Rener Gracie Tells The Jiu-Jitsu Times About His “Shark Tank” Experience

This past Sunday, Rener Gracie confronted the Sharks on the entrepreneur hit show Shark Tank on ABC, walking away with a deal worth $500,000 with QVC stalwart Lori Greiner for 10 percent of his apparel company Quikflip, with half of it being available as a line of credit. He originally went in seeking a deal of $500,000 for 5 percent, electing to negotiate no further than 10 percent as some sharks threw out 15 percent offers. The episode was filmed in September 2018 in Los Angeles and aired this past weekend.

Quikflip is an apparel brand started by Rener a couple of years back that utilizes patented technology to convert regular hoodies into functional backpacks, attempting to revolutionize the convertible outerwear market.

We caught up with Rener after the premiere of the episode to shed light on his Shark Tank experience, product line, and company’s progress since the filming.

He first discusses the nuanced differences between what was actually filmed and what was shown on TV.

People have to know that I was in the Shark Tank for 45 minutes and they edited it down to eight minutes. I was in there and I knew what I said, I knew what they said, but you have no idea as the entrepreneur how they’re going to edit it eight months after they film it. I was delighted to see that the energy and the integrity of the room was preserved. The nature of our interaction is what you saw on TV. There were a lot more details, a lot more story-telling. I went in there, I was able to get my pitch across and I just kept talking, kept pitching, kept pushing because I knew I wouldn’t have a second chance. I felt like I was effective at conveying the problem that our product solves as well as the benefits of our solution to the world. That’s the best part about being on Shark Tank, that the world gets to see your innovation, and they’re the ultimate judge.

He opened up about his emotions and mindset going into the tank as well as the value of the input provided by the sharks.

I had prepared so much and believed so much in the product that I was nervous for the Sharks, not for myself. Do you understand? I knew what I was bringing, I knew that every single person I had shared my invention with up until that point was excited by it. I had many opportunities to get investors even before Shark Tank because people were so excited about getting involved. Going into the tank I’m thinking, “Man, this is the deal. This is THEIR opportunity as much as it is mine.” I was excited to get in there and do this. I was so excited to be invited to the Shark Tank. I was so excited that when I’m there the day of, I’m nervous, but I’m excited because the world is going to get a chance to see it, the sharks are going to have a chance to weigh in on it, and I couldn’t wait.

It’s almost like how my grandfather would fight to demonstrate what he believed in. He was always curious about how he would lose. That was one of his main objectives in fighting and in testing himself at a high level, is he was curious about what would work against him and what would be necessary to defeat him. It was his curiosity about the flaws in what he brought to the table that continued to push him to compete at a high level and fight the fights that he fought on top of believing in jiu-jitsu the way that he did and wanting to demonstrate its efficacy.

For me, it was very similar. I was in there curious to see how are these sharks going to defeat me, defeat this product, defeat what I bring to the table, defeat the validity of the problem I have solved. And they didn’t. I was successful. I got three offers out of five, and I got a deal. My assumption that my product was novel and innovative and exciting enough to invest in was right on the highest level. That was the most rewarding part about the entire experience. I’m very excited because one of the biggest challenges we’ve had up until this point has been the education of the consumer. A lot of people simply don’t know it exists, they don’t know how it works, so to have the sharks comment on the quality of the garment as well as the ease of use and to see them use it easily and effectively and to have fun doing it was probably one of the most important things. Them going hands-on and giving their stamp of approval is worth its weight in gold.

Rener continued by discussing how the interactions in the tank played out, as well as his immediate reaction walking out having secured a deal with Lori.

Lori and Robert [Herjavec] were the two most intrigued by the ‘Renergy.’ From the get-go you can tell right away that they were smiling the whole time, they were right there with me, they were laughing. Daymond [John] and Mark [Cuban] not so much. Kevin [O’Leary] doesn’t have any emotions, really. Absolutely Lori was by far the most inquisitive, asking questions about the family, jiu-jitsu, the invention, many of which didn’t get aired to their full extent. She was very supportive in the tank, and I told her after since we’ve spoken obviously many times just how appreciative I was of her being so curious about everything but the numbers, with regards to the invention and my backstory, the product, and the company. It was her support and eagerness to learn about the company and the product that allowed me to speak and pitch so much. While everyone else was asking about numbers, primarily Kevin, Lori kept pulling us back to the story, and they didn’t show a lot of that. Lori was absolutely very much the one leading the way in terms of keeping the discussion on me and on Quikflip that allowed me to sell as much as I did and get the word across as effectively as I think I did in there. I was very grateful for that and it made perfect sense in the end. She wasn’t the shark I was expecting, I didn’t expect Lori to be the first choice. Everyone thought Daymond obviously for his retail and apparel experience or Mark because of his sports background and connections but it makes perfect sense. It’s a very demonstrable product. It’s a very much “show” product. As a result, Lori is very much in the industry of demonstrating and direct sales, live television and infomercials, selling things of that nature. Even though it wasn’t expected it makes perfect sense after the fact. It was one of those things where once it was done and I called my wife and I said “Hey, so Lori made me an offer and we did a deal,” she said, “oh my God, I love Lori! This is perfect!” She got it right away, but I was still a little shaken up from the whole experience. There was so much happening and it’s so fast, it all went down so intense, that I didn’t know if it was good or bad until a few hours after the fact. And then I was like “oh yeah, this is perfect because Lori is very much in that realm of demonstration and if we can let the Renergy loose on QVC, forget about it.”

Since the episode was filmed, Quikflip continues to march through standard business logistical hurdles.

In the time since the filming, we have been granted a notice of allowance on our first patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office which is a huge deal. That’s very exciting. That grants us the protection against infringers for the unique design of the Quikflip apparel garments and the conversion technology. In terms of going forward, there are licensing opportunities, there’s promotional products, there’s customization, wholesale companies love ordering these and putting their brands all over them.

He further discussed opportunities for other jiu-jitsu schools to profit and benefit from the PR boost provided by Shark Tank.

Any martial arts schools, obviously any jiu-jitsu schools that want to customize Quikflip for their schools; 12, 24, 48, 60, 120, whatever number of units you want to get down with, we can customize it for you and then send it out for you and your students. It’s something so special because when you’re not wearing the hoodie, instead of tying it around your waist you’re wearing the backpack that has your logo on it as well. You get the branding whether you’re wearing the hoodie or not. Your school is being represented versus a regular hoodie where the moment it comes off it’s in a backpack or it’s tied around someone’s waist. There’s no branding value. You want to sell your students stuff that they’re representing your brand whether they’re wearing it or not because your brand is always a billboard on someone’s back as they’re walking around where even in broad daylight, perfect California sun, they’re still representing your school. That’s an ideal equation.

Wholesale information for school owners can be found here.


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