VC-Backed Curly Hair Tool Brand Richualist Snags “Shark Tank” Deal

Richualist founder Dawn Myers wasn’t initially sure if appearing on “Shark Tank” was the right move for her curly hair tool brand. Unlike the majority of brands on the ABC business competition show, it’s venture-backed, having raised $1 million in funding in 2022 and another $150,000 from pitch competitions, accelerators and incubators. She explains, “Our valuations are different, the way we think about ownership is different.”

Myers put misgivings aside, applied anyway and was accepted, leading to an appearance on an April 5 episode in which she accepted an offer from guest “shark” Emma Grede and “shark” mainstay Mark Cuban of $150,000 for 15% equity and another 5% in advisory shares, indicating a $1 million valuation. Myers, who went onto the show seeking a deal of $150,000 for 10% equity at a $1.5 million valuation, negotiated the pair down from $150,000 for 20%.

As Beauty Independent previously reported, not all “Shark Tank” deals go through once the cameras stop rolling, but Myers confirms that the deal structure agreed to on the program was finalized. She says, “Even though we gave up way more equity than we ever would with investors in the venture space, these guys are so well connected and know their stuff so well that I’m really confident, given our relationship so far, that it’s going to end up paying off.”

Grede and Cuban are helping Ritualist shore up its supply chain and nail down growth marketing strategies. She hopes to tap their retail expertise when the brand is ready for retail distribution. “I’m positive that they’re going to be really supportive there as well,” says Myers.

On ABC business competition program “Shark Tank,” Richualist founder Dawn Myers accepted an offer from guest “shark” Emma Grede and mainstay “shark” Mark Cuban of $150,000 for 15% equity and another 5% in advisory shares. Disney

Richualist launched The Mint, a hair tool that warms hair products to enable them to penetrate deeper into hair strands and assist with detangling and styling, with 100 units in April 2023. To finance the tool, Myers sold her house, liquidated her 401(k) and raised $1 million from venture capital funds, including Black Star Fund, Dow, Techstars, Fempire Fund by Alcone, Next Fab and Revitalize Ventures. Myers owned 72% of her brand at the time of the “Shark Tank” taping in September last year.

Between its launch in April and the “Shark Tank” taping, Richualist generated $23,000 in sales. Currently, The Mint isn’t available, but customers can pre-order it on Richualist’s website. A new batch of tools is slated to ship in September 2024, per the site.

The Mint retails for $400, and it cost $120 per unit to produce the first batch of the tool and will cost $60 for the next, according to information Myers told the sharks. On air, she mentioned possibly lowering The Mint’s price to $200 and focusing on pods that consumers fill up with products and slot into the tool. The pods could be sold on a subscription basis for $6 a piece and $36 a month, and Richualist could partner with large beauty conglomerates like Procter & Gamble and L’Oréal  on them.

Grede and Cuban recommended retaining The Mint’s price as is and concentrating on the tool. Myers plans on following their recommendation. “This is an expensive technology to build, and so we’ve got to really protect our margins,” she says. “When we think about the other tools on the market, they’re not offering the functionality to this underserved market that we are, and when you’re an early adopter of technology, it’s sometimes a little pricey. So, we’ve been really focused on making sure that we’re providing people this customer as much value as we can for their $400.”

Partnering with haircare brands on the pods is still on the table for the future, although it’s not a priority at the moment. “Emma and Mark were both right. When you’re trying to disrupt an industry, you’ve got to focus on the disruption,” says Myers. “So, that’s exactly what we’re doing. We’re focusing on getting the product as tight as possible, but we’re also building up relationships with the right folks in the right places so that when it’s time to fire up those partnerships, we can put pedals to the metal.”

Richualist’s signature $400 hair tool The Mint warms hair products to enable them to penetrate deeper into hair strands and assist with detangling and styling. Disney

Following Myer’s appearance on “Shark Tank,” Richualist saw a several thousand percent uptick in traffic to its site and its sales multiplied 4X. “We’ve made, over the past maybe two months, four times what we made over the life of the product’s existence in pre-sales,” says Myers. The Mint was discounted 25% for a week after the episode’s airing.

“Our product isn’t made for ‘Shark Tank,’” she says. “’Shark Tank’ is medium where low-cost products that are generally applicable do really well. That’s not our product. I wasn’t even expecting as much of an uptick as we’ve seen already, so everything that we see from here on out is really icing on the cake.”

Building on the momentum from “Shark Tank,” Myers is pursuing additional TV appearances to increase exposure for Richualist. “Talking about this online is one thing, but people actually being able to see it in your hands and see how to interact with it and see the results in real time, it’s a completely different monster,” she says. “So, we’re really excited to explore these other mediums outside of print, and we’re really thankful for all of the press traction we’ve been able to get lately.”