Windcatcher created a technology to efficiently inflate mattress pads with air. Founder Ryan Frayne blew the Sharks away when pitched on the show and landed a deal with Lori Greiner. Unfortunately, it didn’t close because of legal issues, and Ryan soon passed away from cancer. Windcatcher shut down, but it was worth $4 million at its peak.
About the Founder
Ryan Frayne was from Brooklyn, New York. He got a computer science degree from the DigiPen Institute of Technology and a degree in marketing from the University of South Florida.
He started his career as a software tester at Amaze Entertainment. After some time, he worked as an associate at Digital Aptitude. In 2009, he spearheaded Oceanic Innovation as president and head of research and development.
At 32 years old, he was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer but continued inventing while he battled the disease. Ryan had some good ideas in his hospital bed, but cancer didn’t let him turn them into reality and passed away in 2018.
Founding the Company
While on a family outing to the beach, Ryan’s brother tried to manually inflate an air bed and continuously failed. This became his lightbulb moment to make the first prototype of the Windcatcher mattress.
The Brooklyn native experimented with air pressure and came across a science principle known as entrainment. He learned to harness it and apply it to valves for various inflatable objects. After making a successful airbag, he proceeded to the mattress.
He introduced the product to the public in 2013 with a Kickstarter campaign that aimed to raise $50,000. Backers loved it, and after a month, Frayne raised triple the amount he was looking for.
Shark Tank Appearance
Ryan Frayne wanted to take his invention to higher heights, and the fruitful crowdfunding campaign gave him a massive confidence boost. In 2015, he featured on season seven of Shark Tank, asking for $200,000 for 8%.
The Sharks were intrigued with Ryan’s demo and they showed a lot of interest in the mechanics of Windcatcher. The business had $165,000 in lifetime sales and sold to retailers at a 60% margin. Straightaway Kevin smelled a licensing deal.
A bidding war broke out among all the Sharks, Chris Sacca and Lori Greiner initially teamed up, but Ryan was more enamored with Lori’s solo offer of $200,000 for 5% and a line of credit. The highlight of the pitch was the hilarious way Frayne turned down Kevin’s royalty offer which has gone viral online!
After Shark Tank
After getting a deal with Lori, the future looked bright for Windcatcher Technology but it had a sad ending. The company had a lengthy legal battle against Cascade Designs, which allegedly used Windcatcher’s technology to create their own line of products. Thankfully, he won the lawsuit and secured the full patent.
The deal with Lori never closed and Ryan spent a fortune on legal bills. In the midst of all of this, the entrepreneur was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. Before passing away, he handed the business over to his wife and best friend.
The two launched an IndieGoGo campaign for the second version of Ryan’s flagship product in 2019. It got an average of 3.6 stars from 30 Amazon users. However, the campaign failed, and it appears Windcatcher is no longer in business. Hopefully, they were able to license out their patented inflation valve so Ryan’s idea could live on!