The Sharks were circling on ABC’s “Shark Tank.” The bait? Jason and Carson Grill, a Liberty Township father and son team and their handy hardware invention, the Touch Up Cup.
“It had always been a dream of mine to go on ‘Shark Tank’ and pursue one of my ideas,” 15-year-old Carson explains. “I’ve been an avid watcher—our whole family has. It has really put the entrepreneurial spirit into our house.”
Touch Up Cup is a problem-solving paint storage container with a patented design, dreamed up by Carson nearly two years ago when his dad made him paint over some marks on the walls. The leftover paint was clumpy as stored in its original can. Carson was set on finding a better way to preserve paint for touch-up jobs around the house.
“Through a lot of trial and error, we came up with the product that we have today,” says Carson.
“We work on things together,” Jason says. “It just kind of grows. It has been slow – he’s in school and I work—but it has been fun to work together.”
After a couple of recorded pitches and several rounds of auditions, their perseverance paid off when they received an invitation to “Shark Tank,” filming in Las Vegas. An 11-day hotel quarantine preceded their presentation. The hotel time—especially the food—was a highlight. In between rehearsals, they ate like kings, lounged and played games.
"We were in a small hotel room and we couldn’t even leave the room to go to the ice machine,” Jason explains. “When else do you get to spend 11 days with your teenager in a 11x20 room? We had a blast!”
On taping day, they were escorted from their room to the convention center and then onto the set, in front of the socially distanced Sharks.
“When we got out there,” Carson says, “I wasn’t thinking about the cameras or how high-powered the Sharks were.”
“He was not nervous,” Jason says. “I was nervous! I had done the research about how many people watch the show! But I knew Carson was going to do a great job.”
The Grills won the attention of the panel of investors with an animated sales pitch and Carson’s impressive command of the vocabulary of business. Following lively negotiations, they accepted an offer from guest Shark Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS Shoes.
“Obviously, we were hoping to get a deal,” Carson says. “We weren’t expecting multiple offers from Daymond [John] and Blake. That was really exciting, especially when Daymond offered us more than we were asking for. It was definitely a great turnout,” he says.
“Blake even put some money into Carson’s college education fund. That was a really nice surprise!” says proud papa Jason.
“I’m really proud of him,” Jason says of Carson. “It was his goal to be on ‘Shark Tank’ and his goal to have products that are successful. He has really worked hard to get to this point. It’s really starting to take off right now.”
More hard work is ahead for this successful duo, as they continue to develop the product and make connections to promote it. The Touch Up Cup is for sale from their website, on Amazon, and at local hardware and other retail stores.
“We just did a redesign of our agitator and our whole packaging,” Carson says. “We are getting into Walmart locations with an end cap,” he adds, eyebrows raised hopefully.
This young business leader offers his advice for other inventors and entrepreneurs.
“If you have ideas, write them down,” advises Carson. “You never know where it’s going to go.”
You, too, could go swimming with the sharks.
Don’t miss “Good Morning America’s Deals & Steals” airing on March 11, featuring the Touch Up Cup and other Grill products. View their full “Shark Tank” pitch, episode one of Season 12, online. ABC.com, TouchUpCup.com