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July 31, 2023
John Rizvi, Esq.

How Shark Tank's Kevin Harrington Invented The Infomercial | Meet The Self-Made, Successful Inventor

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Okay, guys, good afternoon. I'm John Rizvi. I'm the patent Professor. Welcome to the Virtual Summit. It's a three day summit with 10 successful inventors. And in addition to 10 successful inventors what could be better than 10 successful inventors with selling products, but having the inventor of a new way to sell products, the inventor of the infomercial Kevin Harrington. He's our keynote guest today. And Kevin, I'd love to welcome you. Let's play a quick video. So to give our audience an introduction to who you are, and I'll stop sharing my screen now. Thank you, Jamie, why don't you start that?

Meet Kevin Perry, with over 500 products launched at generating over $5 billion in product sales in over 100 countries. Kevin Harrington is the inventor of the infomercial As Seen On TV pioneer and original shark on the Emmy award winning TV show Shark Tank Kevin creates massive brands by combining great products with superstar talent like Kim Kardashian, 50 cent Kathy and Paris Hilton, Kris Jenner CeeLo. Green George Foreman, Montel Williams, Jacqueline lane, bow rider, Hulk Hogan, Billy Mays, all Abdul and Tony Little by brand now is worth over $3 billion.

So my advice to everybody if you even have an idea, you'd want to go to Kevin.

Kevin has been featured on 2020 CNN Fox Business Bloomberg, Jim Cramer is the street MTV Good Morning America. The CBS Morning News Today Show the view and the Daily Double on Jeopardy. Now the last row back to the Shark Tank. I'm Kevin Harrington, a renowned speaker Kevin has appeared on stage for organizations like at&t, Microsoft, United States Postal Service Humana three in Auburn University, Harvard and MIT. Kevin has authored several books including act now how I turned ideas into million dollar products and the best seller how to become a key person of influence.

Kevin is a pioneer in the direct response industry and has risen to nearly iconic status over the

years, Kevin helped to found Er The Entrepreneurs Organization and era the electronic retailing Association receiving their lifetime achievement award and entrepreneur for over 40 years, Kevin has built 20 businesses to over $100 million each. That's why he's the original shark from Shark Tank, a billion dollar man, Kevin Harrington, let's give Kevin a warm welcome.

John, great to be here today. And I want to just start by saying that there's no more fun place for me in my heart than the the world of inventors and I am an entrepreneur for 40 years. And I am not an inventor, I literally have all the products that I've launched that have done many sales, billions of dollars. None of them were my inventions. I partner with people that have the inventions. Okay, so so let's just get it straight right from the beginning. I'm here looking for opportunities for products for inventions for deals. And and I say I'm here, I'm here to educate. I'm here to teach a little to talk a little to share some stories. But at the end of the day, I know inventors, typically are all about how do I get distribution? How do I get somebody to help? How do I get somebody to invest? Who can I license this to. And so consider me to be a potential Dream Team member part of your team to help you execute some of the things we just talked about. So on that note, John, thanks for having me. And I'm gonna flip it back to you. And oh, we're going to do some q&a here today. So let's have some fun.

Sure. Well, one of the things it's funny on on social media, and because I know so much of your background, and we go back a few years, I just laughed when I read this comment, and it was what am I going to get from hearing somebody that grew up with wealth and privilege? And and I just think it's if you can talk a little bit about your background, and I know that the driveway paving days and how you got your start, just tell us a little bit about yourself? Because I know that that's a myth. That's not there's no reality.

