When Troy Carter agreed to be a guest judge on Shark Tank, he might not have guessed he’d potentially invest in a product he could use himself. On Friday night’s episode, the bespectacled Carter considers investing in Nerdwax, which helps keeps glasses from slipping down the nose. In a preview clip provided to Billboard, Carter makes an offer that’s structured partly as a loan in exchange for equity. Viewers will find out Friday night whether or not entrepreneur Don Hejny accepts.
It turns out Hejny and Carter may have more in common than their eyewear. Carter, who recently launched his own startup incubator, SMASHD Labs, under the auspices of his company Atom Factory, is best known as the one-time manager of Lady Gaga. Atom Factory also represents John Legend and Meghan Trainor.
Hejny is also involved in the music industry. It was his experience as an audio engineer that led him to create Nerdwax. A few years ago, he was working at a Texas concert and observed the musician constantly pushing up her glasses as she performed. He told Mashable he wanted to run onstage and hold her glasses in place.
Hejny also had the same slippage problem when he was working hot summer concerts and festivals. The sweat would make keeping glasses in place a challenge. Although he told his wife almost immediately about his great idea once the lightbulb went off, it took some time to get the right formulation.
Ozy reported during Nerdwax’s 2014 Kickstarter campaign that Hejny’s first thought was surf wax, but he knew right away that would be a no-no to put on the face. He eventually devised a recipe that includes organic, all-natural ingredients, including beeswax and coconut oil.
That Kickstarter campaign was immensely successful, raising $61,000 on a goal of $5,000. Hejny told the Tennessean they have sold 30,000 units worldwide, at a price point of $10 per tube or $20 for three. They sought Shark Tank investment in order to improve their manufacturing process. When Hejny appeared before the investors, he was still making the product out of his home.
Appearing in the Shark Tank was a family affair, as Hejny and his wife presented along with their children. That made the pitch particularly memorable, especially since the Hejny children have been hands-on with the business.
“The kids love to be a part of the business and that’s a big part of our ‘Shark Tank’ [pitch]. The kids got to go on with us, so us doing it as a family has been a really fun experience.”
In the preview clip, it’s revealed that Kevin O’Leary makes a play for Nerdwax, as does Carter. When Carter discussed his Shark Tank experience with Business Insider, he said the actual length of discussions surprised him. What viewers see as a few minutes on television is actually edited down from an hour or more of negotiations.
Although Carter couldn’t reveal whether he’d made any deals on Shark Tank, he told Business Insider that he’d “looked at some things.”
He also said he enjoyed his experience, but might not take on a permanent spot.
“I’ve gained a tremendous amount of respect for the sharks. I don’t know how they do their day jobs and do what they do on ‘Shark Tank.’ I had a great time being a guest but I’m not sure if I would quit my day job for it.”
Carter is the second guest shark to appear so far this season. Ashton Kutcher, best known as an actor but with significant experience as an investor, appeared in the premiere.
Shark Tank airs Friday nights at 9 p.m. on ABC.
[Main image courtesy of Nerdwax]