We know Lori Greiner as the “warm blooded” female shark on television’s Shark Tank. What you may not know is that Greiner has invented more than 600 products and helps aspiring entrepreneurs launch theirs. She also holds 120 U.S. and foreign patents. If you look across the board at the Shark Tank lenders, they are all self-made millionaires and billionaires (Mark Cuban). Greiner is no exception. For her, it all started with earrings. One would imagine, as a woman, she probably understands the market for such jewelry, and decided to put a novel twist on how to store them. Greiner created and patented a plastic earring organizer with sliding rods that could neatly store 100 pairs of earrings. She borrowed $5,000 to file her first patent. When the lawyer spoke only to her husband who sat off to the side as an observer, Lori demanded a female attorney. There you go ladies. This was 1997, way before the #me too movement. Using borrowed money, she created a prototype of the product which was picked up by J. C. Penney before the holiday season. She took out a $300,000 loan and in eighteen months had paid it back. Very impressive.
The story doesn’t end there. She never really started out to be an inventor, but her success on the Home Shopping Network started her on that path. Shortly thereafter, she transitioned to QVC, a larger network, and in 2000, after she created an arsenal of new products, she landed her own show on QVC called Clever & Unique Creations.
Greiner has a business sense that perhaps allows her to do things others might not. Her success rate in new product development is over 90 percent. She has a penchant for instantly being able to recognize whether a product will make it or not. In addition to her creativity, she has become an expert on the patent process, and often is a guest speaker for the United States Patent & Trademark Office. She is hands-on in all facets of taking a product from concept to creation and to market within months.
Looking at her personal side for a moment. There is good news for those of us who are not morning people. Yes, you can still be successful. No need to wake at 4:00 am like Tim Cook and others to get a jump on the day. Late night is the new morning. Greiner works the treadmill at midnight and never gets to sleep before one or two am. She finds the late night peaceful and quiet, allowing her to do some of her best thinking.
Perhaps the best known and most successful of her investments was in a sponge called Scrub Daddy. According to Scrub Daddy president and CEO Aaron Krause, they have sold more than 17 million units on QVC alone. This cemented her rising star status on Shark Tank and QVC. Success came to Greiner, some at the onset, but mostly after 20 years of hard work. You can read about it all and profit from it too, in her bestselling book Invent It. Sell It. Bank It!