I mean, look, if somebody is assuming that because I've done well, that they're making the wrong assumption. I'm one of six kids. My dad was a bartender. And when it got to me, the fourth child of six, he came to me and I was getting into high school and he's like, look, you know, your, your older sisters, I had to take care of them, because they didn't have a means of I'm making money but you You're, you're a young boy. And I'm going to, I've got some ideas for you. So I said, Well, what is this? Well, he's been a bartender all his life. He said, I've saved up enough money to open up my own bar. And he opened up Harrington's Irish Pub when I was 11 years old. I was working a 40 hour week at 11 years old at $1 an hour. And this was back. While give you the exact year, it was 1967 when I started working inside my dad's restaurants, and so I wasn't just washing dishes and barbacking and serving food and stuff. He would bring me into the closing at the end of the day into his office and show me the receipts and where the money was coming from and what the expenses were. And the profits on the liquor way more than the food and the food costs were high because there was spoiled foods that they that weren't selling fast enough that they had to throw away. And so at 11 years old, I got an education in the world of restaurants, okay, enough to know that I never wanted to be a restaurant tour. Okay, because I saw too many bad sides of the business too. Well, when I when finally when I hit 15 My dad said it's time to start a business. He mentored me, I started a driveway sealing business, knocking on doors, and people would close the door slam the door in my face. And and as they're doing that, it's it Yes, no problem. I understand you're in the middle of dinner. You know what, that crack out there that you know is in your driveway when that water freezes in the winter and it triples the size of it. You know, I can come back after dinner and talk to you about how you can prevent that from happening. And oh, well, wait a minute. Yeah. Maybe. Let me tell my wife. I'll be back and let me tell me about that right now. Okay, so I started selling and then I was in then I when I got to college, I couldn't make enough money. Just doing a few months a year of ceiling driveway. So I started a heating and air conditioning company. And now I was on a roll. And I had 25 employees. We're doing a $5 million business as a sophomore in college, sold that business to one of my employees. And then I started a business brokerage company. And there was a reason why I wanted to sell businesses. I dropped out of college my sophomore year. I said I want a college education on entrepreneurship. No better way than to have the books and records of hundreds of companies. And because if you're selling the business as a business broker, flower shops delicatessens, restaurants, laundromats, you name it, manufacturing companies, I was selling hundreds and then 1000s of businesses, I had the books and records, the percentages, the food costs, the leases, the employee cost of any kind of business you can think of, and I'd see the trends that see businesses grow, I'd see them fail. I started partnering, venturing investing in businesses when I was a young man, and this is I was in my 20s One day, I'm going to trade shows because if we're selling flower shops are going to sell gotta go to the flower shelf. I'm selling restaurants at the restaurant shows. So here I was to the Home and Garden Show in Philadelphia, and I had just ordered cable TV. And so this is where the story gets great. I the first package of cable, this is the early 80s like 82 I got 30 channels, HBO movies, great love it. MTV Music, love it. ESPN Sports love it, I get to channel 30 There's nothing on just these colored bars were on the screen. I called the cable company and I said I'm getting 29 of the 30 channels. I'm paying for 30 What's happening to channel 30. And they said, Oh, channel 30 is a new channel. It's called Discovery Channel. They don't have a budget for 24 hours. They only program 18 hours a day. So you're gonna get 18 hours of discovery and you're gonna get six hours of dead air. And I said, Wow, I said dead air. I said and I'm paying for that. Yes. Okay, well, guess what? I might have something to put on that dead air. And here I was at the Philadelphia Home Show. This guy's cutting through a Coca Cola can and cutting through a hammer through a muffler through a pair of sneakers. It's called the Ginsu knife. He says, It's Arnold Morris. And I'm watching this pitch me included with 15 other people bought the Ginsu knife package, I thought that would give me an opportunity to talk to this guy or no, but before I knew it, he grabbed my money, and then he's pitching the same words come out of his mouth, and then that's when it hit me. He got on break. I said, Arnold, I got a great idea for you. I said, Are you familiar with Discovery Channel? He says, What's Discovery Channel? No, I'm not. I don't watch TV. I'm here. I do this 40 weeks a year, and I'm here in Philadelphia for eight days. I go to the Iowa State Fair for 10 days. What is discovery? I said, I want to film your pitch. I'm gonna take it to discovery and they're gonna put it on the air and I want to be partners with you and let's make some money together. And by the way, if this works, you may never have to travel again. Another day. Do Do these pitching fast that you're doing? And he said, You shook my hand. I'm all in. We went and filmed that commercial. And we shot this thing for 1000s of dollars, not 10,000 1000s of dollars. And trust me when I tell you this changed my life, hundreds of millions of dollars later, the Ginsu became one of the biggest ones out there. I didn't invent it, somebody else invented it existed before me, but I helped market this and take it all around the world. And so the Arnold then said, By the way, there was other guys at that Philadelphia Home Show, do you want to meet him? I said, who he says Billy Mays, and others, Wally Nash, Andy Mason, and he said, let me bring them all. So then we started, this was the birth of the modern day infomercial are no more is Billy Mays, jacquelene, George Foreman, Tony Little, all of the above. And this was the birth, we went public on the New York Stock Exchange stock went from $1 A share to $20 a share, we had 25 million shares, I created a $550 million enterprise. And so you know, coming from a dishwasher at 11 years old, from a bartender's son, to paying my own way through high school paying my own way through college. Until I quit, and building a business. I started from zero and build something very substantial. That's my story, John, and I don't want to take up any more time, I'm gonna flip it back to you.

