Station Camp Middle School student Maddox Prichard scored a pair of celebrity investors in his invention, The Measuring Shovel, viewers of the reality television show, “Shark Tank” learned on Sunday.
The 13-year-old created the unique measuring tool for a fourth-grade project at Union Elementary STEM and Demonstration School. He went on to win Invention Convention competitions on both the state and national level in 2016 before eventually obtaining a patent for the product last year.
In the spring, the teen attended an open call for the popular television show in which entrepreneurs pitch their product to five investor “sharks” before a national television audience.
Maddox and his family were invited to film a segment for the show in Los Angeles, Calif., in June. However, they didn’t find out until mid-October if and when the segment would actually air. And even then, they couldn’t tell what happened until after it aired on Sunday.
“When we went to the open call, they said around 40,000 people try out and they only film about 150 – and only about half of those make it to broadcast,” said Maddox’s mom Amanda.
On Sunday viewers watched Maddox pitch his tool, a shovel with measuring increments, along with his mother, 11-year-old sister Brenna, and dad Jason.
Maddox asked for a $40,000 investment, offering 15 percent equity in his product. He said he’d use the first $15,000 to $25,000 to make the mold and use the rest to have an initial order of around 2,000 shovels made.
Two of the sharks, Lori Greiner and Kevin O’Leary – offered to negotiate a licensing agreement with a $40,000 investment. The two would each receive 15 percent of the profits.
“The idea is brilliant,” said O’Leary. “If I saw a shovel that didn’t have the measuring on it, and it was the same price as the one beside it, I’d always pick the one with [the measurements].”
Daniel Lubetzky, a “guest shark” who is the founder and CEO of the snack company Kind, LLC, also made an offer.
Lubetzky offered to help Maddox operate and build a business rather than just negotiate a licensing agreement. He offered a $40,000 investment for a 25 percent stake in the company.
Maddox tried to negotiate with O’Leary, known on the show as “Mr. Wonderful,” asking if the two would be willing to take a 25 percent cut instead of 30 percent, or invest $50,000 instead of $40,000. They didn’t budge.
Still, Maddox decided to take the pair’s offer.
In a phone conversation on Monday, Maddox and his mother, who is the chief financial officer for Sumner County Schools, said they have been negotiating the licensing agreement since June.
“The ‘sharks’ are tying to find a company interested in licensing The Measuring Shovel,” said Amanda Prichard. “They’ve got amazing connections, they know the industry, so we’re very hopeful.”
Maddox said he wasn’t as interested in starting a company as he was in licensing his idea to another company and collecting the royalties.
And what does he plan to do with those royalties?
“I’d like to save up for college a little bit, invest some in real estate, and maybe help my sister with some of her inventions,” he said. “She’s got some good ideas too.”
As far as a career path, Maddox said he’s thinking about studying to be a veterinarian.
He’s not done with inventing, however.
“I always keep trying to think of different inventions,” he said.
“Anytime we see a problem, we try to come up with a solution,” his mom added.