It’s rare to see a Shark make an offer to buy a company but HyConn is a part of this exclusive club. HyConn is a hose connector that can help firefighters save time connecting to a hydrant. Founder Jeff Stroope agreed to sell the company to Mark Cuban but the deal never closed. HyConn isn’t operational anymore and is now worth $0.
Jeff Stroope’s Background
Jeff Stroope is from Austin, Arkansas. After completing his secondary education at Lake Hamilton High School, he got an associate’s degree in computer drafting and design at Southern Technical College.
He works as a firefighter captain, but has also tried his hand at various jobs. In 2001, Jeff worked as a commercial diver for PBS&J International Inc, a civil engineering firm.
Four years later, he served as the Director of Engineering at the IT service provider Kellogg Brown and Root. In 2006, he became a supervisor at Remington Arms Company, a sporting goods manufacturer.
While working as a firefighter, Stroope one day had a realization as he was tackling a house fire in Texas. In this line of work, every second counts, but he noticed that connecting the hose to a fire hydrant took too long.
To fix this problem, he designed the HyConn hose adapter fit for various types of fire hydrants. The Arkansas resident spent over 11 years making the final product and launched it in 1999.
Traditional methods took around 30 seconds to properly connect with a hydrant, whereas his invention took three seconds or less. Jeff marketed it to 11 fire departments, and four of them made hard purchase orders.
Appearance on Shark Tank
Jeff Stroope believed the product had a million-dollar market waiting for it, but needed the money to boost distribution. In 2011, the Texas native appeared on season two of Shark Tank, seeking $500,000 in return for 40%.
The Sharks were impressed with the demo and its benefits were clear. However, the atmosphere changed when the entrepreneur started talking about the business side of things. Stroope then pulled out a garden hose adapter, which reignited a flame in the tank.
This led Mark Cuban to quickly offer $1.25 million, a three-year job contract, and a 7.5% royalty for 100% of the company. Kevin O’Leary tried to intervene with a counteroffer, but Jeff went with Mark.
After Shark Tank
After Shark Tank, the deal with Mark Cuban never closed. Cuban reportedly wanted to change the terms of his original offer which Stroope didn’t like. According to the fireman, Cuban wanted to monetize through a licensing deal with another firm. This would make the founder redundant at his own company and parted ways with the billionaire.
When the deal fell apart 101 Ventures stepped in and invested along with an economic development agency called Innovate Arkansas. However, it isn’t clear how these deals went. HyConn’s online presence started going quiet in 2019 and its e-commerce website has been shut down.
Sadly it appears they’ve gone out of business as selling to the government is tough due to budget constraints. According to his Linkedin profile, Jeff now works as a Tool & Die Shop Manager at D&M Holding Company.