Yeah, no. And one of the things I know that's been very important to you is mentoring. I mean, having mentors and also mentoring others. I'm a big fan of your latest book, it just, I think came out September 22. Both of us share, both of our wives birthdays are on September 26. So I know that from when, when I first Well, we've known each other for years, but I want to share a story from when I first met you, because you really were a mentor to me, I was writing a book on thinking Grow Rich for inventors. And I knew that you were a huge fan of Napoleon Hill and thinking grow rich. And I asked you for feedback. And I was expecting maybe an email back or a phone call. But you invited me to your place to your house and spent part of the afternoon like giving me feedback, you wrote the foreword for that book. It's a funny, funny story I'm going to share and you know, this is coming, a picture taken by your executive assistant that day. And I didn't know what was in it. So I shared it immediately on social media to my friends and family. You have a picture right there, right? Unfortunately, right behind my head. And there I am driving on the way back, that's a painting on your wall. And it was like great picture with 10. But could you have photoshopped out the the painting. So with this out, because talk a little bit about mentor to millions, and about what mentorship has meant for you, because you've been you've been a tremendous help to me and so many others that I know of?

Thank you, John, appreciate that, by the way, get rid of that picture. It was one I bought many, many years ago in Philadelphia for you know, for one of the new rooms, we were adding on to my old house. But anyway, it was great meeting you in person. And mentoring has been a passion for me because I mentioned my father was my first mentor. Or if I didn't say it, he was and Charlie mentored me to learn the the operational side of the restaurant business than to start my own business, and many future things that he did for me. But I also had Zig Ziglar, as a mentor that taught me how to sell and the whole concept of But wait, there's more came about because Zig Ziglar taught me about value stacking. And that people if the price is here, and the value is below the price, you're not going to make the sale, you have to value stack and create more value so that once the value is greater than the price, you're going to make the sale, hopefully, right? And so the concept is if your value is here, but wait, there's more value coming here and here and here. And the price is here. It makes it an easier sale and that's you know, so mentoring has been good. Richard Branson, mentored me and by the way, Zig Ziglar Richard Branson, these were these were situations that didn't involve Shark Tank. Oh, Kevin was on Shark Tank or whatever. I mean, I was never you know, when I met the whole Ziggler umbrella and all of that. That Shark Tank didn't even exist. This was, you know, probably 25 years before shark tank so I was able to get sick As a mentor, so yes, this is what we're kind of talking about here today, John, I mentor lots of people, I mentor inventors, I partner. Also along the way, sometimes sometimes they just want to give advice and tell you, you know where to go how to do it. But sometimes I do actually get involved. And that

just reminded me your book, God, Put a Shark in Your Tank. And sometimes mentoring leads to opportunities for for both people that might not have existed. I mean, it was an honor to be asked to write the chapter on patents in that book. Tell me a little bit about what your feelings are on, on patents behind some of the products and how the importance of that maybe even from an investor standpoint,

so So one of the very first projects that I got involved with way back back in the early 80s, was a product called the FoodSaver. Vacuum food sealer. Now, I'll never forget, this guy came in my office, and he set this thing down. And without saying a word, he crushed a Coca Cola can right in front of me. And you're familiar with that product, John, the food safe, dealer, right? So I'm like, Oh, my God, what is this a Coca Cola candy Crusher, being you know, kind of comical, and he's an all know, he says, I did this to show you the power of this machine, this machine will shrink wrap your leftovers, you shrink wrap, put them in the freezer last for six years. And I said, What's the essence of this deal? He said, The essence of this product is the patent that we have on the bags. He says nobody else can have the same bags we have, which allow the air to come out in a certain way such that it can vacuum seal in a commercial quality way. And I said How long do you have for those patents? Still, they said another 15 years. And so give or take, I'm trying to remember exactly but a long time back then, right. So we did that project, company after company wanted to knock us off. And we prevented that from happening, because we had a patent on those bags. Now somebody else could have a sealer. But it couldn't vacuum seal the way ours did, because it couldn't get the air out because of our patent. So it was never as you know, you could never crush a Coca Cola can with somebody else's product because it didn't have the power and the force due to the patent we had. I believe if you have a patent, you can enforce it. You can protect it. And without mentioning any names. There's some people in the industry. There's a lawsuit that was very famous that somebody got sued, because they knocked somebody off or supposedly did the lawsuit went on. And it went for years into a jury trial. And yes, they got they got in trouble. They lost. It was a $45 million judgment against this gentleman, because he violated patents. So it you know, do you think he wants to go violate more patents now, hopefully, he's learned his lesson, you need to pay attention to the legal processes. I only do I've never crossed the line. We've never had any issues with patent holders. We'd love to support them, mentor them, grow them, finance them, et cetera. And, and patent is amazing if you can get it.

