When things get a little too stressful, simply rubbing on a textured surface can calm you down. Michael Malkin invented Calm Strips, a tactile calming tool you can carry anywhere. After pitching it on Shark Tank, the founders got a deal with Robert Herjavec. As of 2023, Calm Strips is worth $3 million.
About the Founders
Michael Malkin is from Newport News, Virginia, and has a bachelor’s degree in English from Old Dominion University. After college, he became an English teacher at Newport News Public Schools and a store manager at Dell.
He also managed an Apple retail store, where he met Luce Fuller. Luce also has experience managing stores such as Starbucks and COACH. She joined Apple as a specialist in 2013. Luce left the tech giant to take care of her five kids and run an Etsy store.
Founding the Company
While still at Apple, Michael’s anxiety was often triggered by the busy environment. His way of coping with this is wrapping a carpenter’s tape around his finger and rubbing on it. It helped him calm down every time.
Science explains that this is because tactile touch can help people relax and stay focused. With this in mind, Malkin created discreet textured strips that can stick to almost any surface. Calm Strips was launched in 2020 and he hired Luce Fuller to be the administrative director.
They sold the products in packs of five, and customers could choose between the soft sand and river rock textures. Just after a year in business, the company had already done $2.5 million in sales.
Shark Tank Appearance
Luce and Michael appeared on season 13 of the show, seeking $250,000 for a 10% equity stake. They made a strong start to the pitch and introduced their product with a short animation.
They revealed they have a low return rate and healthy margins. The Sharks were surprised by their lifetime sales. The business is making a boatload of cash! Despite strong sales, Calm Strips’ sales are seasonal as people are less stressed out in the Summer.
Robert was the first to make an offer but wanted 35% for $250,000, way too greedy! Of course, Kevin offered a royalty but wanted it in perpetuity. In the end, they went with Robert’s proposal of $250,000 for a $2.5 per unit royalty until he breaks even. Then, $1.5 per until he gets $750,000. A terrible deal, they agreed to borrow $250,000 and pay back $750,000.
After Shark Tank
After Shark Tank, Calm Strips got a huge surge in orders once the episode aired. It appears the deal with Robert hasn’t closed yet as Calm Strips isn’t listed on his website under Shark Tank investments. Potentially the royalty aspect of the deal was too expensive.
Calm Strips have over 150,000 satisfied customers. The product is particularly popular in schools and used by teachers and students in over 5,000 schools. You can purchase their products on CalmStrips.com, Amazon, Etsy, and some small independent retailers in the U.S. The business continues to expand and now has seven full-time employees.
Several of their package deals have an average rating of 4 stars on Amazon. Some negative reviews highlighted that the strips lacked texture. No recent sales figures have been released but the company is currently worth an estimated $3 million.