ABC's 'Shark Tank': Port St. Lucie mom strikes a deal
Before the "Shark Tank" aired Higney showed outtakes from the rehearsal she and her mother, Ellen McAlistee, did to prepare for the show. (Photo: Paul Ivice/Special to TCPalm)
ST. LUCIE WEST - Opening her "Shark Tank" pitch with "Our product sucks; I mean it literally sucks," did not prevent a Port St. Lucie entrepreneur from getting exactly the offer she wanted from exactly the "shark" she preferred.
In truth, the opening line of the pitch Kelley Higney made in June for her product - the Bug Bite Thing resulted in a deal with QVC maven Lori Greiner for $150,000 for 10 percent equity in her company. The pitch, which aired in Sunday night's episode of the ABC program that matches entrepreneurs with investors, also drew the interest of three other sharks on the panel.
Higney also had the rapt attention of 50 relatives, friends and employees who gathered at her company's St. Lucie West offices and warehouse for a watch party Sunday night.
More: ABC's 'Shark Tank' to feature Port St. Lucie mother-daughter founders of Bug Bite Thing
Kelley Higney cutting a shark cake after watching the "Shark Tank" episode in which her company, Bug Bite Thing, got a deal. (Photo: Paul Ivice/ Special to TCPalm)
Greiner, who claims "I can tell instantly whether a product is a hero or a zero," wasted little time offering not only the $150,000 investment but the Golden Ticket she gives to her favorite product of the year.
Two other sharks - Barbara Corcoran and Kevin O'Leary - actually made offers for more money, but O'Leary wanted a 1 percent royalty and Higney said in the excitement of the fast-flying offers, she does not remember hearing Corcoran's bid.
It probably didn't matter. While Higney said she was open to offers from any of the sharks, she thought Greiner's merchandising experience made her the best partner.
Higney, with her mother, Ellen McAllister, donning a mosquito vest, explained in their pitch how she had the idea for a simple product that suctions out the saliva or venom from a bug bite shortly after she moved from California to Port St. Lucie in 2013.
While working for her family's import-export business, A.C. Kerman Inc., Higney found a manufacturer in Denmark who was making the product, but was only selling it industrially.
Higney said the manufacturer immediately liked her plan to market the product - which she dubbed the Bug Bite Thing - to the consumer market in the United States.
She got the product into CVS Pharmacy stores nationwide, and Prep Obsessed, a retail store in Palm Beach Gardens, as well as selling it on Amazon and her website, bugbitething.com.
Higney said she and Greiner are still working out details of their contract, but she has already appeared once on QVC and hopes Greiner will get her product into other major retailers, such as Walmart and Walgreens.
In her pitch, Higney said sales were $500,000 last year.
"It's taken off like a storm" since then, Higney said after the program aired, noting that sales have reached $2.5 million through September.
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