Okay. And part of one of the things I want to talk about before we get to questions is Is finding underutilized assets. And it seems to be something that that you seem to be really good at that people may not realize, for example, the midnight hours on a television station that were dead, to realize that there's incredible value there and even your work with Zig Ziglar in uncovering a lot of the gems that he has in the past. So talk a little bit about that. I mean was maybe your your experience buying and selling businesses has helped kind of find that value that owners don't see.

So like you said finding hidden assets. It to me the first thing that I found that was a hidden asset was unused, unsold TV time, and dead airtime. Right. I got six hours after we did this discovery deal I went to I did this in the local cable system in Cincinnati, Ohio to start. Then I went to the National Discovery Channel and said I want all six hours on an exclusive contract for multi year arrangement, which we did. And so I was doing 10s of millions of dollars on just discovery and I went to lifetime then I went to Nashville. Then I went to Bravo then I went to 100 cable networks. Then I went to cable networks and satellite networks in Europe in Latin America, all around the world. Middle East opened in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, London, San Paolo, Brazil, Tokyo, with media deals all around the world buying up unsold and anew used airtime. So that was the beginning of that. I will say, you know, let's talk about Zig Ziglar. When Zig passed away, I talked to his son Tom and Thompson. Zig was an amazing guy helped me Tom. I said, Well, what are you doing with all those assets? And he said, Oh, well, he wrote 35 books, and he's got 1000s of hours of videos. And I said, and I know, zig was never a social media guy. But didn't people leave tributes to him when he passed away? Oh, yeah, we set up a Facebook page. I'm like, really? And what happened? 5 million people are on his Facebook page for a deceased Zig Ziglar. Well, hey, I think there's a hidden asset there. 5 million people following Zig Ziglar Zig can't communicate with them. But we are now because I have a venture with the family to utilize the unsold assets or the unused assets books and tapes and videos and and and social media assets. So so this is what I look for. I look for inventors that have an invention that's not developed in the marketplace. We go to QVC we go to Hsn. We do infomercials, we take it to retail. We take it global. And by the way, one more unsold asset. How much do you think if you wanted to do a radio show in your market? I live in Tampa, Florida. It's a 3 million person population Tampa, St. Pete Clearwater. Okay, if I wanted to do a 30 minute by 30 minutes of radio time, Saturday morning at 10am. What do you think that would cost? And by the way, the reason I'm saying this is because it's unsold that every week these am stations have all this unsold time on Saturday and Sunday morning. And I don't know if you have a guess of what, 30 minutes on a powerful radio station hitting 3 million plus people for 34 minutes with cost. I've had people say all 10s of 1000s of dollars. 10,000 5000. No. $417 Okay, so I'm doing radio infomercials. Also, right. And I'm doing TV infomercial, we're doing digital, we're doing Facebook, we're doing Instagram, we're doing influencers. So it's it's a new world, there's been some shifts in the marketplace, and you need to be able to move and shake with those changes.

Yeah, well, I would, I was would have been one of those that said, 510 $1,000. I mean, there's no like campus a huge market. Like who would think you know, $400? Like, That's not? That's nothing. Yeah. Thank you. One thing, speaking of you know, of course, radio, and you're kind of a it seems like a pioneer in every new platform. I mean, you a lot of people might see you as it is a TV guy because of the the jinzhou knife and some of your other projects, but then you've embraced radio and certainly social media as well. Do you want to talk about the as seen on TV? Launch and some of those products?

