Anyone who runs regularly knows this to be true—nothing sets you back like a running injury. You have to stop training; you have to see your doctor. It’s a major bummer.
There is, however, one exception to the rule. For entrepreneur Doug Storer, a running injury ended up changing the course of his entire life. And, in the process, he may just be able to change your running story, too.
Running Injury Leads to Invention
While in marathon training for the fifth time, Doug Storer went out for a run in the early morning. Unable to see well, he tripped in a pothole and hurt his foot. After finishing the rest of his run in pain, Storer entered his home with a brilliant new idea: sneakers that are equipped with headlights!
While the idea might seem strange, Storer and his wife, Renata, were able to see the broad appeal of this product: not only would lighted sneakers help early morning and late night runners; it could also help anyone who works late or has difficulties with night visions.
Thus, a new company—Night Tech Gear—was born. According to Storer, "Night Tech Gear provides innovative safety products that inspire athletes, adventurers, and workers who choose to boldly take on the night."
With eight months of business under their belts and two distinct products—Night Runner and Night Shift—in development, Doug and Renata made their way onto Shark Tank, a popular ABC television show that gives entrepreneurs the chance to secure funding and partnerships with seasoned investors like Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks.
Here’s what each of the products can offer: Night Runner is a sneaker that has lights to help runners navigate safely in low-light environments. Night Shift shoes are designed for use in the industrial safety market.
As Storer explained, "Night Shift mitigates many of the dangers to workers that are inherent in third shift and low-light operations. Attached to the boots or shoes, these 'headlights' serve as an advanced warning of trip hazards and provide visibility to other vehicles and workers."
In facing the sharks, Doug and Renata asked for $250,000 for a 10 percent stake in their company—and were pleasantly surprised by what happened next.
"We had dreamed about being lucky enough to get even one offer but having four Sharks fighting to be our partner gave us a tremendous amount of confidence that we had an exciting product and could build a successful business," Storer said.
After the Tank
Ultimately, the couple accepted an offer from Robert Herjavec, who gave them the $250K for a 15% stake in the company. Ultimately, the couple walked away from their deal, but for good reason: as Doug explained in an interview with Forbes magazine, “After [the show] aired, we didn’t need the investment anymore and we started to think, why should we give up equity if we don’t need it. Also they offered fewer dollars for the same equity. We came to a mutual decision that the deal wasn’t in our best interest.”
Never fear—even though these inventors ditched their Shark, you can still get your hands on their products. Available in a range of brightness and sizes, their line of rechargeable LED lights can clip onto various pairs of sneakers and boots. For all our early and late runners out there, this little product is certainly worth checking out!