and all your other guests, like when people hear an example of how something is done, it makes it real and it totally is real. You just have to do it.

Greg Muzzillo :

All right. Well, it's been a great time spending time with you. I really appreciate your visiting with me and I wish you continued success. Good luck and God Bless.

Speaker 1:

Appreciate it. Thank you so much. Same to you, Greg.

Introducing Mike Watts
First Patent &Tradeshows
Exiting the Company for $6 Million
New Business - LoveHandle
The LoveHandle Competitive Advantage
Daymond John as an Investor