Yeah. So, you know, as I was building my businesses and doing all these infomercials, I met a gentleman who very smart guy, Dan Fasano. Dan had tied up the asset as seen on I mean, nobody, you know, had been utilizing it prior to Dan. And here is now this amazing asset. Well, God bless dan. He passed away. And we were had been in the middle of discussions, he and his wife and I conclude that his wife and I rather concluded those discussions after he passed, and I acquired at CNN And then we build it into an amazing asset 10s of millions of dollars in sales, and millions of unique visitors a month. I mean, I own so many TV Inc, I see the We were you know, we were putting out north of 50 products a year, infomercial spots, everything you can talk about So yes, we were you know, we were doing all of the crazy stuff that you see out there. You know, like I mentioned the Tony littles in the jack lanes in the George Foreman's, but also 50 cent launch some headphones did 10s of millions of dollars and QVC then Kim Kardashian she had a product that she wanted to do she she before she became the Kim Kardashian she was a closet organizer, okay, she organized Paris Hilton's closet so we had some closet wrinkle removing products that she got involved with Believe it or not, so I mean and then we did Paris Hilton's lip remove lip plumper and on and on and on Joan Collins skincare and, and and an acne with with Pat Boone. And I mean you name it celebrities galore across the board. So so you know and We sell a ton of products on HSN and QVC. Also, so the world is out there, there's been again, I mentioned a little bit of a pivot, because TV viewership is dropping a little bit where the eyeballs go there on Facebook, and digital, and YouTube and Instagram, etc. So you got to go with the flow. And that's what we're doing now.

So and that's how you're you are pivoting your existing companies and brands to social media as well. To that goes, also do you find? What one of the things that that we have a lot of interest from inventors is the they're interested in the early struggles? Because it seems like after you have the funds for investing, it becomes easier to raising capital isn't as much of a difficulty. How what advice do you have for inventors that are still early in the process of developing their product to help them get the funds? They need?

A couple great things? And it's a good question, because this boils down to really kind of where the rubber meets the road when when you're an inventor. Number one, I always like to see when I get pitched by an inventor, if it's possible, a working prototype is always an advantage. So it's when I'm looking at drawings and ideas. It makes me feel like we're very early stage, maybe I'm not ready, because in the early days, I used to invest in early stage. Now I wait till a later stage. And, and so I need about five minutes. Okay. Sorry, guys. So I met, I forgot to tell everybody, I'm at an event. And we've got hundreds of folks between our live in person get together in the Westin Hotel in Sarasota right now. And we got another 100 Plus, virtually coming in from all around the world. But so I'm good to go for a few more minutes. But I gotta gotta gotta do what I got to do, John. So thank you for having me, though today.

We appreciate I know your schedule was busy, I appreciate you giving this this time

bet. So the money wise, get a prototype, because once I see the prototype, now I can see it kind of in action, right. But in friends and family is a one place to start. But a lot of people don't like to do that. So So I say, look for partners, you can look for partners in a lot of places, sharks, like me invest, but also people that are in the business, there's production companies, media companies, even some of the factories that will invest in the tooling for you, if you talk the right way to a manufacturer, they may invest in the tooling. And in you got to have projections and a business plan and show them that if if, like for example, if I become a partner in a venture, and I can talk to the factory and say we're projecting a 5 million pieces to be sold, then they want to get involved, hey, yeah, that 30 grand for the tooling, I'm gonna contribute that I'll even make the first 1000 pieces for you. And then there's crowdfunding sites that, you know, you can use the Kickstarter, but you can also use the Indiegogo, there's also one called And that's an equity crowdfunding site. And I'm a partner in that venture. And we've we've raised 175, we've done raise money for 175 companies, between a half a million and a million dollars each. So you know, so I am you know, I do dinners at places to invite investors. We do webinars for investors, that you know, there's there's all kinds of ways there's about eight or 10 different ways you can you can utilize the the amazing ways to raise capital for your product, your invention, but you also a couple elements you need, you need a good business plan. And you need a dream team because investors I say some investors say they bet on the jockey. Yes, I bet on the jockey, but only if he's got a dream team to surround himself with because one of my worst investments ever was a I got excited about the jockey gave her a half a million dollars on Shark Tank for half of her company. And six months later, because she didn't have a dream team of finance and operations people the money was gone and out of business, and I lost all my money. So I want a good jockey and a dream team and a great business plan and a digital marketing specialist also.

Terrific. Kevin, I'm gonna let you go. I know you've you've got a lot on your plate. I can't thank you enough for for joining today. For all the viewers here, Jenny, if you can post the inventors mastermind, we haven't been able to get to all the questions, but post your questions there. I'll try to address what I can. And of course, good luck with the rest of your workshop today, Kevin?

John, it's great seeing you again. And like I said As far as my recommendations go, John is is performing amazing work. I invited him into my home, we've now had become friends and partners and doing ventures like this like we're doing today. And I'm excited about the opportunity and for anyone that's out there that would like to get to me get to John first and he'll bring it to me I'm sure because that's what it's all about is we're looking for some some of the next big project so thank you so much. Absolutely. Say goodbye right now. Take care, guys. Take care

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