Company: The Original Comfy
Founders: Brian and Michael Speciale
Season: Appeared on season 9 in the week 9 episode
The Original Comfy is a blanket-sweatshirt hybrid. The cozy, one-size-fits-all combination is available in four colors (blue, gray, pink and black) and costs $39.99.
The reversible “Comfy” features an oversized hood, extra wide arms, one big pocket and an oversized design, according to their website. “The Comfy has been designed to be the most comfortable thing you’ll ever wear, whether you’re at home or on the go!”
When the brothers originally appeared on “Shark Tank,” they came in asking for $50,000 for 20 percent equity. The sharks loved the Comfy, but had their concerns. Lori Greiner thought it was too similar to the Snuggie, while Kevin O’Leary worried about customer acquisition costs. Ultimately, the duo received two offers—one from Robert Herjavec at $50,000 for 50 percent and the other from Barbara Corcoran at $50,000 for 30 percent. They countered Corcoran at 25 percent, which she declined, but they eventually accepted her original deal.
Brian Speciale spoke with Business 2 Community about The Original Comfy’s experience on the show and what their next steps are. Take a look at the Q&A below:
Q&A with The Original Comfy’s Co-Founder Brian Speciale
What was your strategy for navigating “Shark Tank”?
Our strategy for navigating the Tank was simple: Be memorable! We knew we had a great product, but that’s only a small part of the battle. You have to stand out. For us, that meant creating a Christmas carol for the Comfy and singing it on national TV! We knew our singing would be horrible, but we also knew that would be a big part of the charm. Our singing certainly calmed our nerves, got some laughs and really engaged the sharks for the rest of the pitch.
How has The Original Comfy changed since the episode was first recorded? Since it aired?
It’s been seven months since we aired and we have finally caught up on inventory for the moment. We sold out within 24 hours of our airing—and then we went viral on social media about a month later. Suddenly, we had orders from all around the world (we’ve shipped to 70+ countries) from folks buying Comfies and knowing they wouldn’t get them for several months. It’s just been an insane ride, and even though it’s now summer, the orders continue to pour in. We were confident before we walked into the Tank that we could be one of the most successful products in “Shark Tank” history and we feel even stronger about that today.
Is there anything you would have changed about your time spent in the tank, including your pitch and valuation?
No way. We walked in with no sales and an idea that was barely six months old. We were lucky they let us on the show, period! But I think the producers knew we had a great product…and, of course, there’s the singing thing. We didn’t even have sales numbers to base a valuation on. It was pretty much, ‘Yeah, $50k for 20 percent sounds fair!’ So that’s what we went with. Even though we ended up giving up 30 percent of the business, it was well worth it. There is nothing like having the power of a shark behind your company. Our goal was to get a deal, and we got it.
After securing the deal, our focus immediately shifted to proving Barbara right—and all the other sharks wrong. It’s all part of the self-motivation you have to find as an entrepreneur. We also think that when all is said and done, the Comfy will go down as one of Barbara’s best investments—and the other sharks’ biggest missed opportunity. Just because they’re sharks doesn’t mean they know everything. If you believe in your product, fight for it and don’t let anyone get in your way.
What are The Original Comfy’s next steps?
The Comfy has big things ahead. We will be on QVC in July. Bed Bath & Beyond is one of many retailers who will be carrying us in the fall. We’re about to be up on Amazon all around the world. And rumor has it we might even get a “Shark Tank” update at some point, too. Fingers crossed on that!
I think the most important thing we’ve done is continued to put the customer first. The Comfy makes people happy and we never want to stop delighting them. We’re always tweaking the fabric and playing with the dimensions—it’s all about making the best possible product for the customer. There’s another lesson in there, too. Don’t wait until your product or idea is perfect before taking action. There’s no shame in it always being a work in progress. Chasing perfection can lead to paralysis-by-analysis, and you’ll never get anything done that way. If we had waited until the Comfy was “perfect,” today we would still be waiting to even apply for “Shark Tank.” You simply have to take action. Always consider your business a work in progress and learn as you go. Read and react. That’s what entrepreneurship is all about.
What advice would you give to people who want to start their own business or to entrepreneurs who want to make it on “Shark Tank”?
The best advice we could give anyone thinking about starting a business or trying out for “Shark Tank”? GO FOR IT. Why not you? I mean, entrepreneurship is a gamble, but you have to bet big to win big. If you have an idea, go for it—your only regret will be if you do nothing. Take action. Take a chance. Sing a song. Be compelling. Be memorable. And always ask yourself what our mother tells us to ask ourselves to this very day: ‘Why not me?’
Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length