Broken Arrow entrepreneur pitches idea on TV's 'Shark Tank'
BY RITA SHERROW World Television Editor
Thursday, May 05, 2011
5/05/11 at 5:29 AM
There's only one instance where sharks circling is a good thing, and it's when those "sharks" are the multimillionaire investor types.
The kind Broken Arrow's Johnson Bailey is hoping to reel in on Friday's new episode of "Shark Tank."
Bailey will be making a pitch for a $50,000 investment in trade for 25 percent of his "Original Man Candle" business on the reality show.
Yes, Man Candles for manly men. Not those frou-frou fragrances like lavender and vanilla. We're talking smells a he-man loves to get a whiff of - Bacon, Football, Golf Course, Draft Beer, Poker Room, New Car, Cup O' Joe, Beach Babe, Roadkill (skunk), Fishing Dock, Garage, and that gaseous natural wonder known only to a man as the, pardon the expression, Fart.
On the ABC reality series, entrepreneurs must persuade multimillionaire investors to fund their ideas. If the "sharks" bite and both sides can agree, the "sharks" get an equity portion of the business and a return on their personal monetary investment. If not, the business owner may walk away with nothing but advice from the five "sharks" - real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran, high-tech billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban, technology innovator Robert Herjavec, fashion icon Daymond John and financial expert Kevin O'Leary.
Bailey, a marketing major at Oklahoma State University-Tulsa, came up with the idea for man candles during an entrepreneurship class. The idea, which produced its first prototypes in January 2009, was good enough to earn him OSU's "Student Entrepreneur of the Year" award. Back then, he and his wife, pharmacy technician Summer, were testing fragrances and making candles in their garage.
That was enough to elicit more than a little concern on the part of his in-laws back in early 2009.
"At first, they really thought I was crazy and had lost my mind because I was quitting my job to go sell a pot roast-scented candle, but they came around," said Johnson, 28, who previously worked for a mortgage group.
Johnson said he applied for the show in fall 2009 but wasn't contacted until almost exactly a year later.
Since the episode was taped, the business has grown from him hand-pouring the candles and selling them at Broken Arrow's Rooster Days to having the 8-ounce $12 candles being carried in more than 500 stores.
They're also available on a website - tulsaworld.com/mancandle - and he has new deals in place to handle manufacturing and distribution. That leaves Bailey to do what he does best - create new scents and market them. A fragrance, such as BBQ, can take as long as two years for a chemist to perfect.
He said the economy has hurt the novelty gift industry, and the gift shops that sell his products are having to compete with the big-box stores. But sales are on the rise.
"We're trying to provide as much value as we can to the retailer and consumer and give them a product that makes them laugh and doesn't hurt in the pocket book," said Bailey, whose prime customers are women shopping for their hard-to-buy-for men. "Like I told the sharks, it's all about the 10-minute belly laugh."
He said being on the show was a "wonderful experience."
"Getting to be in front of five people who have taken risks and made fortunes off of their ideas and fortunes," he said in a phone interview Tuesday. "Surrounding yourself with those types of people and getting to hear honest feedback is a good thing. It will give me a lot of publicity and really get my product name out there."
And his advice to other potential "shark" bait?
"You have to be willing to take criticism on national television," he said. "I would recommend it to anyone trying to get a small business going."
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: ABC, channel 8
Original Print Headline: BA man makes big pitch
Rita Sherrow 918-581-8360
Broken Arrow's Johnson Bailey makes a pitch to the "sharks" for his "man candles" in a new episode of "Shark Tank," airing at 7 p.m. Friday on ABC, channel 8. CRAIG SJODIN / ABC
The candles come in scents such as pot roast and fishing dock. Tulsa World file