The Entrepreneurial Journey. Knowing is half the battle, but getting there can be even more challenging.
Knowing is half the battle, but getting there can be even more challenging. That’s a mantra that most entrepreneurs live by. Their intuitive sense of direction, desire, passion and the willingness to learn separates them from the average executive. Everyone knows the daunting task, money spent and hurdles needed to jump over in order to patent an idea. With no mentors, teachers or books on how to create patents, Lori Greiner, owner of For Your Ease Only, Inc. and one of the stars of the hit ABC show, “Shark Tank,” just figured it out herself, through trial and error. “It was very exciting to literally take something from a drawing on a piece of paper to a viable product that would sell in retail stores,” Greiner explains.
Greiner realized early on in her career that her ideas for various products were successfully coming out onto the markets – but just not by her. Rather than wasting energy fuming about it, she resolved, “This time I’m just going to do it, and I did it.” She says, “With my next idea, I set out about how to make it, how to patent it, everything in which to take a product from concept to creation and to the market.”
Greiner’s experience was an amazing journey, with a great deal of learning taking place along the way. On creating the product and figuring out its dimensions, she noted, “In essence, it’s like sculpting what would be the perfect product.”
The show has given Greiner the ability to work with an eclectic cast all of whom she likes. When asked about Kevin O’Leary, Greiner replied, “Even though people think he’s “a Meanie”, I do like Kevin O’Leary. He can be very funny and even though he is linear and has a very definite point of view.” She adds, “He sticks to that point of view, but interestingly I find that if I start to say something that makes sense to him, I can see almost see his brain working. I can feel him looking at me and thinking ‘hmm, maybe what she is saying makes sense, maybe this is a good idea and maybe I should be interested in this.’ ”
Born and raised in downtown Chicago, Greiner grew up in a family where her father and grandfather were very entrepreneurial. She was raised to think that you can do anything you really want if you put your mind to it. She says, “I see a lot of their personalities in myself. I’m really not afraid to take risks.”
That’s what really started her off on the path to success, including the ABC show “Shark Tank.” Once her first product was created successfully, “I just kept creating more products and patenting more ideas that eventually made it to retailers and which also led to my own show on QVC,” Greiner noted. For the past 14 years, she has run her own show on the QVC channel, an online shopping network. She has created countless products, holding 115 U.S. and international patents.
After a winning run with her first product, Greiner successfully brought 350 more products to market. “I was lucky enough in the early days to get into JC Penney after a lot of hard work, and I got into the Home Shopping Network for a year before I moved to QVC,” she adds.
“Once you are successful at something, people want more and then you are driven to creating more, so it set my mind to thinking.” She continues, “I have to keep creating to keep feeding the needs of the retailers.”
In fact her forthcoming book will be amazing, because it’s what people have asked her to do, for over a decade. “Everybody wants to know how to do what I did, and my book is going to tell them that.” Greiner chuckles. “It’s going to help people to learn and have the ‘street smarts’ sort of speak – the know-how and the knowledge to take something from nothing to a successful, viable product or a business.” With thousands of people asking her advice, this book will help many people get from A to Z.
One of Greiner’s greatest successes has been the creation of a
great deal of products that make people’s lives better, happier and easier. “On ‘Shark Tank’ I am a role model for young women and men,” she says, adding, “That was something I never expected. It’s so positively overwhelming because people – (even) children and teenagers on the street – always stop me and say, ‘I want to grow up and be like you one day.’ Greiner humbly says, “I never looked at it as being a role model for women and men, but it’s turning out to be that way. I try hard to be a good one.”
On a recent episode, owner Ginelle Mills of CoolWAZOO, who was turned down by the Shark Tank cast because her product wasn’t viable, created a sad moment as the contestant got teary- eyed and cried. But Greiner thought that Mills had the personality required to make something work, along with the passion and drive for the product. “Well, the more I sat back and watched the product – and also remember what you see on television is about 10 minutes long and what we see live can be an hour,” she says, “I thought that the product had merit. I could see people liking it because it was so multi-functional for women and their babies.”
Greiner, being very true to herself, stepped back in and acquired a stake in the company. “The guys will joke and say, ‘oh, if the contestants cry, Lori will get all soft.’ It’s not that. I always make a decision based on what I think is right and what I think will work,” Greiner laughs, “I don’t ever do a deal where I think the product is bad just to help a person – that’s feudal.”
She adds, about her fellow Sharks, “At the end of the day I find them all good people and I enjoy the camaraderie that we have.”
Dedicated to helping charities that assist others in extreme need, Greiner is involved with and donates to many charities including the Salvation Army and the American Red Cross. She also donates to several children’s charities Lori believes her life is blessed and continues to ‘pay it forward’.
I AM A LOT LIKE MY FATHER AND I’M REALLY NOT AFRAID TO TAKE RISKS.”
- LORI GREINER