RIVERDALE — Thanks to the ABC entrepreneurship reality show Shark Tank, two Top of Utah men and their product have become overnight celebrities and have put their business in fast gear.
The Riverdale company InstaFire has sold the same volume of products so far this year as the company did all last year, according to its founders. InstaFire is an emergency supply company, anchored on a volcanic rock formula that can burn even on water and snow and in heavy winds.
In a Shark Tank episode filmed in June and aired Monday, Feb. 22, Konel S. Banner, CEO, of Riverdale, and Frank Weston, president, of Clinton, negotiated ownership of 30 percent of their business to two business sharks for $300,000.
Sharing that information with retailers so far this year has catapulted their business forward, said Banner. When retailers were informed about the show, they ordered many times the product they had in the past in anticipation of its airing.
“They tell us it brings as much or more exposure as a Super Bowl ad,” Banner said of being on the show.
The business partners already have put the funds they obtained from the deal to good use, Banner said.
Weston is in New Jersey this week learning how to use a new packing machine the two have purchased that will triple the company’s capacity for shipping products. The machine is set to arrive in two weeks.
Banner said the success so far is nothing like what he expects in the near future with the airing of the show.
“Once it airs, they really get started helping us,” he said. “They will really start helping us push our business.”
“It can be very, very beneficial to have this happen,” Weston said.
“It’s good that one will take over the online sales thing (Mark Cuban), the other is going to take over our retail situation (Lori Greiner),” Weston said. “Did we make the right choice? We believe so. Are we excited? Totally.”
InstaFire began seven years ago with a patented volcanic rock, wood chip and wax product being sold in five-gallon buckets.
The company has since developed a small pouch that campers and hikers may take along with them for emergencies.
Two years ago, the company developed a cellulose pouch to be used to start charcoal bricks on fire. ”There’s no stink, no smell, none of that stuff,“ Banner said, noting that the product eliminates spraying the bricks with lighter fluid.
Banner said he feels grateful to have been selected for the show.
He said even if a deal had not come out of the effort, the company still would have gotten exposure.
He said 45,000 companies audition every year and about 120 to 160 are chosen to be on the show.
“If people ever have a chance to audition for the show, I would definitely encourage it,” Banner said. “Even though it’s a scary experience, it’s definitely a way to get your product noticed.”
The local men were featured on episode 19 of the show, which may be viewed at abc.go.com/shows/shark-tank/.
More information about InstaFire is available at instafire.com.